The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), has denied its staff assaulted Adom FM’s reporter, Ms Afia Pokuaa, alias “Vim Lady”.
In statement issued on Saturday, and copied The Herald, the NHIA revealed that its preliminary findings from the investigation have established that “Vim Lady” was rather engaged in scuffle with a client of the NHIS district office at Ablekuma, who and others were angered by the journalist and two others by their belligerent attitude.
According to the statement from the NHIA’s Corporate Affairs Directorate, in the ensuing scuffle, both “Vim Lady” and the client, who was wearing “African attire”, resulted in “both of them falling into a gutter as they struggled”.
It revealed that “the police were called by the NHIS district manager and they promptly responded in their numbers. The police, then invited the district manager and some of his staff, as well as the three media persons from ADOM FM, to the Odorkor Police Station, where it emerged that Ms. Afia Pokuaa, had sustained bruises from the scuffle”.
Below is the press statement issued by the Corporate Affairs Directorate of NHIA.
On the 11th of September 2014, following allegations of an assault at the NHIS district office at Ablekuma in the Greater Accra region, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) interdicted two of its scheme staff and launched an immediate investigation into the matter.
Preliminary findings from the investigation have established the following:
That around 9am on the 9th of September, 2014 a man was spotted at the Ablekuma district office premises apparently recording interviews with NHIS clients at the Biometric registration point. When he was approached by the district manager, he defiantly refused an invitation to the scheme manager’s office for self-introduction and an explanation of his activities at the district office premises for which he had not sought permission or consent. He finally obliged when clients at the premises prevailed upon him to comply and cooperate with the scheme manager.
He was informed that he was not allowed to do as he pleased at the district office since the clients assembled at the premises were under the care of the manager and his staff.
The man, supposedly a ‘reporter’, retorted that he had the right and authority to interview the clients without any prior permission and added that the premises where the clients were sitting was a public place and he needed not consult anybody. He was however reminded that even if he was a journalist, it was not right for him to just walk into an institution and start recording interviews without seeking permission from those in authority. A staff member, suspecting that the ‘reporter’ was secretly recording the conversation, seized the two phones he was using as recorders, switched them off and asked him to bring those who sent him, for the issue to be resolved amicably so that their phones could be returned to them.
The ‘reporter’ left the office premises and returned around 2 o’clock in the afternoon with two other persons, from Adom fm, one of whom turned out to be Ms Afia Pokuaa to forcibly and belligerently demand the return of the seized phones. This was refused, despite their threatening and intimidating demeanour.
Instead of leaving the premises as advised, they defiantly resumed their recording activities amongst the clients within the premises of the Ablekuma district office.
By now the presence of the three media persons at the premises was becoming a nuisance to the queuing clients. Apparently their activities were disrupting the queuing system. Clients at the head of the queue were enraged because they were being by-passed by others due to the disruption caused by the three media persons. A client, who apparently felt that the media persons were causing confusion and delay, confronted Ms. Afia Pokuaa and demanded that she and her team leave so that clients could get registered. Soon there was commotion as Ms. Afia Pokuaa tussled with the client, resulting in both of them falling into a gutter as they struggled.
The police were called by the NHIS district manager and they promptly responded in their numbers. The police then invited the district manager and some of his staff as well as the three media persons from ADOM FM, to the Odorkor Police Station where it emerged that Ms. Afia Pokuaa had sustained bruises from the scuffle.
It must be categorically stated that:
• At no point were the media persons assaulted by the NHIS district manager or any of his staff.
• The scuffle that resulted in bruising to Ms. Afia Pokuaa occurred between Ms. Afia Pokuaa and a member of the public who had come to the district office for registration.
• In her own statement at the Police Station Ms. Afia Pokuaa described the person she tussled with as wearing an Africanattire, which obviously was not an office wear on a Thursday – the day of the incident. The wearer could therefore not possibly be a member of staff.
• The incident happened in the full glare of numerous witnesses from the public who had turned up for registration.
Investigations are continuing. However the NHIA is putting out these preliminary findings in order to correct the gross distortion of the events that occurred which is gaining currency in the media. The Authority maintains that should any of its staff be found culpable for any acts of violence, appropriate disciplinary action would be taken.
Meanwhile, the Police are investigating the matter.
Issued by the Corporate Affairs Directorate
National Health Insurance Authority