Private Lawyer Samson Lardy Anyenini has advised the Multi TV team arrested last Friday on the order of the Accra Mayor, Alfred Vanderpuije to proceed with a counter civil suit against him and others.
The station’s driver, Felix Akunor was arrested Saturday on the spot while on official duty with his colleagues. And on Monday when reporters Joojo Cobbina and Festus Solomon reported at the Ministries Police station in Accra, they were charged with offensive conduct.
Speaking to the issue on Joy FM’s News Night Monday, Mr. Lardy said the Multi TV journalists equally have the right to sue Mr. Vanderpuije, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Alhassan and the Attorney General in a counter civil suit.
“This charge is rather offensive and I’m saying they have the recourse to civil action in unlawful arrest, in false imprisonment and also the breach of their constitutional rights and they should do so and let’s see if the mayor and his people will survive and escape such a suit. They will not survive it. I can bet my last pesewa on that; they will not survive it,” he said.
The crew had gone to report on the plight of the people of Mensah Guinea just after their illegal structures were demolished by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly Friday. The squatters were accused of breeding cholera in the capital through insanitary conditions.
Mr. Ayenini continued that the situation was rather portraying the mayor as the victim, but described the move as “bizarre, scandalous; and this act is rather an act which is offensive and most offensive.”
The learned man explained “they [crew] have right to recourse to civil action and file same to be jointly and severally liable for unlawful arrest, for false imprisonment and the breach of their constitutional right to work lawfully without any such hindrances,” he explained.
“The facts as we know them so far, there is no crime even if it is true that they went there and sought to ask the people to lie down so that they can film, what is the business of the mayor in that in calling the police to go there and arrest them and the police acting like puppets being directed by the mayor to go and arrest them for what?” he questioned.
Multi TV’s Joojo 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.
Joojo said with the help of some residents, he was able to escape before the police arrived at the scene but their driver Felix Akunor, was arrested.
Mr. Akunor said the Mayor seized his phone to prevent him from alerting his two-man crew who were covering the story.
However, Sunday afternoon, Mr. Vanderpuije told Joy News 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 are here 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 absconded.
He insisted the mission of the team was not to do genuine journalistic work but dent government’s image with a concocted story.
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