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06.04.2009 Feature Article

When I was “arrested”

When I was “arrested”
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First, let me say it didn't happen. I was never arrested. It was all an April Fools' Day prank, instigated and executed by Israel Laryea with my full support. He came to me that morning in a every excitable state asking for ideas for an April Fools' Day prank. My first suggestion was for him to go and announce that I had been arrested with cocaine. “Not a bad idea,” he said to start preparing for his 6am newscast.

As Israel turned to go and write the 'script' about my arrest, I became a bit apprehensive. With all the cocaine stories making the rounds, I felt that it is not advisable for me to be associated with crack in anyway. So I went to Israel to express my apprehensions. “Look at how Rojo Mettle-Nunoo is struggling to clear his name,” I said. “Please, don't go mention my name and cocaine in the same breath.”

He laughed and said “no”.
“Here is an idea,” I said. “How about announcing that I had died?”
Israel rejected that one too. He said death is too serious.
Then I started thinking that perhaps, I should get myself out of the story. My mind was racing to come up with a better 'story' which doesn't involve me dead or arrested. By now, it was almost time for Israel to go and present the newscast. So he packed his scripts and took his laptop along to the studio.

With just about a minute to 6 O'clock I got an idea: we'd claim that Muamar Qathafi had promised to offer Kufuor some armour-plated BMWs to make up for what the government took from him. So I went to the studio to tell Israel. When I got there, he was writing a script which said I had been arrested.

“For what?” I asked.
“The reasons are not clear,” he said. That sounded ok to me so I told him to go ahead.

What I didn't know was that he had planned with Seth Kwame Boateng to go the extra mile to make the story sound a little more believable. I was quite surprised when after reading the script he had written Israel called up Seth, who was supposedly at the CID Headquarters to give a live update.

For maximum effect, Israel decided to play the signature tune that precedes breaking news broadcasts on Joy FM. And it worked. Seth filed his report claiming he had seen someone like me in one of the cells.

Immediately the 'news' went out, the phone lines started buzzing – mine as well as the ones in the Joy Newsroom. That was when it occurred to me that someone with a very fragile heart would start panicking.

My mum listens to Adom FM more than she listens to Joy. So I was hoping that she wasn't listening. But just to be on the safe side, I decided to give her a call. But she moved faster than I did and called me first. When I answered, she was panting. She told me she was on her way to the Police Headquarters. A friend had called to tell her about my “arrest”. When I told her it was a prank, I could sense her relief as she broke into uncontrollable laughter.
“Tell Israel,” she said. “I will deal with him for making my heart thump like this.”

Just about the time, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah announced that my “arrest” was just a hoax. He ended the prank in good time. Since then I've had a number of people call or text to say that they were getting ready to go to the Police Headquarters to demand my immediate and unconditional release. Others have told me of how they kicked themselves for falling for the prank.

“You guys got me on that,” my senior colleague at the Ghana News Agency, Kosi Kpodo said in a text. “I was driving straight to come get you out.”

I received a lot of messages like these and each of them touched my heart. It is gratifying to know that I have so many friends who will rise to my defence if they felt that I had suffered a travesty of justice.

It's also good to know that there are so many people out there who had a very good laugh out of this prank. On the other hand, however, there are many others who are still not so amused. I've been told that my “arrest” caused a lot of panic in very high places and when it turned out to be a hoax some people are claiming that this was deliberately staged to embarrass them. To these people, I would like to say that no malice was intended.

I concede that what happened this morning was a very expensive joke. But it was all in good fun. I am glad for those who were able to laugh it off. However, I am quite sorry for any distress it might have caused – especially to my mum and all those in 'high places'. Will I do it again? Maybe not!


Credit: Ato Kwamena Dadzie, atokd.com

Ato Kwamina Dadzie
Ato Kwamina Dadzie, © 2009

The author has 146 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: AtoKwaminaDadzie

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