The Editor of the Daily Searchlight, Mr Ken Kuranchie, yesterday stepped out of the Nsawam Maximum Security Prison with a resolve to champion the improvement of conditions in Ghana’s prisons.
A sober-looking Kuranchie, clothed in a white striped shirt over a black pair of trousers and shoes to match, said, “Prisoners in Ghana are living in dehumanising conditions.”
“Nobody can say he went to prison without suffering, but the advantage I have gleaned there is that there are dehumanising problems with prisons in this country. There is an urgent need to find out how prisoners sleep, bathe and eat in our prisons,” he told the media a few hours after his release.
The nine-member Supreme Court panel hearing the election petition, on July 2, 2013, sentenced the Daily Searchlight Editor to a 10-day jail term for making a contemptuous statement about the bench.
He made the statement in an editorial his paper published in reaction to the ban the court placed on a Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Sammy Awuku, from making further appearances in court until the end of the case.
Mr Kuranchie painted a gloomy picture of the Nsawam Prison infirmary, describing it as a facility that lacked the most basic necessities.
“If you are at Nsawam and you get sick, you may die. Assuming I was sick, all you would have heard was that Ken Kuranchie is dead,” he added.
He, therefore, called on the media to join him in the crusade to improve living conditions in the country’s prisons.
Ghana’s prisons are notorious for overcrowding and unhygienic conditions. There are currently 13,888 prisoners, made up of 13,686 males and 202 females, in the country’s prisons.
Mr Kuranchie is not the only public figure to have narrated tales of the horrific state of the health facility at the Nsawam Prison. Recently, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, who, in 2006, spent time at the prison after being convicted of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, shared his near-death experience when he had an asthmatic attack while in prison.
Mr Kuranchie, who shared his adventure in custody with the media, said the experience was a traumatising one.
“It was traumatic. If you are picked at dawn and transported by men with guns through the night, it is frightening. But after the darkness was the day,” he said.
A staunch supporter of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Kuranchie said at a point he felt there were unseen hands controlling the prison officers.
He, however, expressed appreciation to the prison wardens for protecting him throughout his sojourn to the different prisons.
In an interesting twist, he also expressed appreciation to President John Dramani Mahama, members of the National Democratic Congress, the NPP’s 2012 presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the leadership of the NPP for their support during his difficult moments.
Sounding rather philosophical, he said although an ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, had been jailed for questioning the status quo, posterity remembered him for that stance.
When the Daily Graphic arrived at his two-storey office at Pig Farm in Accra, after waiting for hours for his release from Nsawam, he was flanked by ecstatic relatives, employees and NPP supporters.
Downstairs, a brass band, the Overcomers Professional Brass Band, was busily dishing out gospel tunes, with NPP sympathisers twisting, turning and wriggling to the songs.
After hours of selling his prison tales to the audience, Kuranchie came down the stairs, arm-in-arm with his sister, Irene, while a cloud of white talcum powder landed on his face from all directions.
Mobbed by NPP sympathisers, family members and friends and a sister who could not help but break into a dance, Mr Kuranchie managed to enter an Audi A6 saloon car, with registration number GR 83-11, for a ride to the NPP headquarters at Asylum Down.
There, the celebration was in the form of a procession along some streets in the immediate environs, with cars tooting their horns, while there were chants, hand waving and smiles from almost everybody present.