According to Ghanian reports, a movie crew of 11 were arrested at dawn yesterday, July 23, for allegedly causing fear and panic during the shooting of a television series on the Spintex Road in Accra. The crew comprising of five women and six men, including popular Nigerian actor, Hanks Anuku, were said to have fired gunshots indiscriminately at about 3 a.m. Other members of the crew were George Adu Badoo, Joseph Heisk, Ivy Bentum, Adjetey Roberts, Eluheaka Mensah, Arhin Wakila, Mary Acheampong, Emmanuel Anumaka, Charles Roger Beckly and Sherrif Sandy Brown.
The parties involved allegedly blocked the road between the Fidelity Bank and Stanchart Bank on the Spintex Road, while a motorcyclist chased a car. Panicky motorists who called the Police Control Room through the emergency numbers, had mistaken the crew for a gang of armed robbers who had blocked the road and were attacking road users. Briefing journalists yesterday, the Accra Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Christian Tetteh Yohuno, said the police control room received a series of phone calls that a gang of armed robbers who had blocked a section of the road were firing and robbing motorists and other road users on the Spintex Road.
He said some residents of the area who suspected it was a robbery attack on the two banks hid under their beds and other places they considered safe in their homes while they called the police for help. He went ahead to say that “Most motorists who were using that stretch of road, upon hearing the loud command of “Stop! Stop! Stop!”, sensed danger and quickly reversed, causing a lot of chaos on the Spintex Road.
The truth only came to light when “A patrol team was quickly dispatched to the scene, only to ascertain that the supposed gang was a crew of a movie production company known as Rabell Entertainment” Mr Yohuno said. He also said that the police found that the crew members were using a shotgun, fire crackers, two rubber-made pistols and toy machine guns to shoot a movie without any lawful permit. By their act, Mr Yohuno said, they wilfully obstructed public way and hindered the free passage of any other person or, as well as caused fear to members of that community.
According to him, the use of the fire crackers was an offence, as there was a ban on the firing of fire crackers and similar explosives. “More importantly, if care was not taken by the police, there could have been exchange of fire which could have led to the death of many because what the police witnessed on arrival portrayed a robbery operation,” he said.
Although the police were not against film-making because of the enormous role the industry played in society, he said, they would not tolerate acts that were likely to occasion the breach of peace, endanger public defence, and safety or cause public fear and panic. Similarly, he stated that if such activities were not discouraged, any group of persons under the same modus operandi could pretend to be acting a movie but would end up committing robbery. He, therefore, advised movie production companies to seek the necessary police permit, protection and presence whenever their scripts required the staging of violent scenes, especially in public places, to avoid any mishaps or cause fear to the public.
At the Accra Regional Command, three of the women who had been arrested with the crew wept uncontrollably as they tried to explain that they were not criminals. They said they had been recruited to shoot a movie about night life and were not engaged in any criminal act.
Later in an interview, one of the directors of Rabell Entertainment, Billy Jane, admitted that the crew had not obtained permit for staging the violent scene which was part of a three-year television series titled “Late Night Scenes”, which was scheduled to run on a number of television stations in Ghana soon.
She explained that the crew had earlier shot some scenes in a club and were returning home when they decided to stage one of the scenes on the street. She said that the company had always sought the assistance of the police any time it shot a movie which required permit or protection from the law enforcement agencies. “We are sorry. It was an oversight. I am sure it will not happen again,”she said finally.