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TALKING DRUM: Anas, Kennedy Agyapong & the ‘Abobo Yaa’ dancers!

When the Assin Central Member of Parliament (MP) admonished Ghanaians to be watchful of investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, so he does not get access to our bedrooms, the response from the public was as predictable as the havoc caused by the annual ritual of floods in Accra. An overwhelming uproar it was!

Personally, I asked, “How?”

Kennedy Ohene Agyapong had complained of the journalist’s method of investigating his suspects― that which many have termed as an entrapment. I must say that I do not see that as a problem. If Anas comes to you with money without it being forced on you, why do you take it if you are not corrupt?

Then, a day or two after receiving the barrage of criticisms from the public, the ‘no-nonsense’ MP wades in another attack on Anas. This time, he claimed he had a basketful of evidence which suggests that Anas Aremeyaw Anas is himself more corrupt than anybody else.

“Really? Could this be true?” a friend asked me in a WhatsApp chat. Indeed, we were both very shocked. The public, again, barked at Mr. Agyapong for deliberately thwarting the meticulous effort of the journalist.

I have not conducted any survey but I can say without fear that to almost 90% of Ghanaians, Kennedy Agyapong ‘talks too much’. So… his latest rant on Anas, to them, was only a usual blab.

However, after following numerous interviews granted by the Member of Parliament and upon a deeper thought, I have come to the conclusion that we cannot sweep under the carpet the serious allegations against Anas.

Before showing his Who Watches The Watchman video on Wednesday June 27, 2018, Mr. Agyapong had accused Anas of setting free some of the corrupt officials he caught with his cameras at the Tema Habour and took money from a doctor who illegally conducted abortions at Korle Bu, never publishing such a story.

Patrons at ‘Who Watches the Watchman?’ screening

That was not all. Anas is said to have connived with a state attorney to ‘kill’ a case in court and employed the services of land guards to terrorize innocent citizens. These and many other allegations were levelled against him. Are these not heart-throbbing allegations that we must allow the Member of Parliament to present us with evidence?

This has been my position since the heated banter ensued between the MP and the celebrated journalist. However, the maverick politician has not been given a fair hearing by majority of Ghanaians. On social media, they keep rubbishing his claims at face value.

If we gladly watched Anas’ Number 12 which allegedly uncovers massive corruption at the Ghana Football Administration, why can we not similarly allow Kennedy Agyapong to bring us his evidence without ridiculing him?

On Sunday, July 1, 2018, when I got to Kaneshie in the Greater Accra region en route work, about 15 young men ecstatically were dancing.  Some clad in ladies’ apparel with others in jerseys, they danced heartily while they followed a moving tricycle [known in local parlance as ‘Abobo Yaa’]. It was loaded with speakers in its bucket and it hummed all the Azonto songs you could think of.

The ‘Abobo Yaa’ dancers, I realised, had one aim; to closely trail the invisible footprints of their tricycle. So, they quickly overtook any ‘trotro’ [public transport] that came in between them and the tricycle. These dancers can only be likened to majority of Ghanaians who have decided to closely follow and listen to one side of the argument. That is a good course but giving the other person a listening ear, too, shows maturity. One must not take sides because it concerns their friend, relative or acquaintance.

Not long ago, Member of Parliament for Asawase, Muntaka Mubarak, dragged Kennedy Agyapong to the House’s Privileges Committee for allegedly hurling insults at the legislative body. Subsequently, the Assin Central Member of Parliament appeared before the Privileges Committee of Parliament on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, to respond to questions.

Just as Muntaka took the case to the Privileges Committee, there were concerns that Parliament may shield/protect their own. That, nothing will come out of the Privileges Committee’s probe. This perception goes beyond Parliament. Same can be said of the Ghana Police Service and other public institutions whenever they have to investigate their own.

And the media has always been the platform for trumpeting such a perception. So, how has the media been treating Anas before and after Kennedy Agyapong showed his Who Watches The Watchman?

My close monitoring of the media reveals a seeming unfair treatment of the Anas-Ken banter. In a UTV interview with Mr. Agyapong on June 29, 2018, the host [whose name I do not know] in playing the devil’s advocate messed up in her questioning. One of such was her fierce defense that one employing the services of land guards is commendable. She saw nothing wrong with the phenomenon of land guards. This was after the MP accused Anas of allegedly terrorising innocent citizens with his land guards.

Could the presenter not have asked for evidence from the MP to substantiate his point rather than trying to be on one side?

In a series of editorial cartooning on the Anas-Ken banter, renowned cartoonist Tilapia, I think, has also not been fair to Mr. Agyapong. From ‘Antidote to Agyapong’s verbal diarhoea’ dated June 11, 2018; ‘Who Watches the Honourable,’ June 27, 2018; to ‘Who Watches the Watchman … Part 2,’ June 27, 2018, all these cartoons favored Anas.

Tilapia’s ‘Who Watches the Watchman… Part 2’ had Kennedy Agyapong pointing to a television set. The television shows the face of Kumawood actor, Agya Koo. Let’s assume without admitting that Mr. Agyapong’s first premiere lacked substance, how certain are we to insinuate that his second premiere will be but comedy as Agya Koo is made to represent such? Are we not prejudging when we have not seen all the supposed evidence from Mr. Agyapong?

On the night the MP premiered his video, TV3 at the same time showed an interview sports journalist Michael Oti Adjei had with Anas. I could not watch that interview. However, a 26 minutes 3 seconds long video of the said interview I watched on YouTube afterwards had Oti Adjei not asking Anas about the allegations against him.

I stand to be corrected if the presenter asked Anas such questions which the 26 minutes long video did not capture.

“Now, the Who Watches The Watchman have you seen it yourself … the video?” asked Starr FM’s Francis Aban when Anas appeared on his morning show. It was a day after Mr. Agyapong’s premiere. I must say Aban’s interview with Anas was somewhat interesting, however, like that of Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host, on the same day, Anas gave clues for follow up questions which the two presenters failed to ask.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas is one journalist I so much admire and revere. From my days at the teachers’ training college till now a journalist, he has been one journalist I so much respect for his exploits. I think, however, that that should not cloud my sense of judgment and reasoning.

We are incessantly told that no one is above the laws of the land and for this, it is only fair that we do not obstruct Mr. Agyapong in bringing us his supposed evidence. The game is fair hearing. If, indeed, the revered anti-corruption campaigner is himself guilty of the very act of people he names, shames and jails as claimed by the MP, then the law must have its way.

“A teacher must be firm and fair,” was a chorus on the lips of many of our teachers at the then Berekum Teacher Training College. Truly, there comes a time that we all must be fair and firm and find the truth. At the end of the day, it is either Mr. Agyapong annihilates Anas or himself.

By Solomon Mensah

The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General’s 3FM/TV3. Views expressed here are solely his and do not, in anyway, reflect the editorial policy of his organisation.

Email: nehusthan4@yahoo.com

Twitter: @Aniwaba

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