Time for the Culprit to face the Music!

Tue, 15 Sep 2009 Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

As usual, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) report was so sophomorically and amateurishly composed that at the end of it all, the reader was left wondering whatever happened to the good, old respectable art of hard-news reportage. No wonder, quite a while ago, the overall head of the GNA – I forget how s/he is designated these days – was reported to not having been paid for months.

Anyway, the news report in question regards one Chief-Inspector Ben Asiamah, formerly in charge of Hohoe’s Golokwati Police Station, who was allegedly assaulted by a criminal suspect that he had been detailed to apprehend. The unidentified suspect had brutally and fatally struck Inspector Asiamah on the forehead and rendered him unconscious; the victim would be revived and ferried to the Hohoe Government Hospital. According to the GNA report, Inspector Asiamah never fully recovered from the aforementioned assault. He would also be taken to a prayer camp, by some members of his family, for therapy.

What is also quite interesting about the GNA story, captioned “Assaulted Policeman Dies” (Ghanaweb.com 9/3/09), is that the reader is informed that Chief-Inspector Asiamah had apparently met his death “when lightning struck him while he was having his bath.” The victim, however, does not appear to have been instantly felled in his bathroom; instead, we are further informed that “A police source told the GNA that the deceased was found in his sofa in his [living?] room[,] after co-tenants had forced his door open.”

Precisely what motivating factor caused the co-tenants of Inspector Asiamah to pry his door open, after which event his lifeless body was discovered on his couch in a sitting posture, the reader is not told. Nonetheless, one can almost readily surmise that, perhaps, the victim had been dead for several days, with his corpse exuding the kind of stench that is generally associated with decaying organic matter, human or otherwise.

Then also, the reader is not informed as to why Chief-Inspector Asiamah had singularly attempted to apprehend the criminal suspect who appears to have been much stronger than the law-enforcement agent. Why, for instance, had the police chief not been accompanied by at least one of his lieutenants, or been apparently incapable of promptly calling for backup? And even more significantly, was the arresting police chief adequately armed so as to be able to promptly defend himself or ward off any unforeseen instance of personal danger such as appears to have been the case here? Needless to say, the preceding are critical policy, legal and judicial issues that ought to be promptly resolved before any further action is taken on this matter.

For instance, what does the law say about criminal suspects who brutally assault peace and security agents in the line of duty? In other words, what is the current status of the criminal suspect whose attempted arrest sent Inspector Asiamah to the hospital and directly or obliquely to his death? Has the culprit been arrested and duly charged with the crimes that he has reportedly committed or, as has been known to prevail under the tenure of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), is the unnamed suspect still up and about the mean streets of the Hohoe municipality?

This writer has also decided to go out on a limb, as it were, by presuming the late Chief-Inspector Ben Asiamah to be a Ghanaian of Akan ethnic descent, and his unidentified assailant very likely an Ewe native of the Hohoe municipality or its environs. I am making this presumption largely on the basis of the alarming number of Ghanaians with Akan-sounding names who have met their untimely demise in the Volta Region, particularly in the Hohoe district while in the line of duty. For instance, not very long ago, a brilliant, young female judge of Akan descent, from Akyem-Kukurantumi and an alumna of the Ofori-Panin Secondary School, was brutally stabbed (multiple times) to death while driving on the highway in the Hohoe area. The victim, a fast-rising star in the Ghanaian judicial firmament, was believed to have been ambushed and fatally felled by somebody who had been arraigned before her court.

That the Hohoe municipality, in particular, and the Volta Region, in general, may not be welcoming of Akan civil servants, is obliquely illustrated by the following story. About ten years ago, a former high school English teacher of this writer’s, who currently sits on the Fast-Track High Court in Accra, flatly refused to maintain a Hohoe residential address when he was posted for circuit court service in that Volta Regional municipality. He had initially kicked against his posting to no avail. My former teacher, whom I also recently discovered to be my paternal cousin, would also not spend any weekends in the Hohoe district because, according to him, the place presented the sort of hostile narrative milieu that would make Kano’s Boko Haram jihadists seem like executive members of the World Peace Council. And then several days ago, a Ms. Samantha Hammond published an article in which the author bitterly complained about the ethnically exclusive employment culture in the Ewe enclaves of the Volta Region, a nativist policy called “Miawo De” whose most eloquent and at once most notorious advocate-theorist is said to be the quite renowned Ewe poet, novelist and pseudo-historian Professor Kofi N. Awoonor. What we are trying to argue here is that unless the government of the Ewe-dominated so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) begins to promptly and seriously demonstrate its willingness to play fair and square on behalf of all Ghanaians, irrespective of ethnicity or territorial/regional origin, aggrieved non-Ewe Ghanaians who feel blatantly alienated from equal employment and other civic opportunities in the Volta Region, would shortly begin to repay blood for blood and fire with its own kind. For, it goes without saying that what is good for the tiger must also be good for the leopard!

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), the pro-democracy think tank, and the author of 20 books, including “Sounds of Sirens: Essays in African Politics and Culture” (iUniverse.com, 2004). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@aol.com. ###

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame