On Saturday October 10,2015, news broke that a member of Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ Tiger Eye PI team was kidnapped in the Northern Regional Capital of Tamale. About thirty minutes later, it was again reported that the police had embarked on a swift operation and rescued him.
The name of the kidnapped team member was given as Ishmael Hussein. He is said to have worked with the Tiger Eye team that uncovered the shocking acts of corruption in the judiciary.
The Northern Regional Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Police Service, ASP Ebenezer Tetteh, confirmed the kidnap and the rescue to Joy FM and said one person had been arrested in the process. The police said Hussein was rescued in a shop in the Central Business District of Tamale. The police said he had been moved from a house where he was first kept, before being taken to a fitting shop and then to the shop, where he was found.
Shortly after the news I [Manasseh Azure Awuni] received a call from someone in Tamale that suggested that Hussein was confronted and harassed but not kidnapped as was reported. He said where the incident happened was near Hussein’s house and his family knew where he was.
Joy FM’s Northern Regional Correspondent, Martina Bugri, visited the shop where Hussein was said to have been kept. When she got to the shop, I requested to speak to the owner of the shop.
The man did not want to be named but he said he knew a lot about the incident and the reason Hussein had been brought to the shop.
He said he was a friend to a mechanic who had been servicing the vehicle of a retired high court judge in Tamale. The shop owner said he and the mechanic were mutual friends of the judge.
He said somewhere last year (he could not be specific), a young man was imprisoned for a sex offence by a magistrate court and the family had appealed. In the process of the appeal, he said some members of the accused family met the judge who presided over the appeal in his chambers.
He said Hussein’s sister is married to a man from the family of the accused person so Hussein “goes to that house to eat. He is like a family member,” he told me. He said because of Hussein’s closeness to the family, he went with them to see the judge. He said the family of the accused did not send any bribe to the judge when they went to see him.
“Why did the family go to see the judge,” I asked him.
“For that I don’t know,” he told me.
He said when the judiciary corruption scandal broke and the said judge was implicated and their case was cited, all those who were part of the team that went to see the judge stood accused. Each one of them denied ever recording the judge and sending the pictures to Tiger Eye.
According to the shop owner, the only one who was nowhere to be found was Hussein when the scandal broke. The police said he was moving in and out of Tamale for the fear of being harmed.
The shop owner said when Hussein was spotted in the family house in Tamale on Saturday, some young men confronted him and he confessed giving the money to the judge and recording him. The shop owner said Hussein admitted seeing the judge alone after the group had met him.
When I asked him where the family house was in Tamale, he said it was in the Tamale Polytechnic area, the outskirts of Tamale.
“Why was he found in your shop,” I asked him.
He said he (the shop owner) had accused his mechanic friend of putting their friend (the judge) in trouble so when Hussein said he was the one who recorded him, the mechanic and the rest felt vindicated and called him to come and find out the truth himself.
“I told him that even if I come, I have nothing to ask him because the incident had already happened,” he told me. “It was then that they said they were bringing him (Hussein) to my shop.
“How did they get to your shop? Were they on a motor bike or a car or something?” I asked him.
“I do not know. They walked into the shop.”
He said Hussein was the one who walked into the shop first and he offered him a plastic chair. One followed him into the shop but the rest were outside.
He said while Hussein was telling him and one of his alleged kidnappers what had happened, his mobile phone rang and he (Hussein) was heard directing the caller to the shop.
“The person did not seem to be getting the direction so he (Hussein) went out to the junction and brought them. It was then that we realized it was the police he was bringing,” the shop owner said.
ASP Ebenezer Tetteh has confirmed that Hussein was reached through his phone.
When I asked about earlier accounts that Hussein’s phone was seized and switched off during his kidnap, ASP Ebenezer Tetteh said the phone was earlier seized but his kidnappers later gave it back to him.
The shop owner said the shop was open and while Hussein was there, customers were getting in and out of the shop. He said when he heard about the kidnapping story, he was surprised.
When I asked ASP Ebenezer Tetteh whether a person who was kidnapped would be allowed to make phone calls and direct people to where he was and even go out to meet them (the police), ASP Ebenezer Tetteh replied that with kidnapping, where and how one is kept is not the main issue. He said what matters is the restriction of the person’s movement.
Hussein has told Joy FM in an exclusive interview that the kidnappers did not beat him or manhandle him. He said they threatened him, but he would not reveal the contents of the threats. The shop owner said there was no intention to hurt him. He said the people who confronted him wanted to know why he did what he did.
Who masterminded the kidnap?
ASP Ebenezer Tetteh says, so far, there is no evidence linking the judge implicated in the judicial scandal to the kidnapping incident. He said the people who held Hussein were not happy he (Hussein) had put their friend (the judge) in trouble but there “is nothing to suggest that they were acting on the instruction of the judge. There is no evidence linking the judge to what has happened. But it has something to do with the judicial scandal.”
The shop owner has denied reports that the judge is his relative. He said the judge is only a friend.
When I put this to ASP Ebenezer Tetteh, whose earlier interview with Joy FM suggested that the shop owner was the judge’s relative, he said, “relationship can either be by blood or friendship.”
Information picked up by manassehazure.com indicates the suspect picked up by the police in connection with the kidnapping is likely to be put before the court on Monday and charged with kidnapping among others.