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Opinions of Friday, 9 July 2010

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Anas Aremeyaw Anas Vrs the Constitutional Bandits: Who Wins?

One group of people ladies of today, especially those who have the aim of rising high in society, have to be extremely careful about is these carefree young men of today. They are neither tigers nor vipers to be feared, but they can make and unmake young ladies when they meet in groups. Their line of conversation can cause you the greatest embarrassment in life.

“Charlie, dis shoddy dey bi oo!,” one would start.

“She dey bii but she be yawa girl,” another would reply.

“Why she be yawa? You go fit con um?” would come the question.

“Ah! Who be she? Shoddy wey I chop before wey you dey talk say I go fit con um?” he would protest.

“You sure?”
“She dey bii kwa, you koraa you if you make wild (or “wide” depending on his ethnicity) you too fit chop um some.”
“Den I for look sharp!”
I used to think this type of senseless talk from uncultured tongues in ill-bred mouths was limited to the youth until I heard some “very respectable” men explicitly discussing such issues with Nana Boroo’s kind of “vim” and immeasurable gusto. The question I usually ask is: do ladies also do same when they meet? I threw this question to my audience in 2004. Who were these audience?
They were my fellow male SSSCE candidates in Krachi Senior High School. We had returned from studies in the heart of the night, when the juniors were snoring, in House Three Dorm One. After soaking our raw gari and forcing the gritty substance down our throats, the infamous topic came up after a little discussion on the impending “Dooms Day.” The “real men” amongst us started recounting the number of girls they had “floored” (For, some did it on the bare floor) since coming to Krasec. Some even went ahead to describe how it happened. Then I asked whether the girls also had the courage to talk about what “they” were talking about. It was one of us who offered to answer. His nickname was College Master.
“They (girls) are not like us,” College Master began. “Some can be very secretive. I was once told that girls would not admit having an affair with a guy even if it actually happened.”
He told us he had experimented that assertion and it was true. How did he do it? He said he was once eating a certain girl and told her, “I’m eating you oo!” (Please, I’m speaking Twi).
“You’re eating who?” the girl denied. That night, we had a good laugh but some of us wondered how true that could be.
However, I have now come to really appreciate how some people – politicians, security forces, civil servants, pastors and “pastors” – can lie when they know full well that what they are saying would not be accepted by an unintelligent toddler. And the hapless victims who are usually made to look foolish when such public officials lie are journalists.
If you’re not in the good books of your editor, or better still if you are not in the same political party with him/her, you’ll be made to look like a congenital liar when the “big men” call the newsroom and begin to speak their “big English.”
The good news, however, is that because some hunters have learnt to shoot without missing, some birds have also learn the art of flying without perching. And so some journalists have found a potent antidote to quell the lying machinery of state officials. One of such journalists is Anas Aremeyaw Anas of The New Crusading Guide newspaper.
The exploits of that dare-devil of a journalist are well-documented and in order to avoid a monotonous piece, I want to restrict myself to the outcome of Anas’ last investigative work that implicated some members of the security agencies who were abetting the very crime they were paid to prevent. I sometimes wonder if it was not time every Ghanaian who can afford an AK 47 rifle got one for self-protection. If game keepers suddenly become poachers, then what option is left to the animals? Self-defence!
But that is not my headache now. My headache is how the security officers caught in the infamous act are suddenly gaining their freedom. Did the judge say he had no evidence to prosecute them? Speaking on a local radio station, Anas Aremeyaw Anas said he had given enough evidence to the police to aid prosecution. And it is interesting to note that what we saw on the screens was just a tip of the iceberg.
I therefore didn’t only feel sad but also embarrassed when the head of the Ghana Police Service’s public affairs department, DSP Kwesi Ofori, spoke on Joy FM’s morning show to the effect that they were conducting further investigations into the matter. For Odomankoma’s sake, what evidence would be more authentic and implicating than seeing the culprits on the screen doing “their constitutional mandate?” If you met a man on top of your wife, what more evidence would you need to deal with him? And why had those pieces of evidence not been tended while” further investigations and digging” into the case continued? Or why was the judge not adequately informed about the arrangements being carried out by the police? What will be the future of investigative journalism in Ghana if such cases are declared “foolish cases” as we say here?
It’s interesting the Attorney General’s Department has directed that the officers be re-arrested. But re-arresting them and going through the same “go-and-come” judicial process of ours is just another way of saying the state is pleased with the behaviours of these unscrupulous officials whose activities rob the nation of millions of Kufuor’s dollars. For it is said that he who does not punish evil commands more of it to be done.
I’m also saddened the Ghana Journalists’ Association is very quiet on the matter. There can never be any better journalistic output than what is aimed at the progress of the nation, exposing the rot that has plagued our nation since Nkrumah’s days of honest and purposeful nation building. Allowing culprits exposed by investigative journalism to go and gleefully sip alvaro with their senior high school girlfriends undermines investigative journalism. This is what the GJA should know and add its voice to the current situation. After all, what will be the essence of catching a thief and taking him to the police station if he will be allowed to walk in freedom.
Journalism is risky but investigative jouranlism is even riskier. According to Reporters Without Borders, an international organisation working to ensure the freedom and safety of jouranlists, 18 journalists have been this year killed as of July 8. One media assistant was also killed within the period while 171 journalists were imprisoned. 9 media assistants were also imprisoned while 111 netizens (people who use the internet frequently) were also imprisoned within the same period. In 2009, 76 jouranlists were killed around the world for doing their duty.
On 24 June 2010, Rwandan investigative journalist was trailed and gunned down at night when he was about to enter his house. Jean-Léonard Rugambage, acting editor of the Umuvugizi newspaper, was shot twice in the neck by unknown gunmen. It should be noted that journalists who are at the centre of attack are not those who chase GH¢10 ‘soli’ up to the 11th floor, ignoring the elevators. They would later run back to the PRO’s office with a copy of their ‘newspaper’ thucked under their sweaty armpits shouting, “See your story! The editor didn’t want it to go but I had to press him to publish it.“ Such journalists are only mocked but not harmed, so long as the disdainful treatment from a PRO will not deprived them of their daily bread.
These are not the journalists the corrupt police officers fear. They are not the kind of journalists the politicians hear and shudder. They certainly are not the kind of journalists our CEPS and other public officials whose stock in trade is using foul means of achieve “greatness.” But there is media freedom in Ghana? You might ask.
Though Reporters Without Borders has ranked Ghana as the Freest country in Africa in terms of media freedom, those CEPS, police and national security officials in the video will not invite Anas Aremeyaw to sip coke (coke, as it denotes not as it connotes in Ghana). People whose nefarious activities are exposed will not sit side-by-side in the National Theatre with Anas to watch any of Efo Kojo Mawugbe’s literary thrillers. No!

If they get him at a “safe” environment while trying to expose them, they may tell him one thing: “Dead men don’t do investigative journalism.”

Anas’ is deep into a dangerous trade and the first time I met him, I lost appetite in investigative journalism. I’m sure he was about to go undercover and if such a “filthy” job will finally expose an equally filthy transaction and the culprits are asked to walk free, then what are we telling those who are willing to enter into serious journalism?

Or are the authorities conspiring to make rank nonsense of Anas’ effort to discourage him? After all with Anas’ around everyone is a potential culprit.

What do you think?

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [www.maxighana.com] Email: azureachebe2@yahoo.com. The writer is a freelance journalist based in Accra. To read more of his writings, visit www.maxighana.com