Reports that officials of Citi FM and Citi TV have met with the fact-finding committee set up by the National Security Ministry to investigate claims of assault and violation of rights against two of its journalists is refreshing.
The Ministry had earlier announced on May 13 that it had initiated investigations into the matter.
Citi FM had also last Monday officially petitioned the National Media Commission to investigate the May 11 raid on the station and the abuse of its journalists.
As we all know, Caleb Kudah was arrested, together with Zoe Abu-Baidoo, for taking pictures of some abandoned vehicles parked at the National Security Ministry. After his release, his report of how he was brutalised and tortured by operatives of the Ministry, while in their custody, sparked public outrage, with calls for reforms at the state security institution.
The meeting, we are further told, was part of the internal investigations announced by the Ministry of National Security into the incident.
That we have a national security which is proving to be living in the 70s cannot be denied. We have seen how eccentric its operatives have been for over a decade now. This is a fact ewe cannot deny, regardless of where we stand as politicians or as professionals or opinion leaders within the media.
What we also cannot, however, deny is the incidence of some reporters overstepping their professional boundaries and acting kinky; or playing tricks for all sorts of reasons.
In all of these, we must, as a nation, sit up and agree that what we have cannot be the best –whether it is the divided media, with opposing political support in which objectivity and operational codes are thrown to the wind; or the extreme, reactionary temperament that we find in our national security apparatus.
As we take sides in the matter and focus on the reaction of the state security or blame the journalist, depending on our political rather than our sense of fairness, we miss the point.
In our opinion, the issues become less murky and more tasking if we focus on how each party was professional and responsible; tactful and ingenious. That is where we can responsibly warn both the cat and the dried fish and re-determine the boundaries within which the two should operate. So that it does not appear that we are circumventing the work of the internal Committee, we urge that both parties appearing before themselves address the issues professionally.
So, we would for instance investigate if the journalist raised official queries or simply invaded the area, using irregular methods. And we may certify whether the law permits that – both from the point of view of the journalist and the operatives/institution.
Additionally, we must investigate if really taking those photos has a way of unnecessarily harming the institution or Ghana, for that matter. In addition, we must establish if clearly, by security implications, there was a mercenary or political motive to harm government.
But these are professional matters that we believe the representatives of the two institutions can better address. In all of that we believe trust and Ghana are key, in resolving this nasty incident.
Already, we have the Ayawaso West Wuogon incident assailing us, with recommendations in the report yet to be addressed.
Additionally, we have government reeling under a whole barrage of propaganda over allegations of corruption, even though it is the opposition NDC which has more of its appointees writhing in prison and the courts over corruption.
That is why we expect the internal meeting to strive to take the poison out of the ultimate Committee of Inquiry sittings that may come on subsequently. Time to put Ghana first in our practice as journalists; and time for our national security apparatus and operatives, too, to put Ghana first in both overt and covert operations that they find themselves confronted with.