The Member of Parliament for Bimbila South, Dominic Nitiwul, has advised the management of Osu Children’s Home that it is not in their interest to debate journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas over the video he released exposing abuses in the Home.
Anas released a video last month exposing the abuses children suffer in the Home. But authorities responsible for the Home, including the Minister for Social Welfare E.T. Mensah, questioned the ace investigative reporter’s motives, attacking his integrity and accusing him of denting the image of the Home and the country at large.
The Deputy Director of Social Welfare Department Daniel Opare Adjei, who spoke on Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana, claimed that some portions of Anas’ video were stage-managed and that he lured the children with gifts and monies to act.
He also cast doubts on the duration within which Anas claims to have filmed the video – Anas said he gathered his information over a 7-month period – but Mr Adjei says the portion that revealed a caregiver caning some children in class was an incident that happened two years ago and that the caregiver had been punished [she was transferred to the Shelter for Abused Children].
In the Deputy Director’s view, Anas should rather have focused on the positive things going on in the Home, coupled with the numerous constraints that caregivers have had to contend with in order to take care of the kids – resources in terms of finance, infrastructure as well as staff.
He said the Social Welfare expected Anas to have drawn their attention on the abuses instead of putting it in the public domain; a situation he claims has caused lots of damage to the interest of the children because donations have since the release of the video reduced drastically.
Mr Opare Adjei said although the public inquiry to investigate the issue is going to throw the institution into bad light, he is happy for its institution because in the long term, the government would put some urgency in providing the department with resources to facilitate its work.
However, the investigative journalist disputed the allegations, asking the programme hostess “Shamima [Muslim], how can you stage-manage a mother’s hunt to beat a child? If I could do that then I must be a superman …this is ridiculous.”
He added that the issue is a national one and the best way to tackle it is to unite and find an amicable solution to it and to ensure a secured future for the children.
Anas asked whether the Social Welfare Official understands the process of investigation, saying that being in the Home for 7 months also meant he gathered materials that are relevant to the investigation.
“If somebody is caught beating up a kid, you don’t reward her by transferring her to another place where she gets the opportunity to beat more kids …I don’t get it…you say I have paid kids, which kids did I pay? They should bring the kids out,” irritated Anas demanded.
He added; “I think it is embarrassing to the Social Welfare, what is clear about me and them is that I have been to the Children’s Home to work but they were sitting in their offices… They should face this squarely and stop doing this, it doesn’t take us anywhere.”
Contributing to the discussion, Mr Nitiwul advised the Social Welfare to accept their mistake because it is clear Anas did his job and that if donations have reduced, it does not in anyway “make the journalist’s story wrong.”
“The earlier they kept quiet about it the better for the image of those working [there],” Mr Nitiwul said.
He called on the government to take serious measures to correct the issue because people’s attitudes towards the Home will largely depend on the outcome of this case.
Dr Hanna Louisa Bisiw, a Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, on her part added that as a mother she would never favour the happenings in the Osu Children’s Home since she views the responsibility of caring for orphans as a unique privilege ordered by God in the Bible.
She urged the caregivers not to belittle that privilege.