Opinion | Jan 20, 2019

Mr. Rawlings, Your Track-Record on Human Rights and the Protection of Ghanaian Journalists Is Unenviable

Adding his voice to passionate calls for an investigation into the Mafia-class execution of Mr. Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a longtime undercover investigative journalist and colleague and partner of famed investigative journalist and lawyer, Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas, was quite welcome even if a bit characteristically too self-righteous and hypocritical for comfort. The fact of the matter is that contrary to what former President Jerry John Rawlings would have Ghanaians and the rest of the world believe, his 20-year tenure as both a gun-toting strongman – and now, this is how our country came to be flooded with assault weapons – and a democratically elected leader left much to be desired. Indeed, it was his primitively repressive clampdown on the media, both public and private, in the spurious name of “Revolution,” throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, that prompted the political historian and scholar Prof. Albert Adu-Boahen to coin the term “The Culture of Silence” that has palled or engulfed the land.

So it is rather amazing that Mr. Rawlings should be virulently accusing Mr. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong of having instigated last Wednesday night’s brutal shooting death of the 31-year-old undercover journalist (See “Decision of a Reckless Man to Unmask Sule Killed Him – Rawlings” RainBowRadioOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/20/19). Of course, it is incontrovertibly true that widely publicizing the young man’s mugshots in the media and publicly pledging to handsomely reward anybody who undertook the veritably criminal act of physically assaulting Mr. Hussein-Suale, makes the New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament for Assin-Central at least circumstantially culpable of the brutal slaying of the former Tiger-Eye PI sleuth. But, of course, the fact still firmly holds that our law-enforcement agencies need to thoroughly conduct an investigation into the murder of Mr. Hussein-Suale in order to forensically sustainably establish the fact of whether, indeed, the owner of NET 2 TV and Oman-FM Radio, as well as a host of other business enterprises, could be legally held accountable for the death of Mr. Hussein-Suale.

I also find it equally significant to highlight the fact that former President Rawlings could be indisputably held accountable for having promoted the sort of reckless hostility against media operatives in the country over the past 40 years than any other Ghanaian leader, both before and after his dictatorial domination of our national political landscape. Indeed, a critical examination of the media during the bloody tenure of Chairman Rawlings would inescapably bear out the fact that nearly every significant reporter of the period when he reigned as the de facto monarch of Ghana, with his cousin Capt. Kojo Tsikata (Rd.), went to prison at one time or another, among them Messrs. John Kugblenu, late, Kweku Baako, Abdul-Rahman Harruna-Attah and a platoon of others too numerous to mention. To be certain, true media freedom did not reign in the country or come into existence in Ghana’s Fourth Republic until Mr. John Agyekum-Kufuor was sworn in as substantive and the first credibly democratically elected leader in January 2001, with the auspicious and progressive crafting of the landmark Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law by the now-President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, then the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

You see, the irony here is that the Criminal Libel Law was a British colonial legal instrument that was intended to silence local protesters of British colonial imperialism. But this decree would be used with reckless abandon by the Ghanaian politicians who succeeded the British imperialists in the postcolonial era. Needless to say, the two most diabolical and extortionate appropriators of the now-defunct Criminal Libel Law, namely, Messrs. Kwame Nkrumah and Jerry John Rawlings, were also the longest-ruling Ghanaian leaders in the postcolonial era. Mr. Rawlings cannot pretend to have been more circumspect in his treatment of journalists in the country than Mr. Agyapong is widely alleged to have treated Mr. Hussein-Suale. In fact, comparatively speaking, the reckless and narcissistic misbehavior of Chairman Rawlings led to the deaths and the ruination of the lives and careers of more journalists than could be legitimately be said of either President Nkrumah or the Assin-Central’s New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament.

It goes without saying that under the tenure of Chairman Rawlings, the Anas Aremeyaw Anas-owned and operated Tiger-Eye PI company would not have existed. In all likelihood, like the brutal assassination of the Accra High Court Judges, the sleuthing likes of Messrs. Anas and Hussein-Suale would have been secretly and contractually executed long before they could have dared to expose any of the Tin-Gods of the Rawlings-fangled so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). They would literally have been tagged as “Enemies of the State” and summarily executed by firing squad.

Even so, in the wake of the apparently stalking-murder of Mr. Hussein-Suale, I find myself wondering whether it would not be appropriate to at least have Mr. Agyapong temporarily suspended from the ruling New Patriotic Party, until the conclusion of investigations into the brutal slaying of Mr. Hussein-Suale, to send the unmistakable signal that such criminally reckless incitement to hatred against our prized political watchdogs will not be tolerated by the leadership of the ruling party under any circumstances.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
January 20, 2019
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

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