Officials of the Ethiopian Customs and Revenue on Wednesday held seven Ghanaian Journalists hostage for three hours for what they described as “Lack of permit to carry professional Video Cameras” into their country.
The journalists, who are made up of staff of Ghana News Agency, Ghana Television, TV3 and Crystal Clear Lens Newspaper, were part of Vice President John Dramani Mahama’s team covering the African Union Extraordinary Summit.
Not even an official letter from the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the staff of Ghana Embassy carried to the airport could convince the officials to release the cameras to the news team.
After three hours of talking and exchange of hot and temperate language, there was nothing the team could do. They left the cameras and went to their hotel.
An official, who refused to give us his name, explained that the letter sent to them about the Ghanaian journalists did not indicate that they would carry video cameras along and there was no way they could allow them to enter the capital with the equipment.
He said it was only the Ministry of Communications that could issue that permit and once they had closed nobody else could do that.
“We do not care if you are covering AU summit or not, we are working under superiors and we must obey the rules as well.”
“Even if you bring your Ambassador, we cannot release the cameras to him so do the right thing before we allow you to use the cameras,” the official said.
The journalists, who could not longer hide their anger and disappointment, left and called on the African Union to resolve some of these challenges which were likely to impede the progress of the AU.
“If we claim we are all part of the AU, how can Ethiopia treat its African brothers and sisters this way? We have covered events in several African and non-African countries and this has never happened,” one of the journalists said in frustration.