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National security officials raid movie distribution company, seize copies of film

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 28 May 2011, a contingent of armed National Security officials raided the offices of Nyankonton Films, an Accra-based movie distribution company, and seized video compact discs (VCD) of a new Ghanaian movie entitled: "Atta Mortuary Man", which was scheduled to be released on 30 May.

The combined team of plain-clothes security officers and policemen took away about 13,000 VCDs and accompanying publicity materials. Two film officials, Augustine Abbey, president of Film Marketers and Producers, and George Walker, a film marketer, were invited to the national security offices. They were released after three hours, without charge.

The privately-owned "Daily Guide" newspaper reported that the national security officials suspected the movie had political connotations aiming to discredit Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills and leader of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

"Atta Mortuary Man" became a household name after ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, who has a penchant for insulting his political opponents and describing them in very derogatory terms, made an allusion to one "Atta", a mortuary attendant, whom he said was his (the ex-president)'s friend in a speech to NDC party delegates in February 2010. Many Ghanaians believed the allusion was a mockery of the sitting President, leader of Rawlings' party who has been in his bad books for some time now.

In July, the NDC will go to congress to elect a candidate for Ghana's 2012 general election in which President Mills and two stalwarts of the party, including the wife of ex-President Rawlings, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, will also run.

However, Eric Asante, the producer of the movie, has denied that the movie has something to do with politics.

According to him, the movie was about a wealthy young man named "Atta" who lived a reckless lifestyle and ended up taking a job at the mortuary. Asante wondered why other movies with perceived political connotations were selling on the market.

A meeting was scheduled between national security and the film producers on 30 May to discuss the matter.

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