“Some people sing Anas’s praises to high heavens; others condemn his acts beyond measure.” – Africanus Owusu Ansah. (See his article titled THE ANAS’S JUDICIAL CORRUPTION FINDINGS. Daily Guide, Thursday, September 17, 2015. P.20)
We do not need any research findings to tell us, as stated by my Vandal Mate, Lawyer Africanus Owusu Ansah, that Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas, lawyer and investigative journalist, must be the most celebrated and most vilified citizen of Ghana today.
Of course, as is already known, this is not his first exposé as an investigative journalist. At least, since 1999, he has scored what I have had occasion to describe as “spectacular investigative coups in even more spectacular ways.” (See my article titled, “The Anas Controversy” and published in “The Chronicle” of Monday, February 14, 2011. P. 5).
I wrote in that article: “Risking his life, and other various disguises, the exposés by Mr. Anas have included the use of maggot or weevil-infested flour by a foreign company to manufacture biscuits in the country.
“He has broken up a Chinese prostitution ring in Accra. He has gone on a trip to Thailand to expose the inhuman conditions in which Ghanaians and other prisoners were serving their sentences.
“At one time, he posed as a prince to investigate matters that threatened our very national security. Risking death, and, possibly, his manhood, Mr. Anas became a ‘patient’ at our premier psychiatric hospital and revealed the poor conditions there.
“Can I leave out his investigation of the Osu Children’s Home, in which he proved that the ‘white’ outside of the Home hid a rotten interior?
“Then there were the exposés at the Elubo border of the Western Region, in the matter of the massive smuggling of cocoa to the Ivory Coast.”
As a result of the exploits, it came as no surprise that he, together with a policewoman, had honourable recognition and mention by no less a person than President Barrack Obama of the United States of America when he visited Ghana not too long after his inauguration as President.
Perhaps, what has set most Ghanaian and foreign tongues wagging is his latest work, in which some judges (from Magistrate to High Court), some other members of the Judicial Service, and others in the security services have allegedly been caught on tape haggling over and taking bribes to pervert the course of justice.
Borrowing an expression from the Bench and the Bar, let me say that I have taken “Judicial Notice” of the raging controversy over Anas’ latest investigation of the Judiciary, and have judiciously tried to steer clear away from it “until the final determination of the case.”
Whatever comment I make is peripheral, as Anas is the focus of this article.
Is Anas a hero? He obviously is to many people, especially those who kick against corruption, plain stealing, embezzlement, bribery, fraud and other crimes that drain the nation of its financial and material resources.
As a result of his previous investigations, a number of people have gone to jail, according to Mr. Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, Editor-in-Chief of the “New Crusading Guide”, a paper Mr. Anas has been associated with as a member of the editorial staff.
Pro-Anas people see him as a selfless, patriotic and courageous crusader, helping to uproot crimes from the society. They would like to see him continue. They justify his methods as necessary for the evils he fights against through exposés.
Is Anas a villain? Obviously, he is to those people whose public reputations his exposés have shredded, or those who have gone to jail or suffered some kind of deprivation as a result. To such people, their relations, friends and associates, perhaps, nothing will bring them greater comfort than to see him dead or undergoing some misfortune.
Some critics, not necessarily hating Anas, have, with the best of intentions, questioned his methods of getting information or evidence.
They say it is not ethical, that it is not journalism, but criminal investigation, or that it is entrapment.
All over the world, but especially in authoritarian countries, journalism ranks as one of the dangerous professions in which practitioners suffer imprisonment without trial, torture, and even
mysterious and unexplained deaths.
The journalist who chooses investigative journalism literally lays his life on the line. Governments, bosses of organised crime and other persons hate him and are prepared to go to any length to silence him by offering him big bribes, making life hard for him or even murdering
him. So, with all the dangers associated with investigative journalism, why has Anas chosen that branch of journalism?
That is the first question I would like to ask him if I should ever meet him. Is it money? Is it the fame he has achieved? Is he moved by a character trait that draws him to danger and make him relish the prospect of meeting that danger?
The irony of his situation is that, while he has managed to keep his identity hidden from the view of many people, his very disguise easily marks him out from the crowd.
Another piece of irony is that, far from being the hero who should freely walk down the street and acknowledge cheers from his admirers, he is more like the fugitive from justice trying to avoid the long arm of the law.
On a day-to-day basis, how does Anas live his life? How did he go through law school? Is he married? Does he have a child or children?
Are his parents alive? Does he really enjoy life with the kind of ‘cloak-and-dagger existence he apparently finds himself in?
What is my greatest wish about Anas Aremeyaw Anas? Of course, to meet him and ask him all those questions. Hero or villain, you cannot ignore him.