The Anas’ #12 – Method is unethical and simplistic
This 6th July is exactly one month since Anas Aremeyaw Anas dropped a “long range laser missile” on the GFA that has since caused a “tsunamic” turn of events.The missile was so destructive that it has brought to total collapse the executive body of the GFA.
It is important for me to make it unequivocally clear that corruption and rot should have no place in this country that is religiously religious. Corruption and all forms of crime must be legally fought with all vigour and without fear or favour.It is on the basis of this belief that many people in our Motherland havewidely thanked, praised and commended Anas for taking the path of exposing crime, rot and corruption in our nation through his periodic undercover investigative pieces. As a progressive citizen who means well for our nation, he deserves our encouragement and praise.This article is by no means meant to side with the culprits of crime and corruption but it is to add my voice to the discourse surrounding some of Anas’ methodology.In this article I wish to argue that Anas’ method employed in his #12 was unethical, too simplistic and quite immoral.
I will proceed by stating this obvious fact: the means to an end is as important as the end itself. I believe that many people in our nation recognize this, that the means to an end is sacrosanct. I dare say that we should therefore fight to defend how (the means to which) things are achieved or earned – it is moral and ethical so to do. I watched people who had thronged the Accra International Conference Centre to watch the premiering of the Anas’ #12 and how furious they were with the GFA president and those who were caught on tape taking monies purportedly to corrupt their work.
This shows that people really abhor the means by which those found on Anas’ video were amassing their wealth. It shows to me that as a nation, we are concerned about how people achieve their heights or earn their wealth. There seems to be a general consensus that people are not ready to applaud and bow to wealthy peoplewho acquire their wealthy through robbery or exploitation of other citizens.
Neither are people ready to be proud of our children who graduate with First Class through exam mal-practices or bought their grades with sex. Similarly, it seems that people won’t give their cooperation to politicianswho become parliamentarians or presidentsby stealing the people’s votes. All these tell me one thing: The means to an end is very important to majority of our citizens. If this principle is true and agreeable, then it is on this basis that I wish to object to Anas in some of his modus operandi employed inhis Number 12 documentary concerning football in Ghana.
I am told Anas had indicated that he focused his current work on the football sport in Ghana because there have been many years of allegations of pervasive corruption in this part of national life.
Let me start off my argument by attempting a description of who I believe an undercover investigator or investigative journalist is. This is fundamental to my piece, because that is how Anas has over the years been referred to. According to the Wikipedia “Undercover journalism is a form of journalism in which a reporter tries to infiltrate in a community by posing as somebody friendly to that community.” He does this in order to gather information as evidence against a crime. Barnaby Page says “An undercover journalist pretends to be someone who they are not, in order to discover facts (often secrets) which they can then write about as a journalist.”
He argues that many people have questioned the ethics of this style of journalism. He indicates: “Most people concerned with the ethics of the media would say that [it] is irresponsible journalism, because the undercover journalist is not exposing a secret crime that already existed, but trying to make an innocent person commit one - purely in order to get a good story” (www.quora.com). I agree with his argument – I will revisit it in more detail later in this work. In fact, it is the fulcrum around which my work revolves.
As far as I am concerned, an undercover investigator or investigative journalist is one who trails criminals, able to break into their sphere where they commit their crimes, even befriends them and then gather credible evidence as the crimes are being committed. Every undercover investigator must have time, for he may have to trail the criminals for a very long time.It does not matter how long he has to trail them – his objective is to capture/gather as many important evidences as possible. He must not under any circumstance be in a hurry, for he must not do anything whether overtly or covertly to influence how speedily or slowly the crime should be committed. In other words, he must not in any way influence the commission of the crime.
The commission of the crime should be as natural to the perpetrator as possible. Secondly, the undercover investigator/journalist must be ahead of the criminals in terms of anticipating where and when they may potentially commit the next crime. So the undercover investigator or investigative journalist is almost always able to go ahead of the criminals to plant his evidence gathering accoutrements. This means that he must be very sophisticated. Thirdly, even though he must be able to break into the arena where the crime is committed and may court the friendship of the so called criminals, he is always not a direct or indirect participant in the perpetration of the crime.
All he does is to gather his evidence by using his tools as the crime is being committed. He must be exclusive to the crime or the criminals.For me, the basic principle for any undercover investigator worth his sort must be that he must not under any circumstance be an active participator in the commission of the crime. It is this reason why it can take the investigator many years. His work is also risky, because he must remain anonymous as well as an outsider to the crime. This is so important, because the means of gathering evidence to a crime that has the capacity to permanently alter a person’s life or reputation must be as important as the evidence itself. Once he is part of the crime, even in the slightest way, it casts a slur on the integrity of the evidence so collected.
