Malik Suleman, one of the Ghanaian Times reporters assaulted by some police officers on Thursday is considering pursuing the officer at the centre of the case in court.
“What happened yesterday was despicable and unthinkable,” he said on the Citi Breakfast Show.
Recalling the sequence of events, he narrated that he was in a car with fellow reporters on their way to some assignments around 8:45 am when a purported infraction by a policeman at a traffic light culminated in the officer assaulting the court reporter.
When the reporters stopped at a traffic light around Accra City Hotel, the police officer on an unregistered motorbike, in the process of running a red light, hit the side mirror of their car.
They caught up with the officer around Kinbu in Accra Central and Malik said he got out of the car and tried to capture the officer on video.
It was at this moment when Malik said he was hit in the face and left bloodied by the police officer.
“He was angry that I was videotaping. That was my offence.”
It was when the police officer was trying to wrestle the reporter’s phone away from him that three other reporters joined in.
One of his colleague reporters, Raissa Sambou, managed to secure Malik’s phone but the police soon turned their attention to her when they had handcuffed Malik and put him in a car.
“One of them elbowed her… when he did that, she collapsed,” he recalled.
Malik said the effects of the brutality were not limited to just his body.
“I am psychologically and emotionally traumatized. They were insulting me as if I have committed an egregious offence… even if I killed someone, the punishment they meted out to me was unlawful. They had no right under the law to do the kind of things they did to me yesterday.”
He made it clear that he did not trust the police and declined to give a statement on the incident without the presence of his lawyer at the Ministries police station.
Malik further claimed that the police tried to skew the story in favour of the officer.
According to him, they were going to charge him for assault and even tried to get an onlooker to lie on a police statement.
“At the time the incident occurred, there was an onlooker who videoed the beating so they arrested him too and said they would only release his phone if he agreed to testify against me.”
Though the police say they will investigate the case, Malik said: “I will talk to my lawyer and if the need be, we will initiate a civil action against the officer.”
Journalists not safe
Malik also says the police officer has also not shown any remorse following the incident and worried about the safety of journalists in Ghana.
“Every journalist in this country is not safe because we have allowed the policemen to get away with murder and they do that with impunity and anytime we do this, we talk about it and that ends it.”
“At the least provocation, they forget about themselves. The least provocation, the policeman will disgrace you, will beat you, he will frame you, he will concoct stories, he will fabricate lies and it is his word against your word.”
Journalists have been the subject of abuse from various security personnel over the last few months.
Just this month, police in the Eastern Region had to rescue two journalists who were held hostage by some men believed to be workers of a mining company in the Atiwa West District.
About a year ago, Joy News reporter Latif Iddris was assaulted at the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service when he was covering the interrogation of then-Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Koku Anyidoho, who was being held on treason charges.
The Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) has condemned an alleged assault on the reporters and called for sanctions.
GJA in a statement called for a swift investigation into the matter which it described as “barbaric.”