The Tema Circuit Court has granted the Deputy Station Coordinator of Radio Ada, Noah Narh Dameh, a GHC60,000 bail.
Noah was released on April 6, 2022, after spending six days in police custody on remand. He had been charged with publishing ‘false news’ about a businessman, Daniel McKorley (McDan), whose company has been granted a controversial lease to mine salt in Ada.
The court remanded him into police custody on March 30, 2023, to reappear on April 13, 2023, after the prosecution’s claim that he had failed to come to court to face his charges. Noah denied the accusation.
Making a case for his release on bail, his lawyer, Samuel Ofosu, assured the court that Noah was a person of substance and would make himself available for investigations and trial.
The prosecution opposed the bail on the grounds that Noah’s place of abode was unknown, but his lawyers were quick to point out that the investigator had established that.
The presiding judge, Benedicta Antwi, agreed with Noah’s lawyers and granted him bail.
As part of his bail condition, Noah had to present three sureties including two civil servants earning at least GH₵ 1,000 a month.
The court also directed that the accused report himself to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Tema Regional Police Command every week, specifically on Fridays.
Noah Dameh will appear in court on May 4, 2023.
It was the same court and judge that discharged him in December 2022 because it lacked jurisdiction over the charges proffered against him. The charge was the “publication of false news” contrary to section 208 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
However, minutes after he walked out of the courtroom, the police arrested him and granted him a police enquiry bail.
His lawyer said the court’s decision to remand Noah had beaten his imagination. Therefore, other avenues were explored which made it possible for him to reappear before the court on April 6, 2023, instead of April 13, 2023.
“We filed a motion to abridge the time so we could actually get him a bail, which we did,” one of his lawyers, Baffour Gyawu Bonsu Ashia, told The Fourth Estate after Noah Dameh’s release.
The Head of Programmes at Radio Ada, Gideon Amanor Dzeagu, was of the view that the prosecution of Noah was a calculated attempt to deter the media house from critical journalism.
“Noah’s detention is a mere intimidation tactic employed to frustrate community journalists, especially in Ada, after cajoling and application of force to silence staff of Radio Ada on the Songor reports failed.
“However, his release from police custody is a relief and a sign of victory ahead,” he said.
Noah’s current case was revived after the police failed to notify him of their latest case against him. His 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.
MFWA petitions A-G
Unhappy by the turn of events, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on April 6, 2023, petitioned the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, to intervene to end the “persecution” of the journalist.
“The MFWA is intrigued by the evolution of this case from a defamation complaint, which should have been a civil matter, to criminal prosecution for alleged false publication. We are also intrigued by the police’s apparent lack of interest in pursuing those who allegedly perpetrated the gross human rights violation of chaining a patient to a hospital bed, as opposed to the cast-iron determination to prosecute the whistleblower.
“In view of this, we call on the Attorney-General to intervene to ensure that the journalist is not made a scapegoat and that justice is served for all persons involved in this matter,” the petition said.
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.
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