The Alliance for Women in Media Africa (AWMA) has condemned the assault on the female Tema Regional Correspondent of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, Della Russel Ocloo.
Della was assaulted by some agitated members of the Glorious Way Church when she covered protests against the church's pastor.
AWMA believes the attack is “another example of rampant violations against the lawful conduct of media practitioners.”
The group is thus calling on the Inspector General of Police to institute a full-scale investigation into the incident.
“AWMA calls on the IGP to initiate this investigation and call his officers to account. AWMA calls on the nation's media houses to secure their employees with appropriate measures to enable them to carry out their work as media practitioners without fear of attack.”
“Journalism is a profession. The freedom of the media is protected and guaranteed under chapter 12 of Ghana's Constitution. That freedom, guaranteed by law, is increasingly threatened by this violation by citizens and by those whose duty it is to uphold the law and protect citizens,” portions of a statement from AWMA stated.
The church's pastor, Prophet Badu Kobi, made a controversial comment about Asante, Fante and Ewe women within the context of marriage.
There was a protest over the comment.
Ms Ocloo, the Tema reporter of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, went to the church on Sunday, August 4, 2019 as a follow up to a protest march in a bid to find out the church leader's reaction to the women's peaceful demonstration against his controversial comment about Asante, Fante and Ewe women and how they behave in marriages.
According to the Daily Graphic, Ms Ocloo decided to sit through the church service and at a point found that some members, as a sign of reverence, were not only bowing down to the prophet, but touching his shoes for blessings, and thus decided to record.
While at the church, Ms Ocloo decided to stay and see if the Prophet will react to the issues and the demonstration.
While there, the Prophet reacted and made references to tribes.
“After preaching, Prophet Kobi walked through the aisle and put his hands on people,” the newspaper added.
In the process, majority of the people knelt and held his shoes while he blessed them.
So, Ms Ocloo decided to record it because she found that fascinating.
She was spotted by one of the men, whose name she could get as Amofa, apparently part of the security detail of the church leader.
He walked her out of the auditorium and when they got outside, asked her to delete the video but just when she was about to do so, their interactions attracted other members of the church and about 15 men reportedly surrounded her.
She said she was, however, saved by a man who said he was a national security operative who approached her and asked for her identity card (ID). Having verified her identity, the man also asked her to delete the video.
However, before she could do that, Amofa who had earlier left the scene, returned with two policemen he had brought to effect her arrest.
According to the Daily Graphic, Ms Ocloo was heckled.
Below is the statement from AWMA
*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
AWMA CONDEMNS CHURCH MEMBERS’ ATTACK ON GRAPHIC REPORTER, DENOUNCES POLICE ACTIONS, DEMANDS FULL INVESTIGATION
The Alliance for Women in Media Africa (AWMA) condemns the alleged assault against the Tema Regional correspondent of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, Della Russell Ocloo. Ms. Russell is a member of AWMA. This body of nearly three hundred women in media across the 16 regions of Ghana also condemns the actions of the police. AWMA is calling for investigation, accountability and consequences from these alleged actions.
On Sunday 4th August 2019, Della Russell was allegedly attacked by some agitated members of the Glorious Wave Church. Ms. Russell had gone to report on a protest by the '1000 Women's March' against the recent ethnocentric comments by the church's lead pastor, Prophet Badu Kobi.
Ms. Russell was allegedly manhandled by church members, they demanded she delete footage she had taken of the church's activities, and one member threatened Ms. Russell with a club with nails attached to it. The police were called.
The police allegedly:-
– Forcibly pinned Ms. Russell down in the police car
– Seized her phones when she demanded to know if she was under arrest
– Denied her right to call her lawyer
– The Station Officer demanded Ms. Russell be detained and taken to court the next morning
The Police released Ms. Russell without charges, explanation, apology or further action.
AWMA denounces this reprehensible conduct. It typifies the increasingly dangerous environment within which journalists, especially women, practice their profession.
This is another example of rampant violations against the lawful conduct of media practitioners.
The Alliance for Women in Media Africa (AWMA) responds to these acts as follows:-
• AWMA condemns this act of brutality against Della Russell Ocloo by the church members
• AWMA condemns the actions by the police.
• AWMA demands a full and thorough investigation into the police's response
• AWMA calls on the IGP to initiate this investigation and call his officers to account
• AWMA calls on the nation's media houses to secure their employees with appropriate measures to enable them to carry out their work as media practitioners without fear of attack.
The Media, Journalism is a profession. The freedom of the media is protected and guaranteed under chapter 12 of Ghana's Constitution.
That freedom, guaranteed by law, is increasingly threatened by this violation by citizens and by those whose duty it is to uphold the law and protect citizens.
AWMA issues this statement as a call to action to investigate the Church members behaviour and that of the police.
Shamima Muslim Al-Hassan
ALLIANCE for WOMEN in MEDIA AFRICA (AWMA)*
*AWMA is a body of two hundred and eighty women in Ghana working in the Media and Communications.
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