The National Security Coordinator, Col (rtd) Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, has stated that no journalist was molested by BNI officials at the premises of an Accra High Court during the hearing of the case involving DSP Gifty Mawuenyega Tehoda, the police officer at the centre of the controversial cocaine-turned-baking-soda saga.
A female photojournalist with the Daily Guide newspaper, Gifty Lawson, was reportedly assaulted and stripped by agents of the BNI after she attempted to take a photograph of DSP Tehoda.
But Mr. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey says the information is false. Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Friday, Col. (rtd) Gbevlo-Lartey said information he is privy to indicates that, the BNI officials were being prevented from doing their job at the court and that "a person accompanying a journalist slapped one of the security personnel."
“We can’t accept that. For so long as I remain in this position, I am not going to accept that kind of situation,” he snapped.
He explained that: “someone who was accompanying a journalist had slapped a security official and we are handling that. We will take those persons to court. If the court thinks that that should be what should be done in Ghana, that is up to the court.”
“The BNI is a creature of the law and they will go ahead and do their job as prescribed by law and we are not going to take any indiscipline from any member of the public. It doesn’t matter who he is in preventing the BNI from doing their job,” he warned.
He blamed host of the Super Morning Show, Bernard Nassara Saibu, of creating the impression that a journalist was molested. To him, people should be more interested in what happened at the court, adding “don’t let us start judging our own cases in our own courts to start with and give the public impression that someone needs to be hanged.”
“Let’s have a consensus as people on the fact that the law is supreme and that whoever goes against the law should be punished... There has been no molestation of anybody so far as I know,” he stressed.
He stated that the individual who assaulted the BNI operative will be prosecuted according to the law.
A day of shame for democracy
But the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has described the action of the BNI operatives as shameful.
In an interview on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, the Vice president of the GJA, Affail Monney said the body is working with its lawyers to ensure that that justice is done.
“What happened yesterday (Thursday) was a day of shame for journalism, a day of shame for press freedom, a day of shame for democracy and a day of shame for free expression and we shall not rest… It should ignite the highest sense of outrage, the highest sense of revulsion and the highest sense of action to ensure that justice is done in this case.”
He is also calling on all civil society groups to pick the matter up because “when the journalist is attacked, the freedom of this nation is attacked, free press is attacked, democracy is attacked and the very soul of this nation is attacked.”
He said the inactions of the past reinforces the need for the GJA to take this episode seriously.
Mr. Monney explained that all over the world, there are no laws that prevent journalists from taking pictures outside the court. He wants the perpetrators to be be punished accordingly.