The Tema Circuit Court has remanded the Deputy Station Coordinator of Radio Ada, Noah Dameh, for publishing “false news” about businessman Daniel McKorley (McDan), whose company has been given the concession to mine salt in Ada.
Noah was remanded in the custody of the Tema Habour police on March 30, 2023, and is expected to reappear before the court on April 13, 2023.
His lawyer, Samuel Ofosu, told The Fourth Estate that after Noah was discharged in December last year because the court lacked jurisdiction in dealing with the charges proffered against him.
He was charged with the publication of false news contrary to section 208 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
However, immediately after he walked out of the courtroom, the police arrested him and granted him a police enquiry bail.
“Curiously, they had refiled the case under a different section of the law which makes publishing false news a misdemeanour,” the lawyer said.
“Apparently, they had appeared before the court three times. The difficulty here is that we had no notification of this second suit because if we had, we would have appeared in court, as we’ve done in the earlier suit. Mr Dameh has always appeared in court to stand trial,” he said.
After the police failed to notify him of their latest case against him, Noah’s lawyer said they had an unusual call to action.
The person who stood surety for Noah was served a notice ordering him to produce Noah in court on Thursday, March 30, 2023.
That was done. However, the court remanded him.
Noah’s colleague at Radio Ada, Gideon Amanor Dzeagu, who is also the Head of the Programme, told The Fourth Estate that the police prosecutor had alleged in court that “he went looking for Noah on two occasions in Ada but did not find him.”
Based on that, the prosecutor asked that Noah should be remanded so he could be at the next court session.
The presiding judge agreed and Noah has since been in police custody since Thursday.
The Facebook post
Noah Narh Dameh had made a post on his Facebook wall about the sidelining of indigenous salt miners by some Chiefs of Ada and Daniel McKorley (McDan), whose company has been given the concession to mine salt in Ada.
Daniel McKorley is the founder of Electrochem Ghana, a subsidiary of the McDan Group. Electrochem Ghana now operates the defunct Songor salt factory.
Noah Narh Dameh’s Facebook post on May 8, 2022, had a picture of McDan and a young man in bandages and handcuffed to a hospital bed. The post incurred the displeasure of Mr McKorley, who reported it to the police.
The police subsequently invited Mr Dameh, who is a co-host of the Manor Munyu current affairs programme on Radio Ada, for questioning.
According to the police facts sheet sighted by The Fourth Estate, “…the news posted was false and because the accused person attached the photograph of Dr. McKorley his life is in danger within the community where his company undertakes project.”
It said when Noah Dameh was invited to the police station, “he could not justify why he posted the news with a photograph of Dr. Daniel Mckorley on his Facebook wall…”
Below is the text Noah posted with the photograph:
Must our people suffer torture and bullet wounds for speaking against their source of livelihood that is being grabbed from them?
What is preventing Daniel McKorley – McDan from going into vegetable and livestock farming as he stated but rather removing the hands of Ada people from their cultural salt-winning business to farm as alternative livelihood.
Must the Nation’s human right activists continue to remain silent because McDan is more powerful than the laws of Ghana, groups and individuals?
Must the people of Ada take the law into their own hands to take back their source of livelihood because of hunger and ordeal they are going through?
Nene Lomo IV, Chief of Ada Lomobiawe division,
Nene Agudey Obitchere III, Manklalo of Ada and Naana Adikie Adi, Queen mother of Adibiawe division, to ask, were you installed by your people as PROs for McDan and his ElectroChem salt production company or you have been installed to serve the interest of your people?
Is it best to mandate one person to control salt for the entire nation?
For how long will you use the National media to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians and the international world.
You are compressing peoples anger into a glass bottle and when it explodes, it will not go well with Ghanaians.
McDan can not feed over 15, 000 salt winners, producers and sellers in Ada as you are proclaiming on the commercial media.
You are accountable for the peoples inheritance, their livelihood, culture and habitat that is being snatched by McDan through your support.
The charge sheet stating the particulars of the offence,which the police presented to the court, reads:
“Noah Narh Dameh, journalist: On the 8th of May 2022, at Ada in the Tema District and within the jurisdiction of this court, you made a publication on your Facebook wall and displayed the photograph of Dr Daniel Mckorley and one Benjamin Anim in handcuffs at Dzodze Hospital and attributed the said Benjamin Anim in handcuffs at the hospital as an action undertaken by Dr Daniel Mckorley, news which you well know to be false at the time of publishing it.”
In his statement to the Police, Noah Dameh recounted that Benjamin Anim, the young man handcuffed to the hospital bed, tried to prevent the abduction of a fellow community member who was struggling with some men suspected to be land guards. The suspected land guards were said to be forcing Benjamin into a private vehicle.
“On Friday, 14th May 2021, at about 2:00 p.m., Benjamin Anim was on a motorbike heading to the Wudakope lagoon site, otherwise known as Star Chemical,” Noah said in a typed statement to the police.
“On reaching the site he found one of his fellow Salom community members, Peter Anim, struggling with four men who were forcibly putting him into a private Opel vehicle with registration number GW 8486-11 to be driven away.
“Benjamin Anim suspected the men to be among the land guards and men in police uniform who shot at community members at Salom and Madagber on the 5th of February 2021, when the community members raised issues over the Songor lagoon lease awarded to Electrochem company,” part of the statement said.
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He told the police that when Benjamin Anim rushed to rescue his fellow Salom community member, he hit his hand against the vehicle and sustained cuts in the process. He said Benjamin later sought medical attention at Sege and later asked for a referral to a health facility at Dzodze.
According to Noah Dameh, the District Police commander for Sege, DSP George Aboagye, and five others on May 16, 2022, handcuffed Benjamin to the hospital bed for five weeks without access to lavatory.
“As a result, Benjamin Anim sustained a sore patch of the skin around his wrist where the handcuff was worn for many days. Again, lying on his back only for all the five weeks resulted in his back developing sore,” he narrated in the police statement.
Benjamin Anim was put in police cells in Dzodze and later arraigned before a court in Tema. Together with other community members, he is facing trial for allegedly destroying the property belonging to ElectroChem company, the company owned by McDan.
A photograph of Benjamin handcuffed to a hospital bed and that of McDan were put together in the Facebook post that got Noah into trouble.
There have been protests by residents of Ada who say their livelihoods were taken from them when the salt they had mined all their lives was given to McDan’s ElectroChem.
Some of the residents have been arrested and are now facing various charges and prosecution.
Noah Dameh’s Radio Ada, which has championed the cause of the indigenes was attacked and vandalised by thugs in January this year. The attackers are yet to be arrested.
In August 2022, chiefs of the Ada Traditional Area banned Radio Ada from covering the traditional festival of the area.
Noah Dameh and two others were specifically warned to stay away from the grounds of the festival.