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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Columnist: Rodney's Potpourri

Murder in Madina, media circus and my next holiday

Ahmed Hussein Suale was a private investigator with Tiger PI Ahmed Hussein Suale was a private investigator with Tiger PI

Growing up partly on a diet of crime thrillers both on television and in books, it never occurred to me that one day, in this country, the idea of gunmen actually turning up in someone's home, office or car, pointing a gun at him or her and actually pulling the trigger would ever take seed.

As far as I was concerned, these kind of killings happened only on the cold, rainy streets of London, New York or Paris, with real life versions of TV Detectives Colombo, Derrick and Sherlock Holmes trying to unravel the mystery and nailing the suspects through clever means.

The June 1982 abduction and subsequent murder of three high court judges and a retired Major (they were shot at point blank and their bodies set alight) certainly shook the nation to its foundations precisely because it was such a rare occurrence. And I certainly remember the grisly ritual murders that gripped the nation in the 1980s.

But there has been a sense that over the past couple of decades or so, killings have been on the rise, almost invariably involving guns.

And these have included ordinary victims of armed robbers and land guards, as well as husbands killing their wives over ridiculous issues.

There has also been a string of high profile ones that have grabbed and hogged the news limelight.

Sadly, almost none of them have been solved, which hardly does any good for public confidence.

As if the cold cases are not enough, we are now having to grapple with the horrific murder last week of Mr Ahmed Hussein Suale, an under cover investigator with Tiger Eye PI, famed for its exposes on various incidents of wrongdoing.

This comes almost on the heels of the horrendous murder of the Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Mrs Josephine Asante.

Naturally, these back-to-back murders create public unease, and it cannot be comforting that less than five per cent of crimes in this country are solved, with 82 per cent 'still being investigated', according to security expert, Dr Kwesi Aning, who made this revelation during a discussion on the PM Express programme on the Joy News channel in February last year.

It was not surprising that Mr Suale's murder attracted the headlines and literally eclipsed Mrs Asante's.

This was for two reasons.

First, the fact that he was working with Anas Aremeyaw Anas' Tiger PI, which has exposed corruption in a number of organisations and has gained international mileage made it easy for many to infer that he must have been killed in relation to the work that he was involved in, given the many enemies that Tiger Eye, and by extension, the journalist, must have made.

Losing focus

Then of course there was the Kennedy Agyapong factor, which enabled many to pin on him responsibility for the journalist's death on account of his revelation on his TV station of his identity.

By this act, it is argued by many that the lawmaker had exposed the investigator to mortal danger and therefore ought to be treated as a suspect.

Of course, once you had a politician being drawn into the matter, you had the perfect stage for a bear fight between the two main political parties over public safety and security, and a whole lot of attendant and in many cases, tangential arguments.

And while the politicians turfed it out, the atmosphere became poisoned and the real issues were lost.

And of course, in this country, like a child in a toy shop, we lose attention and focus very quickly as soon as something else comes up and grabs our collective attention. And then the cycle continues, with half-issues littering the landscape.

In all of this sad state of affairs, I think the media must take some responsibility.

I can understand that in the case of Mr Suale-Hussein, it is very tempting to draw Mr Agyapong in because of the revelations he made last year about Mr Suale-Hussein’s identity and also, well, he is Ken.

But primarily, this is a murder case, which can be a complex issue, and we all hope the police will get to the bottom of this killing as soon as possible because we need to feel confident that crime is punished and the families of the deceased need closure.

But it is not an overnight expedition, particularly with the standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt) that the state must meet in order to secure a conviction in court.

The work is painstaking, and even in more advanced jurisdictions with modern sophisticated facilities, homicide investigations can take a long time and many cold cases exist on the books of police departments.

One would expect that on their programmes, media houses would be speaking to retired CID personnel, criminologists, security experts, gun experts, lawyers and sociologists, among others, to educate and inform the public on how this matter will or should unravel.

Media responsibility

And yet some lazy radio show hosts turn themselves into latter day Jerry Springers, bringing party people on their programmes, lighting the fuse and sitting back to watch the fireworks as the two sides trade accusations over which party presided over what and boasts of whatever achievements.

In this particular murder case, I do not seek to paper over the comments of the MP or to shunt them into the sidings, but I would prefer to be educated by a non-partisan lawyer on what the law says regarding the comments he made, rather than listen to partisan windbags who have no understanding of the law.

Murder is not sensationalism or point-scoring, and I would rather watch the lovely wildlife programmes on TV than be assaulted with asinine comments over serious national issues.

Speaking of television programmes, I was flicking through the channels over the weekend when I came across a documentary on Citi TV on the Akwamu state.

A lady journalist was interviewing the Akwamuhene, Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, who took the trouble to take her through the history of his people and their migration to their current homeland. I found it thoroughly engaging.

Of course, I have read about the famed Asamani of Akwamu, who once seized the keys to Christianborg Castle, but I was particularly fascinated when Odeneho summoned for the keys to be brought to be shown to the lady and to the cameras.

In many ways, the keys brought to life what I had read in the dry history books I read many years ago, and I could feel the sense of awe the lady undoubtedly felt as she gazed at the bunch of rusty keys, an important part of Gold Coast history.

I honestly think there are many rich treasures in this land that we can bring to our people, especially through the power of television, and I have always enjoyed UTV's 'Heritage Ghana' series.

They win my heart over imported telenovelas by many light years.

One of my very few New Year resolutions was that once every quarter in 2019, I would visit a part of Ghana I have never been to and spend a weekend.

I think my first 2019 destination is now settled.

I must visit the palace and see Asamani's keys 'filifili'.

Going on to relax on the banks of the Volta and swaying in a fortified hammock while enjoying a cocktail and watching the golden sunset away from the grit and grind of city life does not seem a bad idea at all.

Akwamuman, here I come.

By Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng