The National Security Council Secretariat has denied claims it tortured ModernGhana journalists picked up for allegedly engaging in cyber crimes.
The Secretariat in a press release issued Tuesday morning said it takes a very serious view of the torture allegations it says are only a deliberate attempt by the suspect, Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri, to discredit the investigations and the case against him.
“Torture and manhandling of suspects are not part and parcel of the culture and architecture of the secretariat under the administration of President Akufo-Addo. We wish to categorically state that the suspect, during questioning, was never manhandled, neither was he subjected to any form of forced physical contact,” the statement said.
Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri, the Editor of the online news portal, Modernghana.com, claims he was subjected to electric shock and other forms of torture by national security operatives after his arrest last Thursday.
He told JoyNews Monday, he was beaten up, slapped for unconvincing answers.
The statement from the National Security Secretariat also said Mr Abugri has been handed to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.
It said a medical investigation has been requested on the Journalists by police.
“We are confident that the results of the medical examination will present the truth in the matter, so as to inform the appropriate steps to be taken. In the meantime, the suspect will be arraigned before the court on Tuesday, July 2, and the charges preferred against him will be made known.
“The Secretariat reassures the general public that it will, at all times, continue to respect the rule of law in all of its operations,” the statement from the National Security Secretariat said.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has described as embarrassing, allegations that two journalists from the online portal, Modern Ghana, were arrested, detained and tortured by personnel of the Bureau of National Investigations.
Executive Director of MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, said Monday that recurrent attacks on media freedom are being a grave concern.
“It must be embarrassing for the government for this to have happened. I can’t contemplate what would justify the nature in which we’ve heard that these people were picked up and now we are hearing that they were tortured. It is something that is embarrassing to our country,” he told Joy News.
Gun-wielding operatives stormed the company’s office in Accra without a warrant and strapped the heads of two of the staff in black polythene bags, a staff has claimed.Office of ModernGhana has remained locked
They were then whisked away.
“All we knew was that we were in a building,” editor Emmanuel Ajafor Abugri told JoyNews following his release Saturday.
He said there was no question about alleged cyber crimes. Their captors focussed exclusively on the publication of two articles.
One of the articles related to a protracted conflict at the University of Education, Winneba. The website published a story on National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaah and governing New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Member of Parliament for Effutu constituency, Alexander Afenyo-Markin.
Emmanuel Abugri explained, he received the articles under the name that included ‘Constance’ and published after it met their editorial policy.
He stressed to the operatives “I am not the one who wrote it”, an answer he alleged, offended the operatives.
The journalist said, the operatives did not believe he could go ahead and publish an opinion from an unacquainted source and concluded the article was authored by him.
“They beat me a lot,” he claimed.
Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana has condemned the detention of the journalists by National Security operatives describing it is a clear sign the country is lagging behind when it comes to press freedom.
Sulemana Briamah has also urged the law enforcement agencies to respect the rights of the journalists.
“Government must immediately take steps to ensure that if these people have committed any office, they are handled in accordance with the law…their rights must be respected. I don’t think here in Ghana journalists can be picked and tortured,” he said.
Since January 2018, at least 11 journalists have come under one attack or the other, from the public and even the police.
Ghana has lost its place as Africa’s bastion of press freedom in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. Ghana fell four places to 27th out of 180 countries.