Ghanaian undercover journalist Ahmed Divela Hussein-Suale was shot and killed in Madina, a suburb of Ghana’s capital Accra, on Wednesday night.
Hussein-Suale was a leading member of Tiger Eye Private Investigations, a firm established by award-winning Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
According to an eye witness, two unknown gunmen ambushed Hussein’s vehicle while on his drive home around 10:30pm and shot him at close range through his car window. “People around the scene initially thought the shots were sounds from firecrackers,” an eye witness told AIPS Media. “Until they got closer and found out the driver had been shot by the two men on the bike.”
According to officials of Tiger Eye, Hussein-Suale was hit twice on the chest and once in the neck, dying on the spot.
The eye witness added that the locals claimed the gunmen had been suspiciously hanging around the vicinity the entire day leading up to the attack.
A close associate of Anas, Hussein Suale was a key architect in an investigation named “Number 12: When greed and misconduct become the norm”, which aired in June last year and exposed widespread corruption within football in Ghana and across Africa.
The sting, co-produced with the BBC, saw many referees in Ghana and across Africa given various degrees of bans and suspensions. However, the high profile casualty was Kwesi Nyantakyi, former Ghana Football Association President, CAF Vice President and FIFA Executive Council member, who was filmed on tape allegedly taking a cash gift of $65,000 from Anas’ undercover agents.
Nyantakyi has since been given a lifetime ban from all football related activities by FIFA, for violating the world football governing body’s ethics codes of “Bribery and Corruption, Conflict of Interest and Commission”.
According to Samuel Darko, a member of Tiger Eye’s legal team, Hussein-Suale “was the main brain behind the Number 12 investigations. He was the one who investigated (Kwesi) Nyantakyi himself.”
Seven months since the investigation, football in the West African nation is yet to recover from its impact. FIFA instituted a Normalization Committee in September following the virtual collapse of the Ghana Football Association.
Hussein-Suale is survived by a wife and a daughter.
The news of his killing trended on social media in Ghana on Thursday, with the hashtag #JournalismIsNotACrime featuring prominently.
“I condemn the act unreservedly, and extend my condolences to his family,” said Nana Akufo Addo, President of Ghana, in a statement. “I expect the police to bring to book, as soon as possible, the perpetrators of this heinous crime.”
“This is not an attack on Ahmed. This is not an attack on Tiger PI. It’s an attack on the very foundation of our republic. It’s an attack on the constitution that granted us free speech and the freedom to hold public officials and others accountable to the people of Ghana. The state must not take this lightly,” said prominent Ghanaian Investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni.
Anas, meanwhile, simply tweeted: “Sad news, but we shall not be silenced.”
Accompanying the post was a video of Ghanaian Member of Parliament Kennedy Agyapong, known to be a staunch critic of Anas and his journalism methods (including the wearing of facial masks for protection). Mr Agyapong, in the video, is seen revealing pictures and residential information of Hussein-Suale on national television while asking the public to attack him.
“This boy is called Ahmed. He lives here in Madina,” Agyapong is heard saying, over images of Hussein-Suale. The video is sourced from NET 2 Television, located in Madina and owned by Mr Agyapong. “When he (Hussein-Suale) comes to our (NET 2) premises, beat him up. I will pay for the cost of his beating.”
The video, believed to have been recorded months ago in the wake of the investigation, drew widespread criticism for blowing the cover of the hitherto low profile-keeping Hussein-Suale, exposing him to harm.
“Kennedy Agyapong put the young man’s picture on TV and invited people to beat him up. A few months later, he is killed. Someone must be questioned!” Kissi Agyabeng, lawyer for Anas, fumed in an interview with Accra-based Joy FM on Thursday.
However, Mr Agyapong, in an interview with Neat FM also on Thursday, denied knowledge of the killing. “This boy is irrelevant to my life. Why would I be stupid and order people to kill him looking at how far God has brought me?” he is quoted to have said. “He has not offended me in anyway. They should look for those who may be behind this heinous act. This is just cheap propaganda.”
Jon Ossof, whose firm Insight TWI works closely with Anas’ Tiger Eye, tweeted: “Ahmed was a committed and courageous colleague, instrumental in this year’s Anas investigation of international soccer corruption, after which he was viciously doxxed & threatened.”
“The apparent murder of journalist Ahmed Divela is chilling. Ghana is recognized by many, including me, as a vibrant, strong democracy and an example for the continent in many ways,” said Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director of Vanguard Africa. “That this happened in Accra is a bad omen and more evidence that journalism is under severe attack.”
Investigative journalist Darius Barazagan, who worked with Anas and Hussein-Suale in a BBC investigation into ritual killings in Malawi last year, tweeted: “They killed my friend – 11 months to the day that we all survived near death in Malawi. God Bless You, Ahmed #JournalismIsNotACrime.”
According to the International Press Institute (IPI)’s ‘Death Watch’, Hussein-Suale is the latest in a long line of journalists in Africa to have died in connection to their work. There were six (6) alone in 2018.
“The brutal murder of Hussein-Suale underscores the grave danger that journalists, especially those who tackle corruption and abuse of power, face in their line of work,” IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “The government of Ghana must swiftly investigate this crime and bring the killers to justice.”
The New-York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), advocates of press freedom worldwide, said: “Authorities in Ghana should immediately investigate the killing of journalist Ahmed Divela and ensure that threats against the press are taken seriously.”