The management of Adabraka-based Citi FM has petitioned the National Media Commission (NMC) concerning the ‘Rambo-style’ invasion of the radio station by three pickups-ful of armed police officers of National Security’s SWAT unit a few days ago, during an attempt to arrest female journalist Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo, for allegedly conspiring with colleague Caleb Kudah, also of Citi FM, to secretly film some abandoned state-acquired vehicles parked within the premises of MASLOC while Mr Kudah was within a no-photography enclave of the Ministry of National Security.
In the petition, the management of Citi FM said they want the NMC to use its “mandate under the Constitution that enjoins it to ensure the safety of journalists to investigate or cause to be investigated” the invasion of the media house for Mrs Abu-Baidoo Addo’s arrest as well as claims by Mr Kudah that he was “pushed, slapped and kicked” by the security operatives during his interrogation following his arrest while in the act of filming the vehicles.
“While Mr Kudah was in detention, a plain-clothed police officer went on to illegally go through his seized phone, and upon realising that some of the photos/videos Caleb took had been sent to the phone Mrs Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo, also a broadcast journalist at Citi, proceeded under subterfuge to chat with Zoe using Caleb’s phone to create the impression that he was okay, and by so doing, tried to lure her out of the office to be arrested”, the petition said.
It added: “When this approach failed, they then called Mrs Abu-Baidoo Addo with Mr Kudah’s phone to ask her to report at the National Security Ministry at which point she explained that she would need to confer with management before honouring the invitation by telephone”.
“Mrs Abu-Baidoo Addo subsequently informed Mr Richard Mensah of the call, at which point he indicated to her that he would talk to DSP Azugu while trying to secure Mr Kudah’s release.
“A few minutes after this, about seven or eight fully armed SWAT police officers from the National Security Ministry, led by a plainclothed officer, stormed Citi FM/Citi TV in a Rambo-style in 3 pickup vehicles, accosted Mrs. Abu-Baidoo Addo (who was on a phone call at the car park) confiscated her phone and chased her to the back of Citi FM in a bid to arrest her.
“A chaotic scene ensued amid the cocking of guns and shouts, which was not only unprofessional but intimidating and dangerous to both Mrs Abu-Baidoo Addo and the members of staff who had come out in response to the ensuing commotion”, portions of the petition narrated.
The management said: “The approach adopted by the SWAT team in their bid to arrest Mrs Abu-Baidoo Addo, within the precincts of her own office premises was potentially life-threatening to her and the members of staff present at the scene”.
Read the full petition below:
COMPLAINT TO THE NMC ON THE BRUTALISATION OF CITI FM JOURNALIST CALEB KUDAH AND THE RAID OF CITI FM ON MAY 11, 2021
Management of Citi FM & CITI TV is lodging this formal complaint to the National Media Commission on the conduct of some officers of the National Security Ministry against two journalists – Mr. Caleb Kudah and Mrs. Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo working with Citi FM/Citi TV and the raiding of the offices of Citi FM & Citi TV by policemen from National Security Ministry on the same day.
This complaint is made pursuant to Section 2 (1) (b) of the National Media Commission Act, 1993 (Act 449):
“to take the appropriate measures that ensure the establishment and maintenance of the highest journalistic standards in the mass media, including the investigation, mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media;”(emphasis ours).
On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, the Director of Operations of National Security, Lt. Col. Frank Agyeman, and a team of SWAT policemen working under the direction of DSP Samuel Kojo Azugu unlawfully arrested, detained, brutalised and tortured Mr. Caleb Kudah and subsequently, raided in a Rambo-style the offices of Citi FM/Citi TV by men from the same unit, in a bid to arrest Mrs. Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo. The incident caused alarm, fear and panic amongst the members of staff of the company and endangered the lives of innocent Ghanaians.
B. PARTICULARS OF COMPLAINT
- ARREST, DETENTION AND BRUTALISATION OF CALEB KUDAH
Around 2:30 pm on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, Citi FM/Citi TV reporters Caleb Kudah went to the car park of the Ministry of National Security to take photos of a number of abandoned Chevrolet vehicles imported into the country in 2016 for MASLOC but had yet to be distributed as of 2019.
Mr. Kudah was doing a follow-up on the state of those Chevrolet vehicles to ascertain if the vehicles were still at the location- a matter of vital public interest regarding the use of taxpayer’s money over which the public is entitled to the truth.
After taking photos of the vehicles he made a short video of some other old vehicles parked under a shed adjacent to the location of the Chevrolet vehicles.
On his way out of the premises, he was accosted by an official of the National Security Ministry, who raised an alarm and accused him of filming national security installations to foment trouble.
Mr. Kudah was immediately surrounded by policemen who seized his phone and roughed him up before sending him into a building in which he met the head of the SWAT Unit DSP Azugu.
During questioning, Mr Kudah identified himself to the officials as a journalist from Citi FM/Citi TV who had come to take photos of some abandoned MASLOC vehicles, which was a follow up on a story he had earlier done.
