Accra Mayor Arrests Journalists, Vendor

The Chief executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Alfred Oko Vanderpuije on Saturday night ordered the arrest of a reporter and TV crew of Multimedia’s TV station, MultiTV.

Recently, Mr Vanderpuije ordered the arrest of Thomas Ansah, a newspaper vendor at the Railways area of the Central Business District CBD.

The news team went to film the living conditions of people of Mensah Guinea community after metropolitan authorities demolished make-shift structures housing them.

The residents were accused of breeding cholera in the capital through insanitary conditions.

Joynews’ Joojoh Cobbinah and Festus Solomon, reporters at the scene, said while they were filming and speaking to some people in the community they were informed that the Mayor had come to arrest them.

He said with the help of some residents, he was able to escape before the police arrived at the scene but the driver Felix Akunor who was with them was arrested.

Mr. Akunor said the Mayor seized his phone to prevent him from alerting his two-man crew, who were covering a story about how some residents were dealing with the demolition of their homes.

The driver said he was picked up by two police men, the Accra Mayor Alfred Okoh Vanderpuije and staff of AMA, for parking at the Mensah Guinea slum, which had been demolished.

He said he was ordered to drive to the Ministries Police Station.

‘I told the police I had not committed any crime but they insisted that I write a statement about what I was doing at the community.’

At the police station Mr, Akunor said he was interrogated for about two hours by police officers.

The Mayor, who followed the police to the Ministries Police station, picked up a police statement form and drove away to write his statement.

When Head of Joynews Television Channel, Emma Morrison and the Programmes Manager of Multi TV Abdulai Awudu inquired from the police why the driver had been arrested, the Police could not tell why they kept the driver except to say they were investigating circumstances under which the Mayor caused the arrest of the driver.

One of the policemen said, ‘Maybe he was arrested because of national interest.’

The Mayor, who returned to the police station, refused to engage staff of Multimedia, who had come to post bail for the release of the driver.

He waved them off, entered the crime office, presented his statement and drove off.

After the head of Joynews TV signed the bail documents, the police asked her to bring the driver back for full investigations into the issue on Monday at 10am.

The Mayor is also expected to be at the police station to explain why he caused the arrest of the driver.

However, Sunday afternoon, Mr. Vanderpuije told Joynews he ordered the arrest of the journalist because they were fabricating stories to make government look bad.

‘I had received a call that reporters from Adom TV had come over here and told the people they there to help so they got them to lie down on the ground in batches and they were filming them to make a case that government had made them homeless.’

He said within five minutes after receiving the call from the residents, he and a team of police officers arrived at the community, arrested the driver after the other members of the crew had absconded.

He insisted that the mission of the team was not to do genuine journalistic work but dent government’s image with a concocted story.

Vendor Arrest                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Mr. Vonderpuije arrested Thomas Ansah for selling newspapers at the CBD and alleged seized all his products and the newsstand.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that the Mayor’s bodyguard handcuffed Ansah and sent him to the AMA head office.

He was later freed after interrogation but did not get his newspapers.

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