The spate of contract killings in the country is rising by the day and very soon it would be common. The permanent threat to the peace Ghana enjoys would not come from activities of criminals but rather the incompetence in safeguarding it.
Black’s (2000) defined contract killing as “a continuous sequence of interactions by one or more persons in which one person solicits another person to have a third person killed for gain, monetary or otherwise.” In describing the sequence, he noted the killing often begins with the initial exploration of the possibility of having someone killed. This is then consummated by the commission of a murder, attempted murder or police intervention.
But the first of the three possibilities in Black’s analysis has been the case in Ghana for the past decades. Innocent Ghanaians are either murdered in their homes or on the way to their homes. The very word home now evokes a sense of insecurity – that gnawing fear that you may be next on the hitmen’s list.
It would have been a sheer accident if the murder was a one-off incident. But the continuous maiming of people every year is an unfolding disaster that is biding its time – it would soon be common.
Some unconfirmed reports say there are close to 100 deaths recorded every year through contract killing in Ghana. This means that on average there are eight to nine deaths monthly, largely, masterminded by hitmen. But a majority of it goes unreported in the media, whilst the few ones that are brought to the public’s attention remain unsolved.
Isn’t it puzzling that nearly four years after the stabbing of Abuakwa North Member of Parliament (MP), J.B. Danquah-Adu at his Shiashie residence in February 2016, no one has been jailed for it. And the worst was when the Attorney-General, Gloria Akuffo, filed a nolle prosequi in May 2017, leading to the discharge of one Daniel Asiedu and his accomplice, Vincent Bosso who had confessed to committing the crime on the orders of an unnamed individual.
Barely three weeks into the month of January 2019, there have been two reported high-profile killings already. There are others that would escape the attention of the media, which means the public would never get to hear about them.
The first tragic incident was the murder of the Tema Ports and Harbour Marketing and Public Affairs Manager, Josephine Asante on January 12 at her residence in Tema. She was reportedly stabbed in her bedroom after she had returned from a Senior Staff party.
And before the shock about her murder could wear off, an investigative journalist with a private firm, Tiger Eye PI, Ahmed Hussein-Suale was gunned down by some unknown assailants last Wednesday, just four days apart. His death, unlike the others before him, has spawned an outflow of tributes and condemnation from the international community. There are deafening calls on the security agencies to arrest the perpetrators and arraigned them.
But how does Hussein-Suale’s murder help Ghana’s security agencies stem the tides of contract killings?
The desire to silence another person as a means of settling a dispute in whatever shape or form is fuelling the business of contract killing in the country. So far the security apparatus has been clueless and proven highly incompetent in resolving most of these killings. By its very nature, contract killing involves an agreement between participants (hitmen) or an incitement, solicitation, and procurement on the part of the instigator. In circumstances where the incitement precedes the actual commission of the crime, the instigator’s culpability should generally be in the capacity of an accessory to the murder, provided he is not present at the scene.
In situations the instigator is present at the scene of the crime, even though he may not have committed the actual murder, he automatically becomes a principal suspect and could be charged with murder. But when the perpetrators are apprehended, they would be charged with murder.
(Brett, Waller and Williams, 1997) said anyone could be “found guilty of inciting, procuring or soliciting a murder provided the intended recipient has heard and understood the words of incitement.” What this means that even though the person “incited, procured or solicited does nothing whatsoever in pursuit of the murder” the instigator’s offence could fall under the category of inchoate crimes.
Hussein-Suale’s life was endangered the very day the Assin Central MP, Kennedy Agyapong published his pictures and that of his colleagues after the explosive #Number12 documentary, which exposed the rot in football administration in Ghana. The deceased reportedly worked on the investigate piece with his partner, Anas Aremeyaw Anas that shook the foundation of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), leading to the resignation of president Kwesi Nyantakyi. He was later handed a life ban by the world football body, FIFA.
“Ahmed Hussein-Suale began experiencing threats to his life and reports of same from his immediate family and friends, only when details of his Ghanaian Passport and Photographs were shown and widely circulated on some TV stations and in the Print Media and Social Media platforms,” the family Spokesperson said at a press conference after the burial of the journalist.
An analysis of the killings committed so far shows contract killing in this part of the world is fast becoming a phenomenon with its own set of rules and rituals. Often, victims are attacked in their homes and the perpetrators do not touch any article there.
Also, manhunts by the security establishment have focused on the hitmen, ignoring the instigators of the crime. The criminals are becoming sophisticated by the minute and they are beating the security agencies to their own game. Talks about resourcing, particularly the police, started in the early 1990s and after over two decades, we are still doing the talking. The Ghanaian attitude is to act only when there is a major disaster and without this motivator, nothing real would be done.
If there is any lesson we need to learn from Hussein-Suale’s death, it is that the instigators of crimes should equally be of interest to the security agencies as much as the criminals. They may perhaps help the security agencies unravel the mystery around some of these crimes.
If Ghana is to solve the puzzle of contract killing that is threatening the safety of its citizens, the security agencies would need to step up their game by going after anyone who is remotely connected to any crime. At the moment they are sleeping just like other Ghanaians.
No one’s life should be taken by another. We must preserve life in Ghana and we must demonstrate this by going after persons behind the death of Hussein-Suale and Josephine Asante.
Kwabena Brakopowers is a journalist, novelist, and essayist whose works focus on politics, migration, social situation, economic and environmental issues. He spends his time writing either in Accra or Monrovia, where he calls his second home. He could be reached at Brakomen@outlook.com or visit www.brakopowers.com to read about him.