The Ghana Police Service has apologised to the media for assault on journalists during the hearing of the case involving Reverend Owusu Bempah, head pastor of the Glorious Word Power Ministries International, and four others, at Accra Circuit court, on Monday.
It apologised unreservedly for the inconvenience, and wished to give the assurance that journalists will be fully protected and allowed to do their work at all times, including the subsequent coverage of this case.
A statement signed by the acting Director-General of the Police Public Affairs, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Kwesi Ofori, copied to the Ghanaian Times, in Accra, yesterday, said it has come to the attention of the Police Administration that three days ago, some journalists were heckled by the police at the court.
According to ACP Ofori it was also reported that some journalists were attacked and prevented from working at the court premises by some persons believed to be church members and supporters of the accused.
He said a team was currently studying the footage on the alleged assault of some the journalists, to identify the alleged perpetrators for immediate prosecution.
The Director-General assured that the police would deepen the police-media cordial relationship.
The Ghanaian Times in its Tuesday, September 14,2021 reported that heavily armed policemen and body guards of Rev Bempah, who escorted him to court on Monday, heckled, manhandled, and prevented journalists from taking photographs of the pastor.
The police allowed only church members into the court room and prevented journalists from covering proceedings with the excuse that they had to seek clearance before they could enter the court room.
Even members of the Judicial Press Corps who were accredited by the Judicial Service to cover court cases were not spared.
Rev Bempah appeared in court for the first time after he and four others attacked policemen in his church premises at the weekend.
His church members, mostly women and young men, cursed, cast innuendos, insulted and threatened the life of journalists, who took videos and pictures of the pastor as he was ushered into the court room in a Rambo-style.
Before his arrival in a red Toyota Corolla with registration number UW 245-19, the four others connected to the attack were brought in handcuffs in a police vehicle.
But policemen, his supporters and well-wishers were agitated when journalists started rolling their cameras to provide live coverage of the incident.
At the entrance of the court, the police mounted a barricade and allowed only lawyers and Rev Bempah’s church members and junior pastors in the court room.
The few journalists who had access to the court did so because they came in the company of Rev Bempah’s suit wearing legal team.
Proceedings turned dramatic when Muntala Inusah, a senior journalist with the EIB Network, was bundled out of the court by three policemen and four bodyguards of Rev Bempah, for allegedly taking pictures in the court room.
The allegation turned out to be false after his phone was thoroughly scrutinised and no footage was found, and he was eventually allowed to cover proceedings.
BY ANITA NYARKO YIRENKYI