If my understanding of an undercover investigator or investigative journalist is correct, then I wish to opine that Anas’ method, especially, in relation to the referees and match commissioners is amateurish and far below standard. In the video, Anas or his agents are seen handing out monies to referees and match commissioners ostensibly to convince them to compromise their official duties in favour of some others
The conclusion arrived at by almost every commentator I have listened to on this issue is that the alleged culprits have engaged in corrupt acts. However, under laws of corruption, especially in the case of bribery, it takes two to commit the crime. They cannot be accused of bribery or corruption while Anas and his team are exonerated as if they have done nothing evil. Anas and his team are partners with the referees and match commissioners in that crime.
As per the video, the referees and match commissioners are guilty of accepting monies purportedly to compromise the outcome of the popular game. But as long as there was a “taking”, there certainly must have been a “giving”. The “taker” cannot be a sinner while the “giver”, remainsa saint. No, it does not work that way. A sinful means was used to gather that evidence and it makes the evidence inherently sinful. It does not matter how saintly the intentions of the giver was; once his method was flawed, his evidence would also be laden with flaws. Pure and simply!
By way of an example: Anas and his team, we are told in the video, went to a referee who was to officiate the match between my favourite side, Accra Hearts of Oak and our arch rivals, Kumasi Asante Kotoko. Anas or his team were there ostensibly to bribe the referee so that he could favour Accra Hearts of Oak against Asante Kotoko. The said referee fell for their trap and purportedly breached the rules of the body that regulates football. All this while, the person who trapped the referee to commit the crime was taping him.
He later brings the tape out to the public to buttress a long held view of corruption in the football game. For me, Anas’ method is like a young lady who wanted to prove that a certain old man was a rapist. She dressed provocatively, planted her cameras at a location, and succeeded in luring this old man to the location. She then jumped on the lap of the old man in her skimpy dress and began to touch his manhood. Then after the man was aroused and the animal in him was awakened, he pounced on the young lady like a ferocious lion, seeking to lie with her against her wish.
Even though the man may not be absolved of the crime of attempted rape, I am very sure the judge would also be minded by the events leading to the commission of the crime.For me, the young lady had no moral right to bring out the tape in the public to say, “Look, I told you this man is a rapist. Look, here is he, attempting to rape me.”
Her means of gathering that evidence was just wrong and unethical. The man may be guilty of an offence as may have been captured on the young lady’s camera, but the young lady could not be guiltless of temptation, provocation and entrapment. If the young lady had taken her time, been a bit more sophisticated and trailed the man, she would have known which locations the man would potentially carry out his crimes. She would then have gone ahead of him and planted her cameras and patiently lay in wait for the day the man would have brought a victim.
The evidence that would have been captured on the lady’s cameras would have beenmore credible and with much integrity than she herself speeding up the commission of the crime by getting personally involved by tempting, provoking or luring the man into the crime.The last time I checked, it was the devil or his cohorts who tempt and lure human beings to sin so that they wouldgo to God to accuse their victims. If it is merely about planning how to lure or provoke or tempt people to commit crimes, capture them on cameras and bring them out in the public domain that make people undercover investigators or investigative journalists,then many more people can venture into the area with ease, because it is cheap and easy.
As far as I am concerned, Anas should have trailed the purported criminal referees and match commissioners as long as he would find where and when they collect their bribes. He could have even befriended them and courted their trust just to gain access into their community. Access into their community would have helped him to know where and when they collect the bribes. Anas would then have been sophisticated enough by going ahead of them to those locations of crime and set up his cameras. The principle I wish to espouse here is that, the so called undercover investigator or investigative journalist must not under any circumstance be directly or indirectly involved in the commission of the crime to which he seeks evidence, otherwise he seizes to be an investigator but a pure criminal, no matter what good intentions he has to expose the crime.
You cannot expose crime by participating in it. You see, just as love is sacred, crime is secular (bad).The Bible says “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem . . . not to awaken love until the time is right” (Songs of Solomon 2: 7 NLT). The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible’s note on this scripture is very relevant for our discussion: “As appealing as love is, it should not be forced or rushed, hence the adjuration of the woman to the daughters [of Jerusalem]. It is clear that the couple is already in love, but they must allow their love to proceed at its proper pace, which includes waiting until the right time to consummate it. . .”(Emphasis mine). Even love, which is a good thing, must be left to proceed at its natural pace; it must not be forced or rushed.
The partners to the love adventure must be patient and wait until the right time to consummate their love in marriage. Similarly, and even more crucial is crime, which is bad and cancerously threatens society. If a person wishes to gather evidence on a crime, he must not be seen to force or rush the commission of the crime. He must be patient and allow the commission of the crime to proceed at its natural pace. In fact, he must get his evidence-gathering tools available and wait until the right time when the crime is finally committed. He cannot massage the process or speed up the commission of the crime. Once that happens, he is also a partner in the crime and he cannot have a sustainable and convincing defense.
