Ghana: Political activist detained over allegations against first lady

A political activist and critic of the President’s administration has been detained in Ghana. Ernest Owusu Bempah was arrested on 14 March on charges of “publishing false information with the intent to cause fear and alarm”. On a local radio station Bempah alleged that President Atta Mills’ wife had received 5m Ghana Cedis (approximately GBP£1,854,449 ) as a gift from a businessman who is facing trial for defrauding the state of millions. The government and the first lady have denied the accusations, and the President’s lawyers plan to take legal action against the journalist.

Ghana: Journalists assaulted by angered pastors

Three pastors allegedly assaulted three journalists and a panellist in Accra, Ghana on 8 August. The three pastors were angered by comments made during a broadcast of Nya Asem Hwe, a local current affairs programme on radio station Hot FM. Reverend Bishop Daniel Obinim, Kofi Akweitey, and Kingsley Baah were angered by their exclusion from the broadcast, which involved a discussion about a sex scandal involving Obinim and the wife of another pastor. According to reports, the pastors “angrily stormed” the station’s studios and assaulted the hosts of the programme, along with other staff members. The men were released on bail on 9 August.

Ghana: Policemen assault radio staff members

Angry police officers stormed into two radio station offices and attacked two staff members in Ghana’s second largest city on 16 September. Reports suggest the officers intended to attack a panelist, Francis Dodovi, who is a sympathiser of the ruling National Democratic Congress. The policemen claim Dodovi had been discrediting a demonstration staged by these police officers on discrimination charges on 15 September.

Ghana: Editor claims he was tortured

The editor of the Banjul-based The Independent newspaper, Musa Saidykhan, has informed judges that the people who tortured him in a 2006 incident were members of President Yahya Jammeh’s security forces.  On 3 June a community court heard that the editor was arrested by policeman then tortured by presidential security forces, rendering him unconscious for 30 minutes. Siadykhan had recently returned from a human rights forum in South Africa where he gave an interview detailing the killing of 44 Ghanaian nationals in 2005. The Media Foundation for West Africa (MWA) instituted the legal action on behalf of Saidykhan.