US Representative for Georgia’s 4th congressional district Henry Calvin Johnson Jr has written to the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to consider slapping various sanctions on Ghanaian lawmaker Kennedy Ohene Agyapong over the death of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale.
Hussein-Suale’s death on Wednesday night has sent shock waves across the world given his not-too-long-ago involvement in the investigation that led to the exposure of corruption within Ghana football.
He was shot dead by unknown assailants while returning from work.
He was a key member of the Tiger Eye PI team that investigated bribery and graft, resulting in the dissolution of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the resignation of then President Kwesi Nyantakyi.
Barely 12 hours after the death of Ahmed, his senior colleague Anas Aremeyaw Anas posted an excerpted video of Mr Agyapong instigating his supporters to beat up the journalist for monetary reward.
Mr Agyapong, the Member of Parliament for Assin Central Constituency in the Central Region of Ghana, has since condemned Anas’s action, suspecting the award-winning journalist of rather having a hand in the murder.
Already, police have begun investigations into the crime and Mr Agyapong has offered to assist investigations if it would even involve his arrest.
On Friday, senior member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Hank Johnson urged maximum US diplomatic, law enforcement and intelligence support for the investigations being carried out by the Homicide Unit of the Ghana Police Service.
He also urged the application of travel, banking and other applicable sanctions targeting Mr Agyapong, “who urged violence against the journalist prior to his murder”.
The journalist, who has since been buried in accordance with Islamic custom, was shot twice in his chest and once on his neck in close range.
“The professional execution-style slaying of Mr. Hussein-Suale in the aftermath of Mr. Agyapong’s disgraceful threats raises serious and credible suspicions about the circumstances of this murder.
“We cannot allow the voices of truth to be muffled by those who would benefit from silence and deceit.
“Our cherished American principles of freedom of the press necessitate a prompt and thorough investigation,” the Congressman, popularly known as Hank, wrote.
Find below his letter to the Secretary of State:
The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. State Department
2201 C St. NW
Washington, DC 20520
January 18, 2019
Dear Secretary Pompeo,
I write to urge maximum U.S. diplomatic, law enforcement, and intelligence support for an investigation into the murder of journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale, who was shot to death in Ghana on January 16, 2019, as well as to urge the application of travel, banking, and other applicable sanctions targeting Kennedy Agyapong MP, a Ghanaian politician who urged violence against the journalist prior to his murder.
Mr. Hussein-Suale established his reputation as an undercover journalist exposing corruption, most prominently in the 2018 investigation of disgraced FIFA Council member Kwesi Nyantakyi. The suspicious circumstances of his murder this week warrant particular scrutiny. As Americans dedicated to press freedom, we must acknowledge that repression of the free press anywhere threatens the free press everywhere, including here at home.
Mr. Hussein-Suale worked as a journalist investigating corruption in many sectors, from government to international athletics, alongside famed reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas for Tiger Eye PI and the British Broadcasting Corporation. In May 2018, the duo published footage of senior FIFA Council Member Kwesi Nyantaki accepting a $63,000 bribe from undercover journalists. Soon after, FIFA stripped Mr. Nyantakyi of his position and banned him from the sport for life. After Mr. Hussein-Suale, Mr. Anas, and their colleagues exposed widespread corruption across Ghana’s national soccer league earlier this year, Ghanaian President Nana Akfo-Addo summarily dissolved the Ghana Football Association. The same investigation exposed dozens of soccer officials accepting illegal payments, including a referee scheduled to officiate at last year’s World Cup in Moscow, Russia.
On Wednesday, January 16, Mr. Hussein-Suale was killed near his home by three bullets fired at close range — two in his chest and one in his neck. No arrests have yet been made in connection with the murder. Press freedom organizations such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have expressed grave concern that this was a targeted assassination. The concern is wholly reasonable — Mr. Hussein-Suale and colleagues involved in the investigation of Mr. Nyantakyi came under heavy personal attack when they disclosed their findings in mid-2018, including from a member of the Ghanaian parliament. That member, Kennedy Agyapong, took to the screen on his own television station and disgraced himself by outrageously encouraging violence against the journalist, offering to pay personally for such violence, disclosing Mr. Hussein-Suale’s whereabouts, and publishing photographs of the undercover journalist live on screen.
The professional execution-style slaying of Mr. Hussein-Suale in the aftermath of Mr. Agyapong’s disgraceful threats raises serious and credible suspicions about the circumstances of this murder.
We cannot allow the voices of truth to be muffled by those who would benefit from silence and deceit. Our cherished American principles of freedom of the press necessitate a prompt and thorough investigation.
I therefore respectfully request the Department to take the following actions:
- Assess the potential scope of U.S. diplomatic, law enforcement, and intelligence support for the Government of Ghana’s investigation of Mr. Hussein-Suale’s death, including potential Federal Bureau of Investigation support via the Office of the Legal Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Accra;
- Conduct an independent assessment of the murder and the quality and scope of the Ghanaian government’s investigation; and
- Determine what sanctions may be levied against Kennedy Agyapong MP, including a ban on travel to the U.S., a ban on access to the U.S. banking system for Mr. Agyapong and his businesses, and any other appropriate and applicable sanctions.
Please respond to my office within 30 days of receipt of this letter. Thank you.
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.
Member of Congress