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01.05.2004 General News

Police arrest GBC Journalist for extortion

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Tema, May 1, GNA - The Tema Police have arrested John Kwame Mensah, an untrained Journalist of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), for extorting money from the Management of the Ghana Agro Foods Company Limited (GAFCO).

Mensah, a Technician, who had been allowed to host a radio programme, demanded and got six million cedis from the Management in order to stop a publication of a bribery scandal involving the Tema Regional Police Commander, ASP Agnes Sikanartey at GAFCO.

Briefing newsmen at Tema on Friday, Mrs Sikanartey said on Tuesday April 27, her outfit received information from GAFCO that Mensah had come there to demand the amount from the Management.

It was meant to suppress the publication of a scandal involving GAFCO Management and the Commander in appreciation of brutalities she allegedly ordered the Police to inflict on some of the Company's workers during a labour crisis in November 2003.

She said Mensah had as his weapon a drafted news item with the headline: "Top Police Officer In Bribery Scandal" and threatened the Management that he was going to have it published if they failed to give him the money.

Mrs Sikanartey said, even though, the Management denied the allegation, Mensah insisted on going to the press with it and seeing that the action was a blackmail, the Management took down the serial numbers of the six million cedis in 20,000 cedis denominations and gave it to him and quickly alerted the Police.

As soon as he left the premises of the Company the Police arrested and escorted him to the Tema Regional Police Station. When his briefcase was searched the money and the drafted news item about Mrs Sikanartey were found in it.

The drafted news item said: Mr Evert Liewes, Managing Director of GAFCO approved a package of 160 million cedis and a saloon car for Mrs Sikanartey in appreciation of her having released Policemen to brutalise workers of the Company during an industrial action in 2003.

Mrs Sikanartey said Mensah was put before the Tema Circuit Court "B" and charged with extortion and remanded in custody to reappear on May 4. Though Mensah described himself as a Freelance Journalist in his drafted news item, he told Newsmen that he was a Senior Programme Officer with the Radio Production Department of the GBC and that he hosts a Monday morning show.

He claimed that he went to the GAFCO to interview the Management about the hike in flour price and later informed them that he was bereaved so the Management offered him donation towards the funeral.

"Upon telling them about my bereavement, the Management Staff gave me a brown envelope containing money to but I did not know the exact amount until it was opened at the Police Station," he said.

On the drafted story, he said it was not intended for immediate publication until he finished with his investigations.

In another development, Mrs Sikanartey said she had received hand written warning from armed robbers for the intensification of patrols to clamp down on their activities.

She said the note signed by one Abdulai read: "We just wonna tell you we gonna put ourself together just to face your men next time despite the heavy loss you have caused us by those of yours."

Mrs Sikanartey said the Police were ever ready to combat crime in the Tema Municipality. 1 May 04

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