DSP Azugu placed a phone call to Mr. Richard Mensah, Director of Television of Citi TV to confirm if, indeed, Mr. Caleb Kudah was a member of staff of Citi FM/CITI TV to which he affirmed.
This notwithstanding, Mr. Kudah was slapped several times and punched indiscriminately by the officers several times while being questioned by DSP Azugu although he had identified himself as a journalist from Citi FM/Citi TV.
After some minutes of that ordeal, he was brought outside the building to underneath a mango tree, at which point he was approached by a well-dressed man in a light-green suit, whom he later identified by name as Lt Col Frank Agyeman.
Lt Col Agyeman, upon approaching the now roughed-up and petrified Mr. Kudah, gave him a hefty slap and asked him to kneel down. He then kicked him in the groin and left him lying down.
This action by Lt. Col. Agyeman seemed to have invigorated the policemen who continued punching and slapping Mr. Kudah for several minutes.
Mr. Kudah pleaded for mercy and tried to explain why he was there, but his cries fell on deaf ears as the policemen continued to indiscriminately punch and slap him from behind.
In total, Mr. Kudah was manhandled and brutalised for close to 5 hours in detention, both in the office of DSP Azugu, as well as in the main national security building.
When he was sent to the main national security building, he was thrown into a room without windows (with some other suspects) and “worked on” by one of the inmates who threatened him and asked him to remove his shoes and do push-ups amid threats and insults.
He recounts how thirsty he was and asked for water, which he was given, but the handcuffs he was wearing and his tired hands could barely raise the water to his lips.
His horrific ordeal continued until around 7pm when he was released.
Mr. Kudah informed the management of the Citi FM/Citi TV that he was made to write a statement without allowing him the right to counsel as prescribed by law.
- RAMBO-STYLE RAID ON CITI FM/CITI TV
While Mr. Kudah was in detention, a plain-clothed police officer went on to illegally go through his seized phone, and upon realising that some of the photos/videos Caleb took had been sent to the phone Mrs. Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo, also a broadcast journalist at Citi, proceeded under subterfuge to chat with Zoe using Caleb’s phone to create the impression that he was okay, and by so doing, tried to lure her out of the office to be arrested.
When this approach failed, they then called Mrs. Abu-Baidoo Addo with Mr. Kudah’s phone to ask her to report at the National Security Ministry at which point she explained that she would need to confer with management before honoring the invitation by telephone.
Mrs. Abu-Baidoo Addo subsequently informed Mr. Richard Mensah of the call, at which point he indicated to her that he would talk to DSP Azugu while trying to secure Mr. Kudah’s release.
A few minutes after this, about seven or eight fully armed SWAT police officers from the National Security Ministry, led by a plainclothes officer stormed Citi FM/Citi TV in a Rambo-style in 3 pickup vehicles, accosted Mrs. Abu-Baidoo Addo (who was on a phone call at the car park) confiscated her phone and chased her to the back of Citi FM in a bid to arrest her.
A chaotic scene ensued amid the cocking of guns and shouts, which was not only unprofessional but intimidating and dangerous to both Mrs. Abu-Baidoo Addo and the members of staff who had come out in response to the ensuing commotion.
The approach adopted by the SWAT team in their bid to arrest Mrs. Abu-Baidoo Addo, within the precincts of her own office premises was potentially life-threatening to her and the members of staff present at the scene.
It took the management of Citi FM/Citi TV in particular the CEO, Mr. Samuel Attah-Mensah’s intervention to calm the situation. The policemen then agreed, for a team from Citi FM/TV’s Management to accompany Mrs. Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo to the National Security Office.
The team from management had a cordial meeting with DSP Azugu, and left his office with the impression that all that was required was for the photos/videos to be deleted and the two would be released immediately.
The team was however directed to see Lt. Col Agyeman, who upon seeing the delegation, asked for Mrs. Abu-Baidoo Addo to follow him and refused to speak to the team from Citi FM/TV management.
Mrs. Abu-Baidoo Addo was released at about 5:30 pm after almost 45 minutes in detention while Mr. Kudah was released around 7 pm that evening, following the intervention of the Deputy National Security Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kwaku Asomaning who Citi Management reached out to.
Mr. Kudah has been sent to the hospital for medical examination and is currently recuperating from the physical and psychological effects of his ordeal.
Till date, no formal charges have been levelled against the two journalists.
However, the National Security Ministry has indicated that they are investigating the incident.
The statement issued by the Chief Director of the Ministry recounting their version of the events of the day and announcing an internal investigation does not give us an indication that the National Security Ministry will provide an independent and satisfactory investigation in these allegations.
We are hereby petitioning the National Media Commission to use its mandate under the Constitution that enjoins it to ensure the safety of journalists to investigate or cause to be investigated the two incidents described above and recommend appropriate actions therefrom.
We have attached a video containing more details of Caleb and Zoe’s account of events and another containing CCTV footage of the raid on Citi FM