The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the protection of journalists around the world is calling on the Ghana government to investigate the abduction and beating of a journalist in the residence of the leader of the All Peoples Congress (APC) Hassan Ayariga in Bawku.
The journalist, Jerry Azanduna, who works for the Ghana News Agency (GNA) was reportedly lured by some men who offered to drive him to a press conference where he was invited to, but instead, drove him to the residence of Ayariga, took his phone, flash drive and wallet off him and subjected him to beatings.
Ayariga however has denied his involvement in the assault on the journalist in a telephone conversation with the CPJ, but didn’t rule out the possibility of some soldiers, who were with him at the time, beating Azanduna after they took him away.
Ayariga told the CPJ that, he did not ask the group of men who brought Azanduna to his house to “teach him a lesson” despite the victim being firmly insistent that Ayariga did instruct his boys to “teach him a lesson”
Meanwhile Ayariga didn’t deny getting angry on seeing Azanduna at his Bawku residence and said that as at the time he saw Azanduna, he was not assaulted.
“When I saw [Azanduna] in my house, I was very angry because I didn’t invite him to my house…At the time I saw him nobody beat him…He was sitting on the floor…He should not pretend [he was beaten],” he told the CPJ.
He went further to tell the CPJ that, he questioned Azanduna at the house about his stories, at least one of which he said was inaccurate and should be retracted, and said he thought the party members and Azanduna may have fought before arriving at his home.
A cursory look at Ayariga’s statements reveals clear contradictions. Ayariga having stated categorically that “At the time I saw him nobody beat him…He was sitting on the floor…He should not pretend [he was beaten]”, came back to admitted later in his conversation with the CPJ that “the party members and Azanduna may have fought before arriving at his home.”
Narrating the incident to the CPJ, Azanduna said that on August 27, a group of men tricked him into getting in a car by saying they would drive him to a press conference he had been told to attend. The men instead drove him to the house of Ayariga, who questioned him about a recent report by the GNA.
Azanduna said when he questioned why the vehicle was going in a different direction to where the men said they were heading, he was told to “shut up.” When Azanduna took out his phone to call for help, one of the men slapped him and confiscated his phone.
Azanduna told CPJ Ayariga chastised him for his reporting, and said, “The story you did about me, do you know what it has cost me?” and told the men to “teach him a lesson.”
CPJ in its report said Azanduna said the group beat him at the house until he fell unconscious. “I sustained injuries on my left arm and [my] right shoulder was dislocated. My ribs were hurt. My neck and my eyes were all sore,” he said.
According to the CPJ, he arrived at the hospital around 6pm and was discharged around 11pm on the day of the attack
The CPJ after concluding its independent investigations has issued a statement saying; “Ghanaian authorities should thoroughly investigate and bring to justice all those responsible for an attack on Jerry Azanduna, a reporter with the government-funded Ghana News Agency (GNA), and ensure his belongings are returned.”
By Bismark Elorm Addo