The Multimedia Group Limited, operators of Joy FM and other broadcasting brands, and one of its journalists, Mr Latiff Iddrisu, have sued the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr David Asante Apeatu, and the Attorney-General (A-G) over the alleged police brutality meted out to the journalist at the headquarters of the Ghana Police Service on March 27, 2018.
In a suit filed at the Accra High Court by their counsel, Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini, the media organisation and Mr Iddrisu are seeking GH¢10 million in compensatory damages, GH¢10,209 in special damages, an order for exemplary, aggravated and general damages, as well as costs, including legal fees.
Among other reliefs, the plaintiffs are also seeking declarations that officers of the Ghana Police Service committed torts and battery and false imprisonment against Mr Iddrisu.
They also want a declaration that the defendants are “liable for the acts of officers of the Ghana Police Service”.
On March 27, 2018, Mr Iddrisu allegedly suffered a fractured skull after the police had brutally assaulted him in front of the CID headquarters in Accra while reporting on a protest by some members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) against the detention of the then Deputy General Secretary of the party, Mr Koku Anyidoho.
Some policemen are alleged to have subjected Iddrisu to severe beatings.
Describing the nature of the assault, the plaintiffs, in their statement of claim, averred that the Multimedia Group Limited assigned Mr Iddrisu to cover the protest by supporters of the NDC against Mr Anyidoho’s arrest.
It explained that in an attempt to get accurate information for his reportage, Mr Iddrisu enquired from the policemen the specific name of one of the crowd control vehicles, but instead of answering him, the policeman held Mr Iddrisu by the shirt, pulled him and slapped him in the face.
Mr Iddrisu, the statement of claim added, fell and the policeman pushed him into the crowd and other policemen pounced on him.
“First plaintiff (Mr Iddrisu) was pushed into the main compound and subjected to further beatings, including being hit in the ribs with a stick. Ist plaintiff (Mr Iddrisu) was violently pounded in the head with the butt of a gun multiple times by another officer until he began to vomit blood,” it said.
It further explained that Mr Iddrisu was beaten by the police until he was rescued by a policewoman.
According to the statement of claim, Mr Iddrisu was later taken for treatment at the Lighthouse Hospital at North Kaneshie in Accra, where he was admitted due to signs of difficulty in walking, blurred vision and a swollen face.
Assault on journalists
The suit comes against the backdrop of numerous assaults on journalists by security personnel.
However, not a single security person has been prosecuted for the attacks on 25 journalists since 2016.
Checks by Graphic Online have revealed a tall list of victims, including reporters, photojournalists, station managers and editors, who have been brutally assaulted by soldiers and policemen.
Some of the attacks have left journalists with serious medical conditions. For instance, the Daily Graphic’s Victor Kwawukume has lost his sense of smell as a result of being beaten by the Ho Police while covering a swoop on criminals.