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General News Sat, 20 Jul 2013

Journalist sacrificed for security lapses

A Ghanaian journalist who visited the Accra International Conference Centre, venue for the 6th Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA) on Tuesday was arrested and detained overnight at the Ministries Police Station.

Malik Minneax Ereira of TGIB Productions, a multimedia organization was suspected of stealing mobile phones and laptop computers from delegates at the conference, and was subsequently handed over to the security officials by personnel from FARA.

The journalist who had reported at the conference centre around mid-day had to wait at the registration desk for the media liaison for the program, one Ivy to be sought for by this reporter who incidentally also knew him (the Mr Ereira) to alert her that someone wanted to register to cover the conference.

When this reporter went back to the conference centre on Wednesday morning he was informed by the said media liaison (Ivy) that Mr. Ereira had been arrested the previous day on suspicion of having stolen the items.

The head of the National security operatives (names withheld) who made the arrest then confirmed that the guy had been handed over to the Ministries Police for investigation.

“There was a case of theft between 10 am and 11 am, and when the guy was searched a pair of pliers and a cutter were found in his bag, so he was suspected of being the thief who had stolen the items” the Security chief informed this reporter.

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It should be noted that when this reporter arrived at the conference centre around 10. 00 am, he was informed by a Metro TV video cameraman about the theft, with the picture of a gentleman who was the main suspect.

This reporter was even asked to alert the authorities if he saw the said gentleman in the picture shown to him, and so it baffles one’s imagination how someone who arrives at the conference centre, hours later could be arrested for the crime committed when he was nowhere near the place.

The said FARA Media liaison, (Ivy) alleged that the guy was arrested because of his looks, and this was corroborated by the police at the Ministries Police Station. “He looked different.”

Meanwhile, the operator of the Scanner at the entrance of the conference centre had argued that he scanned the journalist before he entered the conference hall.

If this was so, then it raises the argument as to why the scanner did not detect the two working tools which the security operatives want to refer to as weapons.

This is not the first time delegates to conferences at the Accra International Conference Centre were suffering from such alleged cases of theft.

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During a recent Mining forum, a lady working at an exhibition stand got her tablet stolen by two tricksters who visited her stand.

“I suspect there is someone who knows a lot about the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) involved because anytime such a thing happens and the CCTV is checked the camera is only able to show the back of the fellow walking away from the crime scene,” a source at the conference centre told this reporter.

At the time of filing this report, Peter Serinye, National Coordinator of the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) a network Mr. Ereira belongs to, was assisting relatives of the victim to secure bail for him.

“This is a gentleman I have known for several year now, and he is a well known figure in the WASH) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector. He is not a thief,” Mr. Serinye emphasized, adding that the basis upon which the guy was arrested was so absurd, wondering whether anybody needs a pair of pliers and a cutter to steal mobile phones and laptop computers.

Source: The Independent Newspaper