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Sports Features of Friday, 18 January 2019


Alarm Bell? Anas feeling bitter 'Number 12' aftertaste

Ahmed Hussein-Suale was murded by unknown assailants Ahmed Hussein-Suale was murded by unknown assailants

There’s a reason why going undercover isn’t every journalist’s cup of tea. It’s the scariest speciality of a scary profession, a tightrope alluring only to those who boldly regard death as but a means — the ultimate means, needless to say — to an end: the greater good.

For Anas Aremeyaw Anas, undercover journalism — despite its many perils he’s been vulnerable to, like almost getting lynched in Malawi on a recent assignment — is enticing. His hat and face-covering — ever-present and firmly in place whenever he makes public appearances — are usually sufficient in successfully deflecting off danger, but much more is required to maintain safety in privacy.

And never has there been a greater need to do so than in the aftermath of perhaps his most impactful work yet: ‘Number 12’, the hard-hitting exposé on greed and misconduct in Ghanaian football released last year. It’s not more than the tough Anas can chew, no, but he has surely bitten a mouthful that’s apparently not gone down smoothly.

Seven months have passed since ‘Number 12’ dropped and triggered the crisis that the domestic game and the careers of some of Ghana’s most prominent ‘football people’ have been reeling from ever since. Starting this January, a recovery process has hit the ground running, but in the very week it all picked up some momentum, Anas may have been forced to begin taking stock of his own casualties.

As part of the fallout of ‘Number 12’, Anas made fresh ‘enemies’, notably Ghanaian MP and business magnate Kennedy Agyapong. The politician, known for his special brand of vitriol that often borders on aggressiveness, went full blast on Anas and his Tiger Eye PI team, sparking an exchange on media platforms that has ultimately been dragged into the courts.

At his most intense, Agyapong infamously went for the jugular, putting up images of Anas and his professional associates — for whom anonymity is as vital an asset as any sophisticated camera — and inciting violence against one in particular: Ahmed, “the main brain behind the Number 12 investigations,” in the words of Sammy Darko, a lawyer for Tiger Eye.

As fate would have it, that very Ahmed (full name Ahmed Hussein-Suale) was reportedly shot thrice — twice in the chest and once in the neck — on Wednesday night while driving through Madina, a suburb of Ghana’s capital. Not unexpectedly, Ghanaians who woke up to the news the next morning raised a hue and cry, implying foul-play in the young journalist’s death — a chorus Anas seemingly leads.

“Sad news, but we shall not be silenced,” the award-winning reporter stated in a short tweet that mourned his fallen colleague.

Sentiment and suspicion — valid or not — could easily cloud judgment, and that may be happening in this case. Or maybe not; whatever it is, only a thorough investigation by the police can provide clarity, and that process must be trusted. A cold, lifeless, bullet-ridden body may be all that’s available now, but there should be an awful lot to be discovered as the episode unravels.

In the meantime, fault Agyapong all you want for practically making Ahmed a marked man and unwittingly making himself look the part of a guilty man now. Fault him even more for wishing the deceased assaulted or worse. But do no more, as nothing implicates Agyapong — or anyone for that matter — in the crime at this early stage.

Notwithstanding, the theory of an assassination — possibly one not unrelated to ‘Number 12’ — would linger, even if merely whispered. It’s only natural, really, that such suggestions won’t go away until a satisfactory conclusion is arrived at.

While the world awaits such an end, however, Anas may be feeling the heat if, as he and many might be inclined to believe, this is an unwanted by-product of ‘Number 12’. But the unfortunate incident, if nothing at all, raises awareness. For long, the general public’s obsession had centered on Anas and his safety; now, though, the focus is on his support crew, without whom he couldn’t function as effectively as he has over the years.

Whether or not Ahmed’s demise is a price to be paid for shattering Ghanaian — and African — football with the force of ‘Number 12’, times are clearly unsafe.