Last week, the family of slain journalist, Suale, observed the one-year anniversary of his gruesome murder by unknown assailants. Of course, predictably, no government official was present to sympathize with the family and share its pain, sorrow and anguish.
Suale’s assassination shock the Ghanaian press establishment. In the immediate aftermath of the terrifying event, there was palpable fear and anger in newsrooms around the country. Here, after all, was a brave young man who had helped unearth the rot, the abominable and endemic corruption in the Ghana Football Association silenced by those who thought he had apparently gone too far in exposing wrongdoing.
By their dastardly deed, the thugs who gunned down Suale and their sponsors clearly were telegraphing a message to Ghanaian reporters who dare to cross their paths; “You are fair game; either you play by the rules of the underworld or violence will be inflicted on you.”
The media world in Ghana is still gripped with fear because to date, Suale’s murder remains unsolved; and from all indications, the government seems to have thrown in the towel, clearly given up on finding the killers.
As far as Ghanaians are concerned, the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Ghana Police Service has not flexed its muscles enough to convince them that it is actively working to solve the mystery surrounding Suale’s murder.
It is indeed disheartening that the Unit hasn’t developed strong leads that could ultimately take it to the killers, who may in fact be hiding in plain sight.
Suale’s killing was undoubtedly an attack on the democratic values we cherish so much. The sad fact is that a new breed of illiberal leaders are assailing a free and critical press. If these leaders are accused of wrongdoing, they immediately dismiss the accusations as fake news and use the power of the state to harass journalists.
Reporters Without Borders recently issued this warning. That a climate of hatred and animosity whipped up by leaders towards journalists was posing a threat to democracies.
More and more democratically elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion.
Reporters Without Borders hit the nail right on the head; the warning is instructive in the sense that it alerts us to the dangerous conditions journalists around the world work in and the kind of obstacles political leaders throw in their path.
Ahmed Suale’s brutal assassination revealed a painful truth about those in power. They are a bunch of cowards who fear being exposed for their illicit ways. Killing Suale was a serious disservice and a dangerous threat to the rule of law in Ghana.