Ghanaian authorities should ensure that the local politician and aide who recently assaulted and threatened to kill journalist Abubakari Sadiq Gariba are held to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On the evening of May 3, Iddrisu Hardi, a former regional deputy communication officer for the National Democratic Congress party, and local resident Mumuni Osman were captured on video attacking and threatening Gariba while he was live on his weekly talk show “Panpantua,” at the office of the privately owned broadcaster Dagbon FM in the northern Tamale region.
On May 7, police arrested both attackers and said they would present them in court, according to Gariba and news reports.
“Authorities in Ghana must ensure justice is served after two men attacked and threatened journalist Abubakari Sadiq Gariba as he broadcast live,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “Too often in Ghana, there is talk of investigations by police for attacks on journalists but there is no real accountability. Authorities must reverse this trend.”
Prior to the incident, Osman and Hardi, a member of the National Democratic Congress party who had appeared as a regular guest on Dagbon FM, asked a security officer at the station’s office for access to the studio to speak with Gariba, according to Gariba and another Dagbon FM presenter and producer Yussif Fuseini, who spoke to CPJ by phone.
The security officer asked Hardi and Osman to wait until he could confirm their appointment, but they refused.
Hardi and Osman entered the studio, and Hardi grabbed Gariba by the top of his shirt, tightening it around the journalist’s neck causing him to have difficulty breathing. Hardi then pulled Gariba up from his seat and pushed him against the wall, as the pair threatened to “knock the hell out of” Gariba if he dared to speak further about Hardi on his program, according to those sources and a report by state-owned news website Graphic.
“The next thing he [Osman] said was if I don’t desist from mentioning the gentleman’s [Hardi’s] name, he would kill me,” Gariba said, adding that he responded to the attack by requesting that the three of them go outside to resolve their dispute, which they did.
Hardi and Osman continued verbally confronting Gariba about his work until a Dagbon FM colleague intervened and convinced Hardi and Osman to leave, Gariba said.
Gariba said he believes the attack was connected to an April 24 episode of Panpantua in which the journalist critiqued a campaign broadcast in which Hardi allegedly attempted to dissuade Abudu and Andani clan members in Ghana’s northern Dagbon area from supporting each other during the upcoming primary election for the National Democratic Congress party.
When CPJ called Hardi, a person answered and said the case was in court and that Hardi did not have access to his phone, and declined to comment further. CPJ was unable to locate contact information for Osman.
CPJ’s calls to police spokesperson Grace Ansah-Akrofi did not receive a response. David Ananga, the regional crime officer in charge of investigating the attack, requested CPJ send him questions via messaging app, which CPJ sent. He did not respond by the time of publication.
Since January 2019, CPJ has documented a broad pattern of impunity for abuses against over 30 journalists and media workers in Ghana, including the 2019 murder of journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale Divela.