Claim: Ghana Police Service has said it did not arrest a BBC journalist, Thomas Naadi, and his cameraman when the service rounded up some protesters in Accra on September 21, 2023.
Verdict: False. The BBC journalist, Thomas Naadi, confirmed that he was among the journalists arrested by the police. Also, the Ghana Journalists Association has said its investigations revealed correspondents from the BBC, AFP, and AP were among some journalists arrested despite “properly” identifying themselves.
The first day of the three-day protest organised by a Ghanaian pro-democracy group known as Democracy Hub turned chaotic when the police rounded up 49 of the protesters for “unlawful assembly.” Several news reports (here, here, here, and here) provided details of the chaos.
The group’s protests are aimed at the government to address the country’s worsening economic situation which has resulted in rising unemployment, corruption, and high inflation.
Once described as the world’s fastest-growing economy (here, here, and here) in 2019 by the World Bank, Ghana is now dealing with an economic crisis after doubling its economic growth. According to the World Bank, a combination of domestic imbalances and external shocks in 2022 are responsible for Ghana’s macroeconomic challenges.
“The year was marked by currency depreciation, rising inflation, and tumbling investor confidence… Economic growth is projected to slow down to 1.5% and remain depressed in 2024 at 2.8%,” the global financial agency said.
The group has also accused the government of running down the country’s economy “leaving struggling Ghanaians to their fate.”
“As we wait for the court to determine the matter, we wish to urge the public to take note and disregard any calls from any individuals or groups encouraging them to assemble for a demonstration at the Jubilee House,” the Police stated.
However, the group proceeded with the demonstration, which, according to news reports, (here, here, here, and here) led to the arrest of 49 people, including a BBC journalist, Thomas Naadi and his cameraman. They were reported to be arrested on charges of ‘unlawful assembly’.
However, the police have denied arresting the BBC journalist and his cameraman in a statement published on September 21, 2023.
Part of the report reads,
“The attention of the police has been drawn to an erroneous report by a section of the media that a BBC reporter and his cameraman have been arrested. The Police would like to put on record that the report is false and should be disregarded.”
DUBAWA decided to probe the claim by the Ghana police.
The BBC journalist, Thomas Naadi, confirmed he was among some journalists arrested by the police on the first day of the protest.
“My cameraman and I were picked at this nearby fuel station for covering the event,” Mr Naadi said.
He later told the BBC Focus on Africa on September 22, 2023, that he was released together with his colleague after the arrest.
“The 49 protesters who were arrested have now been released after being charged with unlawful assembly and some journalists were also arrested and I was among those arrested,” he said.
Furthermore, this video (from the 1:45 minute) shows the BBC reporter being conveyed in the bucket of a police pick.
DUBAWA also asked if he had identified himself as a journalist to the police on the day of his arrest, Mr Naadi replied that “I showed them my BBC ID card.”
“We clearly identified ourselves as journalists. We were arrested for covering the protests,” the BBC reporter added.
Also, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) issued a press statement on September 22, 2023, that their investigations into the incident revealed some correspondents of foreign media organisations such as the BBC, AFP, and AP were among some journalists arrested despite “properly” identifying themselves.
“The GJA is utterly disappointed in the Police for lowering the bar of professionalism by arresting and maltreating journalists who did not breach any law,” the Association said.
Accra-based radio station Citi FM reported that “a BBC reporter, Thomas Naadi and his cameraman were arrested as part of the protesters of the #OccupyJulorbiHouse demonstration Thursday (September 21, 2023) morning.”
“Naadi and the cameraman were subsequently released after they identified themselves as journalists during a screening by the Police,” the media organisation said.
Similarly, the police’s statement denying the arrest appears to have confirmed media reports that the BBC reporter and his colleague were arrested during the swoop.
“During their screening process, two persons identified themselves as journalists and were immediately allowed to go,” the police statement said.
The statement by the Ghana Police Service ties in with the report by the BBC journalist that he was released together with his colleague when they identified themselves as journalists.
“My cameraman and I were picked up at this nearby fuel station for covering the event, but later released,” Mr Naadi told the BBC.
The BBC discussion was also reported by Ghanaian media outlets.
It is, therefore, false for the Ghana Police Service to deny the arrest of the BBC reporter and his cameraman.
The BBC journalist, Thomas Naadi and his cameraman were arrested by the police when they rounded up some protesters on September 21, 2023, on charges of “unlawful assembly.”
The Ghana Journalists Association has said its investigations revealed correspondents from the BBC, AFP, and AP were among some journalists arrested by the police despite “properly” identifying themselves.