The Deputy Station Coordinator of Radio Ada, Noah Narh Dameh, who was on trial for allegedly publishing false news about businessman Daniel McKorley (McDan), is dead.
The 49-year-old passed away at home.
The cause of his death is yet to be known, but according to close family sources, he had been struggling with poor health ever since he was released from police custody in December last year.
He left behind three children and two grandchildren.
A community activist, for decades, he had used his influence at the country’s premier community radio, Radio Ada, to champion the cause of the coastal area well known for its commercial salt production.
He dedicated his career, among other things, to rallying the community to its civic rights and responsibilities through delivering news, stories, and insights to the Dangme people and beyond.
Mr Dameh’s work extended beyond the studio. He led many community engagements.
However, Mr Dameh’s health began to deteriorate following series of events triggered by his relentless reporting on the controversial lease of the Songhor Lagoon to a single investor. In the pursuit of justice, the journalist had deplored grave human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, detentions, prosecutions, and brutalities against some Ada residents in connection with the lease.
The breaking point came when Mr Dameh posted on his Facebook wall the picture of an Ada indigene in police custody who had been handcuffed to a hospital bed. In the accompanying text, the journalist claimed that the young man was being abused by the police at the alleged instance of Mr McKorley, Chief Executive Officer of Electrochem Ghana Limited, the company awarded a salt mining lease at Ada.
In response, Electrochem Ghana Limited, a salt-producing company, holding the lease agreement, filed a lawsuit against him, alleging defamation against their Chief Executive Officer, Mr McKorley, known as MacDan.
The lawsuit, which only served to highlight the importance of Mr Dameh’s work, thrust him into the national spotlight as he continued to fight for the marginalised and oppressed.
In December 2022, he was discharged by the Tema Magistrate Court as the court said it lacked jurisdiction over the case.
But the unexpected happened. He was re-arrested by the police and remanded for seven days.
He was later granted police enquiry bail of GH₵ 60,000.00 and was appearing in court with his lawyer.
On July 3, 2023, when his lawyer missed court, the presiding judge accused Mr Dameh of impersonating himself, threatening to issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
The judge said she could not recognise Mr Dameh. He had grown lean due to ill health. Eventually, the police investigator on the case identified him as the accused.
He didn’t recover from the ill health.
In confirming his demise to The Fourth Estate, the management of Radio Ada described him as a true patriot and a beacon of journalistic integrity.
“Noah was a warrior, defender, and survivor and fought not for himself but for people around him to have a smile and he was ever ready to do that with the last blood in him even if it would cause his life like now. I remember he couldn’t speak but he forced and managed to produce a programme when I was away and couldn’t do it. He forced his way to produce the programme.
“Anyone who listened to that programme could feel that the man is not well. But with his passion to fight for people’s rights and livelihood even on his sick bed, he was able to produce a magazine programme to speak for the marginalised in society,” Programme Producer at Radio Ada, Gideon Amanor Dzeagu, said amidst tears.
He asserted that Mr Dameh’s determination would continue to steer the station to seek justice for the betterment of society. He also called on the Ghanaian media to mirror what he stood for—a journalism practice that benefits the voiceless.
“As we mourn the loss of this tireless advocate for truth and justice, let us also remember the importance of fearless journalism in our society. Noah Dameh’s memory will forever inspire us to stand up for what is right, to speak out against injustice, and to ensure that his work was not in vain.
“In his honour, we must continue the fight for a more just and equitable Ghana, where the voices of the marginalised are heard, and their rights are protected,” Mr Dzeagu added.
Some ardent listeners of Radio Ada told The Fourth Estate that his legacy would endure as a beacon of hope and a reminder of the power of journalism to effect positive change.
“Etse Noah was indeed a journalist, he spoke for the weak and the marginalised. His legacy lives on. Noah Dameh may have left us, but his spirit lives on in the pursuit of truth, justice, and a better future for all Ghanaians.
“His passing is a profound loss not only to the Dangme people and the journalism community but to all of Ghana,” a resident of Ada, Mrs Evelyn Akweley, said in her eulogy of Mr Dameh.
Mr Dameh’s 25-year illustrious career in solution journalism began with Radio Ada, where he tirelessly reported from the Eastern Region, a role he held since the station’s inception.
Over the years, he went through the mill and became the Deputy Station Coordinator of Radio Ada, where his commitment to journalism and community engagement showed.
In the pursuit of truth and justice, he called on social activists to rally to the aid of the Ada residents who were facing grave human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, detentions, prosecutions, and brutalities without recourse to justice.
He was to appear before the court on September 25, 2023, for the trial of the case since Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) had failed.
During the ADR session on Friday, September 14, 2023, the plaintiff, Bernard Korley, who initially sued Mr Dameh for Electrochem Ghana Limited, told him to apologise and publish the same in newspapers across the country that he defamed Mr McDan.
“He said I should do that because McDan is a big man and a chief. So, I told him I don’t know McDan as a chief and also, I didn’t publish anything about him in newspapers. I told him if it is about the post I made on Facebook, I will pull it down after everything,” he updated The Fourth Estate on the ADR session.
His dedication to truth and justice was unwavering, even in the face of adversity.
He was the target of an attack when the station was raided on January 13, 2022, after it had done a series of shows on issues around salt production in the area.
On that day, about a dozen men assaulted two Radio Ada journalists, held two of its clients hostage, vandalised equipment and warned the station to stop airing the Manor Munyu programme, a local show that discusses the state of the salt mining industry at Ada.
Mr Dameh was the lead producer of the programme.
The Fourth Estate learnt that when the thugs invaded the station, and pulled out weapons including a pistol and a bottle, they first asked “Where is Noah Dameh?”
A year and a half later, Mr Dameh was worried about the laxity of the police in pursuing the case.
“Based on the intelligence they had [police], they were aware of the attack on the radio station but failed to act. They arrested the key suspect [name withheld] and released him the same day, failing to send him to court after they came to my workplace with guns and handcuffs looking for me to be killed but they did nothing.
“Yet, they are prosecuting me after they were told that I asked questions on Facebook about Daniel McKorley so that I can be put into prison(sic). If you arrest a key suspect, won’t you question him about the other people he went to do the operation with or the people he organised it with?” he said.
Meanwhile, Radio Ada says it will soon announce plans for a special tribute broadcast to honour Mr Dameh’s memory, allowing his listeners to join together in remembering the legacy he left behind.