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General News of Monday, 25 March 2019


Abduction of Lebanese man in Ghana sparking international protests – Minority

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is MP for North Tongu Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is MP for North Tongu

The Minority in Ghana's Parliament has condemned the Akufo-Addo administration over the manner in which the abduction of a 39-year-old Lebanese businessman in Ghana, has been handled.

The opposition MPs, in a statement, demanded that the government act in an accountable manner as is expected of democratic states by breaking its “unhelpful silence” over the abduction and disappearance of Mahran Mustapha Baajour.

The statement, signed by North Tongu MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said: “Mahran Mustapha Baajour, 39, is a Lebanese businessman of Palestinian origin, who arrived in Ghana from Lebanon on a business visit on the 13th of December 2018 and has since not been seen in public.

“The Minority is reliably informed that immediately after arriving at the Kotoka International Airport on the 13th of December 2018, Mahran Mustapha Baajour and his two Ghanaian hosts who welcomed him at the airport, were arrested at the precincts of the airport just when they were about departing in their Toyota saloon vehicle with registration number GN 6126 – 15, by persons claiming to be operatives of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

“After all three were kept in detention for six days in violation of Ghanaian law, our understanding is that Mahran's two hosts, one Razak Abdul and another, were then released as free men while Mahran was kept in detention. This is the reason Mahran's family and officials from his country are having a hard time believing denials and claims of innocence by Ghanaian government officials they have contacted.”

It added: “This despicable human rights violation is stirring considerable unease in diplomatic circles, with Ghana's image as a stable democratic state which upholds human rights and respects the rule of law, clearly on the line.

“Mahran Mustapha Baajour's three-month-old abduction has already led to major protests in Beirut, Lebanon where petitions have been presented to that nation's President and the Speaker of their Parliament.

“Our monitoring of international media, including Al-Jazeera, which has already broadcast two stories on this matter, confirms that another petition demanding the release of Mahran addressed to the Ghanaian government has been presented to our Consular Officer in Lebanon where another protest was staged with protesters carrying banners which read: ‘Mahran is in your prisons’”.

“The Minority, which continues to follow this matter with keen interest, has come into further information pointing to an escalation of protests by Lebanese nationals and human rights activists across the world against the Ghanaian government. Indeed, protests have been scheduled to take place at Ghana's embassy in Washington, D.C. in the United States of America later this week. Undoubtedly, this worrying development does not bode well for Ghana's image in the comity of nations. We must also be conscious of the implications of this whole abduction affair, especially on our peacekeeping troops in Lebanon if the matter in issue continues to be handled so abysmally.

“Despite the Minority's numerous behind-the-scenes interventions urging the government to publicly state its claimed innocence and be seen to be manifestly working to resolve the mystery; the continuous silence of the Akufo-Addo-led government for more than three months, even in the face of several local and international press reports as matters degenerate and as anxiety rises to fever pitch [levels], is most reckless and unacceptable, to say the least.

“This uninspiring conduct by the current government is, unfortunately, fueling several suspicions in various quarters even as our international image continues to take a nosedive in recent times following the unresolved assassination of undercover journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale and the disgraceful bloody Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, both of which attracted wide international condemnation.

“The Minority, therefore, demands that the Akufo-Addo administration, which is in charge of the territorial security of Ghana, and which is being held responsible by the growing number of protesters, takes urgent steps to assure the family of Mahran Mustapha Baajour – who we note sadly lost his mum last week, the people of Lebanon and the entire international community – that Ghana will not slide into a state of lawlessness or will we become a haven for human rights abuses perpetrated by faceless persons acting in the name of the state.”