Unfortunately, a critical analysis of his work tells me that Anas massaged the commission of all the crimes he captured for us – he was in a hurry. Assuming if those referees and match commissioners had also videoed Anas and his guys when they were attempting to bribe them; and had gone ahead of Anas’ #12 to also organize public viewing of their video in which Anas and his guys were seen attempting to bribe them, what would have been their defense? Who would have believed Anas? I believe this is one major reason why the investigative journalist must not use entrapment or allure or provocation to commit crime as his strategy or method of gathering evidence. It can go against his own credibility.
If you ask me, Anas’ work that I have watched which reflects an undercover investigator’s piece is that one he did on the Osu Children’s Home. It is the best work that reflects almostall the ingredients I have enumerated above about an undercover investigator. In the Osu Children’s Home work, Anas was able to break into the sphere where crime was being committed. He captured the purported crimes as they were taking place. He remained exclusive of the process of committing the crimes – he did not provoke, entrap or lure people to commit the crime. This evidence in my opinion will be more credible than when he goes to a person, uses money or gifts as baits to trap them and when they have fallen for his trap, he captures them and brings them out to the public as evidence of the victims’ criminality. True, on the basis of what had been captured, they may be guilty of those crimes, but the process of collecting that evidence lacks integrity.
One cannot employ corrupt and crime-laden methods to gather evidence about a crime and expect that evidence to hold integrity. It will not! Galatians 6: 7 says that “. . . whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.” If you sow corrupt means of gathering evidence, you shall reap a corrupt outcome – the evidence itself will also be tainted with corruption. It is an undeniable fact. Just as using a wrongful method to amass wealth is bad so is the use of a wrongful method to amass evidence to implicate a person of a crime.
Anas’ method is wrong and dangerous for our society. Almost all of us have latent propensity to commit crime. Either by our own values, principles or beliefs many of us try as much as possible not to awaken it, but it should never be another citizen’s business to entrap, allure, tempt or provoke his compatriots to awaken this propensity to commit crime, merely for him to capture them on tapes and present them as evidence of crime against them. If that citizen has any suspicion of other’s criminal life, he should use other credible methods apart from temptation, allure or entrapment to expose the crime. Bringing out material based on such a method is only good for its populist and sensational capital; morally, it is my contention that it is wrong and evil. In the normal scheme of things within our jurisprudence, when evidence is gathered on a crime, it is presented before a neutral body (the court).
That evidence is then subjected to strict interrogation by the defendant(s). Such a process then affords the neutral person (the judge) who is the one given the mandate and training to decide, based on rules and laws, whether the evidence is good enough to declare the alleged criminalguilty. But what do we see? Anas goes to tempt others to commit a crime while at the same time makes his cameras ready. When the persons fall into his temptation, he captures them on videos, goes to his studios to edit the videos; and where possible may have cut out places where he himself may be implicated; and then brings the edited work out to the court of public opinion where people untrained to adjudicate a case, sit on it. Such a process is biased, unprofessional and not objective. It is nothing other than getting“evidence at all cost”,and that is certainly not good for our society.
All that this work does is that, after the public have sat on the case, they, with emotions, send the victims of temptation (in this case, the referees and match commissioners) to the gallows and hang them. Remember that what they were captured on tape doing may be a reflection of what they may have been doing all along;but that does not make the method good. It is so easy for anybody to some way somehow fall into this dangerous trap and that is why it should be discouraged. We will have the situation where people carry their cameras around, trap others suspected to be criminals and cunningly get them on tape falling for certain crimes.Then such videos are brought into the public domain as evidence of the victims’ criminality. Are we really ready for such a society?
I have heard others refer to the judicial corruption expose to justify Anas’ method. But people don’t get it. I believe the affected judges were not removed from office because the method Anas used was good. They lost their jobs because according to the rules of their work, they were not supposed to have exparte communications with parties to cases before them. Anas, by his temptation or entrapment, got them to breach that part of their code of ethics.
If the code of ethics included the fact that those parties to cases who illegally secure exparte communication with a judge would also face prosecution, I don’t believe that on the face of the same video evidence Anas used against the judges, he would have gone without prosecution.All that he did in that episode was just like the current one: to trap, tempt and allure the judges to do what they were not supposed to have them. Even though they breached their own regulations and they paid for it, the method of entrapment and temptation must never be accepted and encouraged.
I humbly call uponMr. Abdul Malik KwakuBaako, my many years mentor from afar, to whom Mr. Anas is a protégé, to kindly do an honest assessment of this method again. I love Mr.Baako, for he is honest, humble, objective and as far as can meet the human ear, upright in many respects. He has publicly conceded and apologized when he got things wrong.
He has publicly admitted his fallibility as a human being. Even when his friends hadbeen wrong, he has always had the boldness to publicly tell them they were wrong. He is a good man, not a hypocrite. I will therefore be very happy if he could, with his son, soberly do an assessment of his method again. The end cannot justify the means. The means to an end is as important as the end.All the best, Anas Aremeyaw Anas!