Okay, this is where as an artist (African or non-African), you’ve got to have tact and class the way you address the public and also handle issues. A little over a week ago, I reported a story about Ghana’s young rising star Tiffany Hayden whose nude photos leaked on the internet. I focused on crisis management in that post based on her assertions that the photos were stolen from her cell phone which was left in her home.
Recently, Hayden twitted to inform her fans and the public at large that Ghanaian police arrested three (3) suspects that allegedly stole her phone. While any reasonable person/artist should wait or know to wait, especially where legal issues are concerned, until the outcome of investigations before commenting on the substance of a case, Hayden immediately took to twitter and blamed three Nigerian men who were the alleged suspects arrested.
First, it was unnecessary to state the nationalities/ethinicities of the persons who were arrested. Afterall, they are innocent until proven guilty even under Ghana’s criminal laws. Further, as an artist building influence and one that should have knowledge of the historical tensions between Ghana and Nigeria, Hayden could have been a bit more cautious here.
Second, Hayden is the only one reporting of an arrest of the suspects. There have been no investigative journalism work confirming or denying the story; much less giving as an objective who, what, when, why. Accordingly, it would have been more professional and as part of her brand image, prudent, if she handled it through her PR team.
Now let’s get into two views. That of the suspects being arrested and the other view is back to Hayden and basic PR and brand building 101.
What Law Governs
Ghana’s Criminal Procedure Code 1960
When can the Police in Ghana Arrest You?
Section 10 of the Code states:
POLICE ARREST WITH A WARRANT
1) A police officer may arrest without warrant any person who—
(a) commits an offence in his presence;
(b) obstructs a police officer in the execution of his duty;
(c) has escaped or attempts to escape from lawful custody;
(d) has in his possession any implement adapted or intended for use in unlawfully entering any and who gives no reasonable excuse for his possession of it; or
(e) has in his possession anything which may reasonably be suspected to be stolen property.
POLICE ARREST WITHOUT A WARRANT
(2) A police officer may arrest without warrant any person he suspects upon reasonable grounds—
(a) of having committed an offence;
(b) of being about to commit an offence, where there is no other practicable way of preventing commission of the offence;
c) of being about to commit an offence, where he finds such person in any highway, yard, building place during the night;
(d) of being a person for whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by a court;
(e) of being a deserter from the Armed Forces; or
(f) of having been concerned in any act committed outside Ghana which, if committed in Ghana, have been punishable as an offence, and for which he is, under any enactment, liable to be arrested detained in Ghana.
“The reasonable grounds” language almost mirrors the “reasonable suspicion” language used in US Criminal jurisprudence.
Further, in Ghana, if you are arrested without a warrant, the police is only allowed to keep you for 48hours before bringing you before a magistrate/Judge for an arraignment. Contrast this with Nigeria’s criminal procedural act that only requires 24hours turn-around time to get you before a judge for an arraignment. Remember the Baba Suwe case? Ghana’s 48hours is however consistent with what is done here in California.
Ghanaian Criminal Procedure Act also permits a criminal defendant to post bail. I will stop here because the tweet by Hayden only reports alleged arrest of the three Nigerian men that allegedly stole her phone. So, we need only focus on the arrest till future facts present more legal issues to discuss.
Whether you are in Ghana, Nigeria or USA, when you are arrested for committing a crime, get a lawyer ASAP! It is no joking matter.
TIFFANY HAYDEN PERSPECTIVE & PR 101
The 21st century presents very tough challenges for the music industry and society at large. For Africa, our artists are particularly vulnerable to the the issues that a digital age brings. Our artists lack the sophistication and know how etc. to really protect and brand their image. The concept of public relations/media, even if African artists lived overseas before returning home to try their luck in their respective countries, is still very foreign. Also, many now believe PR is sending a press release to blogs/ Editors announcing their new songs, a few appearances on radio and television shows for interviews and there you have it. Many don’t even see the point of publicists and most publicists have no idea what they are doing.
To that end, there has got to be a lot of training of African artists in all of our creative fields on what PR is really about.
Further, artists, you need to tune into the fact that you are a celebrity or on your way there. Therefore, if you own a cell phone, common sense should tell you that even if the phone is in your home, phones get misplaced or stolen all the time.Therefore, it is not very prudent to take nude photos of yourself on your cell phone, even if the phone is in your home, especially in certain parts of Africa.Use your common sense.
Finally, a publicist I have worked with in the capacity of Ladybrille Magazine to feature one of her clients, is Sasha Bookner. She recently did an interview with Pharell Williams’ K!dult and what she shared needs to be smacked into the heads of a lot of our artists. So check out an excerpt and read on:
“One of the less pleasant aspects of PR is handling damage control. What are the first steps that happen behind the scenes when it comes to tackling a problem?
It depends on the issue. You have to be careful—sometimes “no comment” says more than you want. When there are legal ramifications you have to choose your words cautiously. When an issue is out in the open, confirmed, and there is little room for doubt (i.e., an artist slapped a photographer and it was caught on videotape) then trying to deny it is not the most preeminent strategy because media just won’t trust you in the future. Sometimes if a client lays low for a few weeks it blows over. Time off can be better than ongoing apologies. . . ” – K!dult has the rest of Sasha Bookner’s interview.