A Freelance Journalist, Sacut Amenga-Etego, was on Tuesday re-arrested by National Security shortly after the Criminal Court 4 Division of the High Court discharged him.
He was picked up on Friday after National Security operatives detected that he had filmed the courtroom during a live trial.
Her Ladyship, Lydia Osei Marfo, subsequently ordered his detention and the surrender of his phone and passwords to enable investigation into his conduct. Alarmed by the Freelancer’s conduct, Her Ladyship described it as a threat to the Court if not the country at large
The National Security operatives reported to Her Ladyship on Tuesday, their findings. Seeing the report and attached annexures, Her Ladyship said she “purposed to cause Sacut to read a bit of what he had said on his WhatsApp page against me as a person, but for the respect I have for my learned friends who have come on his behalf, I will not let him read it.”
Her Ladyship, however, captured excerpts of Sacut’s WhatsApp Communication concerning Her Ladyship. The WhatsApp chats to an unidentified recipient as quoted by the Court are as follows:
“Judge is clearly against the state prosecutor”. In another, he went like, “but she is biased against the foreigners”. Then he went ahead, “she is using the fact that they are foreigners”, “hopefully she does not oppose bail application”.
Then another which I find as interesting is “she is a small girl”; “she is granting bail”, “she also refuses them bail, of course on the basis of being foreigners”, “she is a bitch”, among others.
A further request by the National Investigations Bureau (NIB) to retain his phone, and for access to the said phone to enable further investigations, was turned down by the Court.
“For purposes of the exercise, we are doing today, I am unable to grant the request. However, the investigators know the right process to have these gadgets investigated. In the interim, however, those phones can be kept for the next five days after which if they have not approached any Court for an order to extract information thereon, the same should be given back to the owner.”
“I have not cited Sacut for any contempt of the Court. I have no desire to do so, although he has bruised my ego. I will hereby discharge him to go out of my Court as a free man. I am very grateful to his lawyers as well for the respect they have given to this Court,” Her Ladyship, Lydia Osei Marfo, ruled.
Arrest of journalists
Within three weeks, four journalists and activists have been arrested by the police, often for allegations they made on radio or on social media, which according to the police are false.
The arrested persons include; Accra FM’s Bobie Ansah, Power FM’s Oheneba Boamah Bennie, and the Executive Director of the Alliance For Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), Mensah Thompson who were all slapped with the charge of publication of false news and offensive conduct.
Many stakeholders have condemned these arrests. The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, added his voice to growing concerns over the arrest of journalists in recent times.
He says detaining journalists over allegations of false publications and misreporting is archaic and must not be entertained. For the Speaker, such incidents are not criminal matters, but civil.