Private legal practitioner Bobby Banson has proposed the initiation of a national campaign to have the National Security Coordinating Council change its ways, in the wake of operations deemed abusive and unprofessional in the eyes of the public.
The suggestion for a #DropThatNationalSecurity campaign follows a recent raid of the East Legon offices of online news portal ModernGhana by some National Security operatives to arrest journalists alleged to have been engaged in cybercrimes.
One of the arrested journalists, Emmanuel Abugri Ajafor, who was detained from Thursday evening to Saturday morning, later alleged he was manhandled and tortured while in the custody of the National Security.
Civil society groups including the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the OneGhana Movement and others, have all waded into the issue and condemned the way the National Security effected the arrest and how the suspects were handled.
The National Security has since denied the allegations of torture, but has not as yet denied those about unlawful arrest and the suppression of the human rights of the journalists.
Speaking on TV3’s Saturday morning show, The Key Points, Mr. Banson, former president John Mahama’s spokesperson, Joyce Bawa Mogtari, and Political Science Lecturer Dr.Alidu Seidu raised concerns about the operations of the National Security, and not only in the ModernGhana case, but also in other instances like the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence.
When there appeared to be some consensus that the National Security is overstepping its bounds, Mr. Banson threw in a light suggestion that “maybe, there should be a ‘#DropThatNationalSecurity’ campaign”, ostensibly alluding to an ongoing #DropThatChamber campaign aimed at stopping parliament from constructing a new Chamber.
Press attacks too regular
Dr Seidu, the lecturer at the University of Ghana, observed the indicators for measuring press freedom do show a positive signal in Ghana, noting that attacks on the press in recent times have “become too frequent, too regular”.
He also noted that there has to be a concerted effort to compel the National Security to act within the remit of the law.
“It is about time we brought them back to their normal seize and let them know they are not above the law,” he said.
Mrs Mogtari shared similar sentiments, cataloguing some occurrences in the recent past where she said there appears to be some suppression under the Akufo-Addo government.
Seek legal redress
However, the Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Osei Bonsu Amoah, who was also on the programme, maintained that if anyone including the ModerGhana journalists feel their rights have been curtailed, they can go to court and seek legal redress.
The minister does not agree with the seeming attempt to link the ModernGhana incident to the government and the president, Nana Akufo-Addo.
He particularly is not enthused that the murder of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussei-Suale and the life-threatening claims of Manasseh Azure are all brought into the discussion.
By P.D Wedam| 3news.com|Ghana