The lawyer for Multimedia journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, has revealed that his client has been provided with state security following incessant threats on his life.
“He has state protection at this time,” Samson Lardy Anyenini confirmed to Daniel Dadzie, host of Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Tuesday.
According to the private legal practitioner, the role of the National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaah in facilitating this deserves praise.
State security for the Head of Multimedia’s investigative desk follows his recent work ‘Militia in the heart of the nation’ which is believed to have ruffled feathers in higher echelons of power.
The documentary highlighted how a private militia, De Eye Group used the former seat of government, the Christiansburg Castle, Osu as its training ground and operational head office.
It also identifies the head of the group, Nana Wireko Addo, popularly known as ‘Choman’ as a one time bodyguard of the President, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo.
Speaking of deteriorating press freedom at a recent seminar organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa, Professor Kwame Karikari, Board Member of the Foundation cited the fallouts from Mr. Azure’s work as evidence of threats to media freedom.
According to him, “in most of March and April this year, the very well-known and respected investigative journalist of Multimedia fame Manasseh Azure Awuni spent virtually all of March and April this year running and hiding from rogue elements of unknown identities who were bent on a campaign to murder him.”
Prof. Karikari continued: “At first, Manasseh’s employers kept moving him from hiding place to hiding place.
“The police came in to provide him bodyguards for protection during the day”.
“Even this was not enough. The threat got so unbearable the Media Foundation for West Africa had to step in to find refuge or safe haven for him in a foreign country,” he recounted.
Confirmation of threat
The revelation which shocked many has been confirmed by Mr. Lardy Ayenini
“There have been attempts on his life and that of his family,” Samson revealed.
“Since the documentary, he has struggled with a peaceful life around town. Impregnable intelligence shows that things have been done and are being done, suspicious characters keep appearing and disappearing,” he added.
According to Mr. Anyenini, it was the decision of his team not to make these threats on the life of the journalist public. In fact, they were apprehensive when the good professor mentioned it. But upon sober reflection, they have come to appreciate that it is important that some level of disclosure was made.
Nature of the threat
Explaining the nature of the threats without giving too much detail, Mr. Ayinini said prior to the security interventions some suspicious characters were spotted within the environs of his client.
Even though they could not identify these sneaky fellows, they disappeared sensing that their cover had been blown.
This was after the police and other security agencies came in.
The lawyer alleged that the threats came from people in the security services even though he believes they had no official authorization.
Samson suspects that these attackers were persons who might have been affected by Mr. Azure’s works.
He praised the national security minister for his excellent work in keeping the journalist safe.
On his part, Ben Dotsei Malor, former BBC Fast Track anchor commenting on the development in a recent Facebook post said that “the evil elements threatening the life of Manasseh Azure Awuni must be identified, exposed, and prosecuted.
“The Government and the ruling party, whose unconstitutional and destabilizing schemes Manasseh’s documentary exposed, must come out to show that they are not after the life of this young man. They cannot continue to use legal and other means to intimidate, silence, and threaten this conscientious and patriotic journalist.
“LEADERSHIP at all levels of Ghanaian society must condemn this troubling development that has already seen one investigative journalist Ahmed Sualeh killed this year. Traditional leaders need to raise their voices. Leaders of the Christian and Muslim faiths must be heard. Leadership of all influential groups, civil society organisations, and conscientious citizen-members of the ruling party must take a stand,” he said.
Since the repeal of the criminal libel law in 2001, there has been a remarkable expansion in media outlets in Ghana. According to the National Communications Authority, there are 392 operational radio stations in Ghana and 128 licensed TV operators.
Ghana boasts a media pluralism and freedom that has been ranked first in Africa according to the World Press Freedom Index.
Recent disturbing developments in the media landscape, culminating in a drop in Ghana’s ranking on the world press freedom index, have revived calls for better protection for practitioners.
This year, Tiger eye PI staff, Ahmed Hussein Suale was assassinated whilst journalists with the New Times Corporation were also physically assaulted by some police officers. These incidents, according to media activists require media owners and state agencies to ensure journalists are safe on the job as the world marks press freedom day today.