Soldiers

ACCRA, October 24, 2023 (GJA) – The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has petitioned the Military High Command over the assault of Nicholas Morkah, a morning show host of Akyemansa FM based in Akim Oda in the Eastern Region by five soldiers.

The GJA also urges the Police to immediately investigate the incident and ensure that the culprits are made to face the full rigors of the law.

In a three-point petition signed by the GJA President, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, and addressed to the Chief of the Defense Staff (CDS) on Monday, October 23, 2023, the GJA called for investigations into the assault case, the requisite sanction(s) to be applied against the soldiers, if found culpable, and compensation for Nicholas Morkah for the bodily harm and material loss he suffered as a result of the assault.

The GJA condemns the assault on the broadcast journalist in no uncertain terms because it was absolutely unwarranted.

The incident

The incident occurred on Thursday, October 19, 2023 at Akim Oda during a joint military-customs operation to impound vehicles brought into the country without proper documentation.

In the course of that operation carried out openly, Nicholas, who was passing through the area on a motorbike, saw a crowd around the Akim Oda Post Office and stopped to find out what was happening.

According to him, just around that time, he saw some soldiers chasing a young man who they assaulted after arresting him.

Moved by his journalistic instincts, Nicholas started videoing the incident with his mobile phone.

However, five heavily-armed soldiers believed to be based at the Achiase Jungle Warfare School, rushed on him and subjected him to physical assault, hitting his body many times with clinched fists.

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According to Nicholas, the soldiers then took him into a vehicle and drove to the barracks, as they continued the assault on him on the way.

At the barracks, and after taking him to their superior, they deleted every document on his two mobile phones, including vital documents he would need for some correspondences.

Subsequently, the soldiers took him to the police station and handed him over to the police.

Military-media relations

The GJA, after getting informed about the incident on Saturday, October 21, 2023, launched an investigation into the incident based on which it petitioned the Military High Command.

The petition noted that relations between the military and the media had not been cordial over the years in view of similar cases of assault on media practitioners by the military.

It, however, noted recent efforts by the Military High Command, under the leadership of the current CDS, Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, to repair the damaged relations of the past.

It recalled a recent meeting between the Military High Command and the leadership of the GJA at Burma Camp during which the two institutions pledged their commitment to work together in harmony.

While commending the CDS for that positive initiative, the GJA expressed the hope that he would redeem the pledge made at the said meeting to rebuild military-media relations by bringing the errant soldiers in the Akim Oda case to book.

In a prompt response to the GJA petition, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) expressed sympathy to Nicholas Morkah and the GJA “for this unfortunate incident”.

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“We can assure you of our readiness to thoroughly and speedily investigate the alleged assault and anyone found culpable will be sanctioned as appropriate.

“Once again, accept our assurance of ensuring a better and improved relations between the media and the military in the interest of our dear country,” the GAF said in a letter dated October 24, 2023, and signed by Air Vice Marshall MK Appiah-Agyekum, Deputy Chief of Staff (Admin).

[SGD]

Kofi Yeboah

(General Secretary)

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