Absence of docket on Ahmed Suale’s murder case shows government indifference

The disclosure by Ghana’s Attorney-General and Minister of justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, that his office has received no docket on the murder of Ahmed Suale, is the utmost proof of the state’s lack of commitment to solving the case.

“No docket or document fit for prosecution has been built and presented to my office since the murder”, the Minister said on February 20, 2024.

Ahmed Suale was murdered five years ago. A lack of progress report on the investigations had persuaded MPs in Ghana’s parliament, to demand an update and it was in response to this that the AG had appeared before the lawmakers.

 “On being appointed Attorney General, the former Inspector General of Police [James] Oppong-Boanuh paid a courtesy call on me on March 29, 2021, for being concerned about the failure to resolve this case and other cases.

“I inquired about the state of investigations into the matter and demanded a report on the case and the director general of CID obliged,” Godfred Dame said during his appearance.

It is troubling because the parts of the Attorney General’s statement about his discussion with the former IGP, came across as rehearsed. This is the second time the Attorney General has made these same pronouncements before the august House in response to the lack of prosecution on the Suale murder case. The first was on July 27, 2021, when he was giving an update on the killing of the investigative journalist and other high-profile killings, including those of Ekow Hayford and J. B. Danquah Adu, former MPs for Mfantseman and Abuakwa North, respectively. Mr. Dame told Parliament at that time that his office had received no docket on the Ahmed Suale case and that he had raised the issue with the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) when the latter had paid a courtesy call on him on March 29, 2021.

“Being concerned about the failure to resolve this and other homicide cases, I enquired about the state of investigations into the same. I emphasised to the IGP and his team the need to conclude investigations for action to be taken as soon as practically possible,” he had said.

The presentation of this recycled information in 2024, raises suspicion that since the 2021 meeting with the IGP, the AG has been sleeping on the Suale case but was suddenly jolted by the demand for an update by the MPs. And then, Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame scrambled and went off to rehearse his 2021 statement for Parliament once more.

In a seeming attempt to placate MPs over the lack of prosecution, the AG asked for more patience, likening the delay around the Suale case to the about the 29 years that the murder of American rapper, Tupac Shakur, had remained unsolved since his shooting in 2006 until 2023.

Meanwhile, as if the delayed justice is not disheartening enough, the principal legal officer of the state went on to suggest that the killing of Suale may be unconnected to his journalism work. This amounts to beating the media and denying them the right to cry, given the well-documented events leading to the attack on Ahmed Suale.

“The killing of Suale on the heels of the Number 12 football corruption expose and following a campaign inciting the public to attack the journalist establish solid prima facie grounds to link the murder to his work. Whoever claims otherwise must prove the contrary,” said Muheeb Saeed, Head of Freedom of Expression at the MFWA.

Mr. Dame’s attempt to disconnect Ahmed Suale’s killing from his work contrasts starkly with the world’s reaction to the killing of renowned Dutch journalist, Peter R. de Vries.

For instance, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, commended the crime reporter’s “relentless commitment to the profession, and eagerness to unveil the truth”, adding “I trust that the authorities will bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice, to show that neither the right to free expression nor the course of justice can be obstructed through violence.”

The AG’s revelation that there is no prosecutable docket only undermines the confidence of the media and the public in President Akufo-Addo to deliver justice in this matter before he leaves office, as he promised a little over a year ago.

“I continue to be deeply regretful that despite the unceasing best effort of the police, the perpetrators of the murder of Ahmed Suale can still not be found. But I assure you that, so far as I remain President, the dossier cannot be closed until they are brought to justice,” the President had said during the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA’s) dinner on December 21, 2022.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is highly disappointed in the Attorney-General’s empty update before Parliament. This recycled presentation demonstrates a flagrant indifference to the case and we wholly deplore it.

The MFWA also reiterates it disappointment with the inability of the police and the state security apparatus to provide evidence of any serious work towards tracking down the murderers of Ahmed Suale. As a nation, we may have been taken unawares by the criminals who perpetrated the murder, but if that can be excused, there is no excuse for lack of action to ensure redress and, thereby, redeem ourselves. We therefore urge Parliament to continue to exert pressure on the government to act on this matter. We also herby call on all media stakeholders to convene a meeting to explore all avenues that could help end impunity over the murder of Ahmed Suale.

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