The man arrested in connection with the assault of a toddler has been released after it emerged that he is not the perpetrator, the chief of the community has confirmed to The Fourth Estate.
Nana Oppong Kyekyeku, the chief of Akaa Buem, where the suspect was arrested, said the suspect was sent to his palace after the arrest and he later met with the police when the identity of the suspect was questioned.
He said the suspect, Richard Kofi, was granted bail late Thursday after police had picked him up on Wednesday in Akaa Buem, a community in Jasikan in the Oti Region.
“They arrested him three days ago. They released him just yesterday. They arrested him on his farm. It is true, they brought him to the palace.”
The Fourth Estate first published the story of his arrest but neither the police in Jasikan nor the headquarters in Accra were prepared to confirm or deny the arrest even though the suspect was kept for about 24 hours.
The police in Jasikan and the Oti Regional Command said a new policy from the police administration prohibited them from speaking on the matter and directed The Fourth Estate to the Police Headquarters in Accra. All attempts to get a response from the police public affairs directorate proved futile.
Further checks by The Fourth Estate sources at Jasikan have revealed, Richard Kofi is no longer in police custody. Senior police officials in the region met the Akaa Buem Chief, Nana Oppong Kyekyeku, on Thursday and briefed him on the wrongful arrest.
A Jasikan-based journalist with Buem FM, Odeefour Ventura, who corresponded for The Fourth Estate and spoke to Nana Oppong Kyekyeku, confirmed the arrest and subsequent release of Richard Kofi.
The chief said the police asked Richard Kofi’s child, who is about six years, where the father was. He said the child told them the father was in the farm and then led them to Richard Kofi’s farm where he was arrested. He also confirmed the arrest of Richard Kofi’s wife.
He said when he got to the police station later, the child who had been arrested with the suspect was eating wakye and he realised the child was not the one in the viral video.
“The police told me that ‘this is the child of the man’ and I told them that ‘this child is a girl, but the one that was beaten in the video is a boy’, so didn’t they see the difference? That was the question I asked the police,” Nana Oppong Kyekyeku told The Fourth Estate.
“The police told me that the IGP says the man should be given bail. So yesterday, two of my elders went to the police station at Jasikan to grant him bail.”
The manhunt for the suspected perpetrator remains ongoing. The police have placed a ¢2,000 bounty on the head of the man filmed beating a toddler in a vile attack that has gone viral.
Child Rights International has also promised a ¢10,000 reward for anyone who provides any lead.
Messages of disgust and condemnation of the abuse are awash on social media while the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection has urged the police to find the perpetrator.
According to the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560), “no person shall subject a child to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including any cultural practice which dehumanises or is injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a child.”
Section 13 (2) adds, “No correction of a child is justifiable which is unreasonable in kind or in degree according to the age, physical and mental condition of the child, and no correction is justifiable if the child by reason of tender age or otherwise is incapable of understanding the purpose of the correction.”