At about 11:30 a.m. on January 13, ten masked men forced open a studio door at the privately owned broadcaster’s office in the Ada district of the greater Accra region, and attacked and threatened its staff, according to multiple news reports and Radio Ada presenter Korle Adjaotor Sorngortse, who spoke by phone with CPJ.
The attackers, one of whom carried a pistol, hit and kicked Sorngortse all over his body for more than 10 minutes, shoved receptionist Ruby Ate and held her in her chair, and forced producer and anchor Gideon Amanor Dzeagu to kneel while they ransacked the office, according to those sources and Dzeagu, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
After about 15 minutes, the men left the scene and threatened to return and shoot people if Radio Ada FM continued reporting on a mining contract recently granted to the Electrochem company, according to those sources.
Julius said his office reported the attack to police, who have opened an investigation.
“Authorities in Ghana must swiftly identify those who planned and perpetrated the recent attack on Radio Ada FM, and hold them accountable,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “These physical attacks on members of the press and attempts at intimidation are far too common in Ghana, and should not be tolerated.”
The attackers monitored the broadcaster from a nearby bar for over three hours before entering the office, according to those reports and Dzeagu, who said he saw the men at the bar.
Dzeagu and Odoi Julius, a producer and officer in charge of external communications at Radio Ada FM, told CPJ by phone that the outlet’s reporting showed that the Electrochem contract would require some people to be relocated, and that a protest had been planned against the deal.
That protest was scheduled for the same day the broadcaster was attacked, they said. Two protest organizers were at the station during the raid, and one of the attackers hit one of the organizers, Sorngortse and Dzeagu told CPJ. They added that the protest was later cancelled after organizers were unable to acquire police protection.
The attackers repeatedly asked to see Noah Dameh, who led the “Manor Munyu” news program that covered the Electrochem case, but left the studio after being told he was not there, according to Dzeagu and those news reports.
The attackers destroyed two computers used for recording, a sound mixer, and three sets of headphones, Dzeagu, Sorngortse, and Julius told CPJ.
Sorngortse told CPJ that he continues to experience severe pain in his head and neck from the beating, and his left eye remains swollen.
When CPJ called Ada district Police Commander Kojo Mifetu for comment, he said authorities had not yet identified the attackers.
CPJ called and texted Electrochem, and its parent company the McDan Group, for comment, but did not receive any replies.