TALKING DRUM: Of a lynched soldier, Oba Chandler & the Rogers!

Capt. M. A. Mahama

At the Reception Hall at 3FM, one of MG Radio stations, in Accra, were two security men on duty that very night. They sat dejectedly and seemingly talking to the television set that hung on the wall.

The two guys were fuming that my “good evening” to them was submerged in their rants. Showing on the television was [email protected] on TV3. The Anchor was Stephen Anti and he was serving his viewers what would become, in my estimation, the most unpalatable news since the year 2017 began.

A soldier had been brutally lynched at Denkyira-Obuasi in the Central Region. The soldier, Captain Maxwell Adam Mahama, suffered in the hands of his accusers an excruciating pain of unfathomable weaponry of cement blocks and sticks. This pain, not even the boxers that once fought with Muhammad Ali could have endured it.

So, what was Captain Adam Mahama’s crime? Media reports have suggested that he had stopped on his way, on jogging, to buy some ‘food items’ from a market woman by the road side that leads to Denkyira-Obuasi. These food items he would leave it with the woman to pick them up on his way back. When he dipped his hand into his pocket for money to pay for the goods, the woman saw his side gun. This woman, we are told, later called the Assemblyman for the area that he had seen an armed robber.

The rest of the story ended up that this Assemblyman, William Baah, allegedly incited his people to stone Captain Adam Mahama to death. And this was the very rant of the two security men that manned 3FM on that Monday, May 29.

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When I returned to the newsroom with my editor, as we had closed, to work on this breaking news, I could hardly understand how cruel human beings could be at times. Indeed, even the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS] seeing this video would be shocked.

I must confess that I have heard, read, and watched a number of crime stories as reported by the media. However, two of all these crime stories get me heartbroken. One is that of Captain Adam Mahama’s death and the other involving a man named Oba Chandler and a woman and her two daughters referred to as the Rogers.

On June 1, 1989, Florida in the United States of America recorded one of its most notorious homicide cases. Joan Rogers, 36, Michelle Rogers, 17, and Christie Rogers, 14, from Ohio had travelled for vacation in Florida.

Here, they had visited Tampa Bay [a large natural harbour and estuary] and they would ask for directions from Chandler to their motel since they lost their way. This man lured the women, Joan Rogers [a mother and her two daughters; Michelle Rogers and Christie Rogers] for a cruise at night. However, little did they know that cruising onboard Chandler’s boat would be the hard way to say goodbye to the world. Yes!

Oba Chandler had raped all these three women, one after the other, and hanged to their necks each a cinder block and threw them into the Tampa Bay. Three days later, on June 4, Sunday morning, coast guards discovered the floating dead bodies staggering on the waters.

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“The women were pulled from Tampa Bay, bound, gagged, and naked below the waist,” writes the Daily Mail, UK.

Mind you, this is not a thriller to any movie. This is a real account. Sergeant Glenn Moore, who led the investigations, had found out that the Rogers received a hand-written note for the direction they asked for. This handwriting was subsequently pasted on giant boards in town telling citizens to help figure out whose handwriting it was.

Four months into the investigations, police found a 24-year-old Canadian woman who also had been sexually assaulted by Oba Chandler. She was onboard the same blue and white boat. This dastardly act took place only two weeks to the Rogers’ deaths.

This Canadian woman would later help the police craft a composite sketch of the rapist through a vivid description of the man. When the image was published in the newspapers, it got massive attention. Immediately a neighbour of Oba Chandler, Jo Ann Steffey, saw the composite image she knew it was that man known for notoriety.

After a long legal tussel as the prosecutor presented strong evidence together with the Canadian woman’s account, all against the rapist and serial killer, Oba Chandler was on September 29, 1994, sentenced to death. And, indeed, he was killed.

Thomas French, a reporter with the St Petersburg Times, in 1998 won a Pulitzer Prize [award] when he chronicled, in a seven-part series titled ‘Angels & Demons’  the horrifying narrative of Oba Chandler and the Rogers.

The gruesome murder of Captain Adam Mahama and that of the Angels and Demons may be two opposite accounts. However, one thing binds the two murder stories; the tendency of human beings getting cruel at times.

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Sergeant Glenn Moore, who later retired to preach the word of God, once said while commenting on the case he investigated that “Angels and demons are high in arms, in battle, over the souls of men.”

Indeed, the people around us including ourselves are either part of the angels or part of the demons that are bettering or destroying the world.

What could have annoyed men with brains to pelt their fellow human being with cement blocks to death? And what could have caused a man to rape a mother and her two daughters and murder them afterwards?

Oba Chandler was killed for his heinous crimes. Must Captain Adam Mahama’s killers be killed too? My view? Well, as DCE Kwame Kwakye is alleged to have once said; “I’m the who?” We leave it to the law.

However, should the law court find them guilty and say they are sentenced into jail ‘with hard labour,’ I only request that that hard labour be a daily ritual of military drills at the Burma Camp. By this, we will all desist from mob justice and from evil ways.

By Solomon Mensah

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect 3FM’s editorial policy.

Email: [email protected]