After greatly embarrassing themselves and coming under huge public criticism, operatives of the National Security on Friday released 13,000 CDs of the much talked-about movie, 'Atta Mortuary Man' which were seized in a 'Rambo' style at Opera Square by the same agents.
The seized CDs were however kept in the custody of the Police Striking Force and the producers were asked to collect them after nearly two weeks in 'police detention' and subsequent meetings between the producers and the National Security.
A shop belonging to the distributor of the movie, George Walker alias Nyankoton, at Opera square in Accra, was raided by the security operatives. The security agents seized the 13,000 copies, together with posters of the newly-produced movie on May 28, after which the Ministry of Information made fruitless efforts to justify the seizure.
A Deputy Minister for Information, Baba Jamal, had a tough time trying to explain the reason behind the seizure of the movie, first saying the movie did not go through the due censorship process and later changing the reason to non-payment of taxes by Tiger Heart Productions which produced the movie.
He told journalists in the Eastern region, as part of his official visit to the Eastern region on Wednesday that 'Atta Mortuary Man' had given him a nightmarish experience, admitting that he really had a 'headache' and tough time explaining the issue to the public.
He blamed the whole 'confusion' surrounding the seizure of the movie on journalists, stressing that they did not do due diligence on which security agency seized the CDs and the reason for the seizure.
“I had sleepless nights, always being called by media men for the government's stand. I really had a tough time, especially on Peace FM when Kwame Sefa-Kayi was trying to put me on the spot on the issue.”
According to Baba Jamal, it was the police which seized the CDs and the reason for doing that was that the company which produced the film had not been paying taxes.
The executive producer of the movie, Philip Gborku, said no conditions were given for the release except that they were given pieces of advice.
'Today, around 3:00pm, the order came that it should be released to us after several questioning. There was no condition attached but we were given a personal advice. They really encouraged us. They are very nice people. People normally think the National Security always intimidates people but it's far from that. They encouraged us and told us to do nice productions. It was a kind advice they gave to us.
'I didn't personally listen to any National Security officials denying that they were not involved in the raid, but as far as we are concerned, everything was handled by the National Security. We went to the Castle annex for the order and came to the Striking Force to collect the CDs,' he said.
Mr. Gborku said the controversy surrounding the movie had given it the hype it deserved and he hoped this would translate into good sales.
'Every misfortune is a blessing. Even though we have gone through a lot of struggles and travelling, this has been very tiresome. At the end of the day, a lot of people have heard of the movie and we are hoping it will sell.'
The reason for the seizure still remains unclear but many have suggested that it was seen as a mockery of the President, Professor John Evans Atta Mills.
Baba Jamal had explained that the movies were seized because the producers did not complete censorship procedures.
According to him, although the movie itself had been censored and approved by the Cinematograph Exhibition Board of Control, its posters and adverts had not yet been scrutinised since the producer did not make them available at the time the movie was under scrutiny.
Mr Jamal said until the adverts and posters had been properly censored, the movie could not be sold. He later said the producers had also evaded taxes.
But his explanations were not accepted by the Ghana Cinematograph Exhibition Board of Control.
It condemned the raid on the offices of the film distributor, Nyankonton Films, and accused the Minister of blatantly disregarding the board to carry out an illegal exercise.
The movie 'Atta Mortuary Man' is a comedy in which the lead actor, Agya Koo, playing the role of 'Atta', is a susu collector who, after fraudulently embezzling an amount he had collected from residents, decided to run away. He went to a different town and found a new job as a mortuary man.
The name 'Atta Mortuary Man' became popular after the NDC's founder and former President Jerry John Rawlings made reference to an 'Atta' friend of his, who works in the mortuary at the 37 Military Hospital, during a speech at the NDC's congress in Tamale in 2010.
Another film producer, Kofi Asamoah had also expressed fears that his new movie entitled 'Oh Uncle Atta', was going to be prevented from being released onto the market because of the title, even though it had no political connotation.
From Thomas Fosu Jnr, Koforidua