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Opinions of Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Columnist: George Appiah

To all those who murdered Captain Mahama

In the early 2000s, there was this mysterious menace where people claimed their genitals vanished when they were touched. It led to a lot of lynching in Accra and beyond.

A young man was lynched right in front of me at Odorkor lorry station. No one raised a finger. That gory incident has stayed with me and haunted me ever since. It turned out the victim was an innocent worker at VALCO who had only stopped at Odorkor to buy "shito lo"!

Personally, somewhere around 2004, I was nearly lynched myself. I was in a trotro from Kaneshie to Mallam, when we got to the last stop at Mallam, just as we were all getting down, a man claimed he had felt my hand in his pocket, he shouted thief, thief ; everyone at the station was about descending on me, luckily for me, I was just coming from town where I had just withdrawn 8 million old gh cedis from the bank, (good money then) I screamed; “ how can I pick-pocket you when I have 8 million cedis in my hands?? That is what God used to save me, I would have been lynched! So I'm not holding brief for those who lynched this officer. But lynching is mostly born out of ignorance and everyone involved in this heinous crime, must face the law! These women saw a gun and all they thought was "armed robbery"

It's however interesting how all of a sudden so called Ghanaian elites, have now seen the "evil" of lynching? Is it because he is a "handsome young man with Mahama" as a last name? The hypocrisy being displayed in this case is very unsurprising because I know my people! Almost everyday in Ghana, someone is lynched on mere suspicion, either from stealing a goat, or stealing plantain, or being an armed robber, yet we all see it as justified! Anytime there’s news of someone beaten on suspicion of being a thief, the usual refrain is: “Ah, why didn’t they finish him”? nobody cares to know the truth! And yes many a times, these suspects were thieves, but was lynching the solution? For every 10 people lynched, there are perhaps 3 who are innocent! Has anyone paused to think about that?

But now in Ghana, we have so called social media, and everyone wants to outdo the other to be the coolest posse on the block, so we have the Lydia Forsons and the Politicians and media personalities all tripping over each other with crocodile tears and crying and shouting for the town of Denkyira Obuase to be raised down! Once again, in their frenzy to always lynch people on mere suspicion, they don’t want to even hear about investigations so that the real culprits can be brought to book. They just want to lynch the whole town just as those barbaric residents of Denkyira Obuase lynched Captain Mahama!

Well this is what I want to say to you Ghanaians; by your frenzied reactions: calling for the whole town of Obuase to be raised down without recourse to order, you have just shown that you are not any different from those who lynched Captain Mahama! For it is that same mentality of action before reason, that led to his murder. When you rejoiced over that “criminal” who was lynched at Taifa, you were merely setting up the stage for the murder of Captain Mahama.

When you shouted finish him at that “criminal”being beaten to death at Latterbiokoshie, you were only a stageman preparing the stage for the murder of Captain Mahama, when you cheered at that young woman in the streets of Adum Kumase, who was stripped naked and beaten for stealing, you were only preparing the stage for the murder of Captain Mahama! How dare you find your voice now Lydia Forson???... Is it because he’s your friend? Is it because he’s a fine young intellectual and Army officer from a prominent family? Who happen’s to be the former President’s nephew as well??

We have to understand that as a country, the only way we can survive is to allow law and order. That in applying the law, some criminals might even escape the net because they can beat the law. But the only way we can assure that everyone would have a fair shake, is allowing the law to rule irrespective of where it falls! It cannot be that the law should work for some but not for others! That lynching is ok for some class of people in our society.

Now to the family of Captain Mahama, my deepest condolencces. Whether he was part of “operation halt 2” as claimed by our Defense minister, or he was callously sent to his death on account of the financial interests of some so called army commanders, our country has done you wrong and it’s easy to be angry and seek retribution, but that won’t bring him back. Instead, you can allow him to use even his death to be of service to his country.

Allow his death to be a watershed moment to awaken this country to the senselessness of lynching as a route to justice and use his death to lead a movement against this madness. Even in his death, he has given you the chance to use his death as a weapon to fight the very indignity he suffered, and I hope God Almighty grants you the peace, grace and courage to grasp it!!

Adieus Captain!!!