Feature Article of Friday, 21 April 2017
Columnist: Adam Reese
My name is Adam Reese, I am an American journalist with experience working in Ghana, where I covered the 2012 elections as part of the news team at Myjoyonline. I have long considered Ghana a second home, and it is because of my love for your dear country that I’m so distressed by some news I received recently.
A close friend and former colleague of mine named Sarah was violently assaulted on 1st April in her hometown of Agona Swedru by a neighbor named Maxwell, a.k.a. Nocturnal Max, who beat her without provocation and undressed her, then continued attacking her until bystanders intervened and stopped him.
She went to file a report with the police, who asked her to return after visiting the hospital. As she was out running these errands, the suspect was loitering around her place of business, ostensibly looking for her, and the following morning he entered her home to attack her a second time. After this assault, she filed another report with the police, who called the suspect to turn himself in. He did not. Rather than proactively apprehend him, they called him again that Monday with the same request. Again he failed to comply.
The following day, Maxwell appeared at Sarah's place of business accompanied by a police officer who pleaded on his behalf that Sarah should simply forget about the attacks and move on with her life. This police officer was advocating for a suspect who he was supposed to arrest on sight.
Later that day, a pastor contacted Sarah to arrange a meeting between herself and the suspect, which he intended to mediate. She accepted the offer because the police had earlier told her that if she could inform them of Maxwell’s whereabouts, they would arrest him. But when she called them to report the time and location of the meeting, they told her to that they would not send officers there. Instead, they asked her to persuade the pastor to bring him to the police station, which of course the pastor would not do; he had intervened expressly in order to find a solution that did not involve the police.
Two days after that, Sarah again went to the police to check on their progress. They told her that she should monitor the suspect's movements and alert them when she laid eyes on him so that they could arrest him. Not only were these officers neglecting their duties by asking a citizen to do their job for them, they actually encouraged Sarah to put herself in harm's way by instructing her to stay in close proximity to her assailant.
When, on the advice of a lawyer, she requested that the case be moved from the District Headquarters to the Divisional Headquarters, the officer to whom she was directed at Divisional HQ lost his temper and insisted that the case wouldn't be handled any differently there. Though this officer claims not to know Maxwell, Sarah knows for a fact that Maxwell and the officer share mutual friends. Finally convinced that the police had no intention of resolving the case, she moved temporarily from Agona Swedru to Accra out of fear for her physical safety.
It must be said that the Ghana police have seemingly sided with a predator over a self-made woman whose career was just beginning to blossom as she created jobs in the community where she grew up.
This case is a deeply alarming example of the way in which Ghanaian police can fail to take sexual crimes and crimes against women seriously.
I thank you for your time and I sincerely hope that you communicate to your colleagues in Agona Swedru how very interested the public is in seeing justice served in this matter.