Benya FM
Three men allegedly attacked two journalists from Ghanaian broadcaster Benya FM, program host Eric Blessing Eshun and producer Emmanuel Egyirfah, and destroyed equipment on May 16. (Photo: Usman Kwaku Dawood)

Two Ghanaian journalists attacked at Benya FM, one left unconscious

On May 16, 2022, at around 7:30 p.m., three men forced their way into privately owned Ghanaianbroadcaster Benya FM in the town of Elminaon the southern Takoradi highway, attacked two of the station’s staff — program host Eric Blessing Eshun and producer Emmanuel Egyirfah— and destroyed equipment, according a report by the privately owned news website MyJoyOnline and the two journalists, who spoke to CPJ by phone.

Benya FM was unable to broadcast for four days as a result of the damage, according to Benya FM’s program manager Usman Kwaku Dawood, who also spoke to CPJ by phone.

On May 20, Ghanaian police charged the three alleged attackers with assault, unlawful entry, conspiracy to commit a crime, stealing, and causing unlawful damage, according to a report by the privately owned news website The Ghanaian Standard and Abraham Bansah, commander of the Elmina police prosecuting the case, who spoke to CPJ over the phone.

During a court hearing that day, the three men pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to The Ghanaian Standard report and Dawood, who attended the hearing. The case is expected back in court on June 28, Dawood said.

Eshun, who is also known as Osofo Blessing, and Egyirfah,who is also known as Nana Gyefo, told CPJ that they were familiar with the attackers and identified them as supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). Dawood told CPJ that apparent NPP members attended the hearing in support of the three men.

The attack took place as Eshun was discussing the politics of local fishing during a program called “Afarikua,” which aired at 7 p.m. That night’s segment focused on the perceived irregularities in the distribution of premix fuel, a government-subsidized petroleum product managed under Ghana’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, according to the ministry’s website, The Ghanaian Standard report, as well as Eshun and Dawood.

One of the three alleged attackers was described in court as an attendant at a premix fuel station, according to Egyirfah and The Ghanaian Standard report.

Egyirfah told CPJ that the three men arrived at the station by motorbike and began calling for Eshun by one of his on-air pseudonyms before entering the building. Suspecting the attackers were there for trouble, Egyirfah attempted to lock the entrance to the station before they could reach it, he said. But the attackers forcefully pushed back the door, and twisted his left arm, then started destroying equipment as they searched for Eshun, according to Egyirfah.

Once the attackers found the studio, they pulled Eshun from his seat, stomped on his back, sides, and stomach, and dragged him out of the room, the journalists told CPJ, adding that the attacks only stopped when Eshun became unconscious.

Eshun said his Android phone, which was in his pocket, was smashed during the attack, breaking the screen. The attackers also destroyed a studio mixer, two headphones, fivemonitors, six computers, three keyboards, three tables, two chairs, and a video graphic adaptor cable, according to the journalists and The Ghanian Standard report.

When Eshun regained consciousness later that day, he reported the attack to the divisional police station, he said. He was given a permit to receive free medication at a local hospital while the police opened an investigation into the incident, according to Eshun.

CPJ emailed questions on May 30 to the Ghana Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development through the contact information on its website, but has not received a response.

CPJ’s calls and text messages on May 31 to NPP General Secretary, John Boadu, went unanswered.