Accra, Ghana, July 15, 2019//-Deputy Editor of ModernGhana.com, Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri has sued the National Security Co-ordinator, demanding adequate and prompt compensation, release and surrender of all seized items, as well as criminal prosecution or punishment for individual officials who were directly or indirectly involved in human rights violations against him.
He also wants the court to provide any other remedies that it deems fit regarding various acts of torture, including other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatments, on him.
IGP, Attorney-General attached in the suit
The suit, filed in the Human Rights Division of an Accra High Court and dated Thursday, July 11, 2019, attached the Inspector General of Police (IGP) as second respondent and Attorney-General as third respondent.
Violation of right to personal liberty
He argued that by arresting him without a court warrant and without first informing him of the reasons for his arrest, the National Security Co-ordinator, IGP and Attorney-General, or their officials, have violated his right to personal liberty and are violating or are likely to violate his right to fair trial.
Detention for more than 48 hours
According to him, restricting his movement from Thursday, June 27, through to Saturday, June 29, 2019, without sending him to a court of competent jurisdiction to be considered for admission to bail, the National Security Co-ordinator or his officials violated his right to personal liberty and administrative justice, and, are violating or are likely to violate his right to fair trial.
Various acts of torture
He alleged that by performing various acts of torture, including other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatments on him while he was in their custody, the National Security Co-ordinator or his officials have violated his right to human dignity and are violating or are likely to violate his right to fair trial.
Particulars of torture
a. That the said officials did sit me in a chair with my hands and legs tied and my head intermittently covered with a black polythene bag, making respiration and vision a serious challenge for me;
b. That the said officials did administer several slaps to me, one using his elbow to hit my backbone when I refused to talk or said something or gave them an answer which they did not seem to like;
c. That the said officials did administer mild electric shocks to parts of my body, including my ears, when I refused to talk, or said something or gave them an answer which they did not seem to like;
d. That the said officials did, under the threat of harm, force me to perform several military-style drills in-between the interrogation, particularly anytime I refused to talk, or said something or gave them an answer which they did not seem to like; and
e. That the said officials did use insulting, intimidating and abusive words on me during the interrogation.
Forcibly seizing electronic gadgets
“That by forcibly seizing my electronic gadgets and going ahead to access their content without my consent or a court warrant, 1st and 2nd Respondents or their officials have violated my right to privacy; and are violating or are likely to violate my right to fair trial”.
Denied right to counsel
“That by subjecting me to interrogation or questioning me without informing me of my right to counsel or without giving me an opportunity to have a lawyer of my choice present, the officials of the 1st and 2nd Respondents have violated, are violating or are likely to violate my right to fair trial”.
Right to freedom of expression
“That by questioning me, a journalist, in respect of a media publication they attributed to me or the media organisation I work for and going ahead to, under the pain of harm or the threat of it, warn me, the 1st Respondent or his officials have harassed and intimidated me; and have, thereby, violated, are violating or are likely to violate my right to freedom of expression or to information and to practice journalism freely,” he stressed.
Location of arrest
Providing details of his ordeal, Ajarfor said on Thursday, June 27, 2019, he was arrested in ModernGhana.com office near the A&C Mall, East Legon, by three persons who identified themselves as officials of the National Security Council Secretariat (and, thereby, acting under the command, control and instruction of the National Security Co-ordinator) and two uniformed officers of the Ghana Police Service who wielded an AK47 assault rifle each (and, thereby, acting under the command, control and instruction of the 2nd Respondent).
Seizing of electronic gadgets without court warrant
According to him, the said persons immediately and forcefully, through imminent threat of harm and without a court warrant, seized from him an HP laptop computer, two mobile phones – an Infinix Zero 4 and an Infinix Zero 5 – and a Huawei tablet.
Head was covered with a black polythene bag
He explained that together with another colleague, they were immediately bungled and forced into a waiting vehicle, and his head was covered with a black polythene bag, and driven to an unknown location in Accra.
Upon arrival at the said unknown location, he said other officials, ostensibly acting under the control, command or instructions of the National Security Co-ordinator, joined their three other colleagues who arrested him earlier to interrogate him at night in respect of articles ModernGhana.com had published on the Minister of National Security.
The said publications which essentially called for the removal from office of the said Minister were an opinion article authored by one Constance Kwabeng of a group calling itself the United Patriots Group and a press release under the hand of the same person and for the same group, titled ‘NPP Members Warn Akufo Addo to sack Kan Dappah Now’.
Ajarfor said following a complaint by officers of National Security, the publications were removed a day before they were arrested.
The deputy editor claimed that during interrogations, officers of the National Security sought the identity of the said Constance Kwabeng and also questioned why ModernGhana.com had allowed a columnist, a law lecturer and director of University of Education Basic Schools, Alhassan Salifu Bawah, much room to dedicate his column on the news portal to publications about developments at the said university, often castigating the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, and heaping blame on him for the university’s prolonged troubles.
As at the time of interrogation, the columnist had 110 publications on his said column, and almost all are dedicated to the burning issue at the said university, with substantial focus on Afenyo-Markin, and the most recent of the publications, involving a letter copied to the National Security Minister, was the focus of the second part of the said interrogation, though briefly.
Ajarfor explained that after their release, they were accompanied by their manager and a brother to formally lodge a complaint of assault at the Legon Police Station at 6:10pm, and it is recorded in the complaint that they reported to the police station “with visible marks of assault”.
They reported that on Thursday, June, 27 2019, at about 4pm, they were picked up by five men to the National Security office and were beaten up without any good cause, hence the report for action and medical forms were issued to them to attend hospital for treatment and report back for further help.
He pledged to make available to the court, evidence of medical care and the sham of abortive prosecution in which charges were filed against him and two others.