This Friday, March 16 2012 would be exactly a year after the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) acting under the orders of National Security Adviser, Brigadier-General Nunoo Mensah (rtd), unlawfully abducted, handcuffed, arrested and detained our editor over the paper’s editorial content.
It was yet another nasty scar inflicted on media freedom and a clear attempt to gag a media house for not whistling the favorite tune of the government of the day.
Indeed, the President Mills-led Government, speaking through Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, justified the arrest and unlawful detention claiming it was necessary because DAYBREAK was fond of publishing stories concerning the Ghana Armed Forces.
It has been a year on and the reasons for which our freedoms were trampled upon have still not been explained to us. Neither has an apology been rendered.
Even after civil society and right thinking Ghanaians compelled Nunoo Mensah and his BNI puppets to send their petty grumblings to the National Media Commission and DAY BREAK appropriately responded to their shallow petition, it has been a year on and not a single journalist from DAY BREAK has been invited to the Commission over the matter.
It has been a year on and Nunoo Mensah and his BNI puppets are yet to get it straight that under a democracy, the security services use more brains than mussels when handling the media.
They still go about their duty with brutality and a wanton disregard for press freedoms whiles Nunoo Mensah stands akimbo and observes with a gleeful glee on his face; perhaps even manipulating the orchestra behind the scenes to the pleasure of his paymasters.
Between the 15th of last year when our Editor was unlawfully detained and now, the BNI has perpetuated more illegalities against press freedoms in Ghana with the most recent one being the abduction, fondling of genitals and subsequent detention of a hapless female photo-journalist, Gifty Lawson, who was lawfully doing her duties.
A year on after our negative experience, we continue to observe that some key persons within government tend to have orgasms when the freedoms and rights of journalists are abused.
Such ‘criminally-minded’ persons would often limp from one radio station to another to justify the abuse. They would not even mind going on record to say that all persons who do not agree with them have ‘rotten teeth’. Some of such government appointees own newspapers in which they write vitriolic columns against their colleague journalists in other media houses.
After our editor’s release from the BNI dungeons, we put on record that we would not allow ourselves to be gagged by such intimidatory tactics and we still stand by that pledge.
It has been a year on and we have refused to be gagged. Though we have gone through trying times and threats we have remained steadfast because we believe that Nunoo Mensah and his BNI puppets cannot gag us from free speech and our constitutionally mandated media rights as long as we do so within the laws of Ghana.