Captain Mahama's demise and the rule of law

Captain Mahama's demise and the rule of law

- YEN looks into the role of social media in the “Captain Mahama”saga

- Why the circumstances surrounding his death has generated a lot of talk

- How Ghana can re position itself as a bastion of peace, in the light of this incident

The news of the untimely death of Captain Maxwell Mahama has captured the attention of people all over the world. YEN’s author Michael N.A Hammond has assessed the incident and raises an opinion or two about its effect on a number of related issues.

Captain Mahama’s demise and matters arising…a test of Ghana’s rule of law

The late Captain Mahama with his family

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Monday 29th May 2017 may forever be etched in the minds of many Ghanaians as the day the life of a young military captain, Captain Maxwell Mahama was brought to an end. The furor over the grisly manner in which he was killed has attracted attention, both inland and overseas.

Several Ghanaians received various media files purportedly obtained from the scene of the crime, and when they (the files) travelled far and wide, primarily on social media, the government, through the Ministry of Communications released a notification to the effect that measures have been put in place to block the transfer of the files, and consequently making the sharing of same an offence punishable by law.

The aura of rumours and perceptions surrounding the event tends to stimulate a myriad of questions such as:

1. How beneficial or otherwise is the role of social media with regard to this incident?

2. How different is this instance, when juxtaposed with other such acts in the past?

3. How does this act affect Ghana’s reputation, especially abroad?

Without a shred of doubt, social media played a key role, especially in the dissemination of the details of the act. A video, reportedly taken of the act, by a woman, played the dual role of revealing the reality of the killing, and assisting in the apprehension of those involved. In a message allegedly released by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), and circulated via same social media, the Director – General of the CID, DCOP Bright Oduro outlined the facts of the matter.

Read also: Man who delivered "final blow" to Capt. Mahama arrested

According to him, the deceased Captain’s core mandate in the Central Region was to play a role in the attempt to clamp down illegal mining in the area. He was attacked by people in the area, when he went out for jogging one morning, dressed in mufti, but carrying a side arm. Citizens of the area, who mistook him for an armed robber, jumped on him and consequently killed him. All attempts by him to either explain the presence of the side arm or possibly escape proved futile. As a result, some people have been arrested and are assisting with investigations.

The late Captain Mahama is certainly not the first to meet such a fate; he may not be the last either. This unexpected action comes at a time when both “illegal mining” and “instant justice” have become catch phrases in the last decade, if not even further into the past.

Water bodies in a number of regions of Ghana have been polluted as a result of several acts of illegal mining. This led to a “Stop Galamsey Now” campaign earlier this year. Mention has been made of the effects of this practice on flora and water bodies.

Instant justice, or mob justice, is usually prevalent in settings in which people, who have lost faith in the criminal justice system, mete out their preferred form of punishment on people allegedly caught in the conduct of illegal activities.

This does not augur well for the nation, as it often indicate a sense of lawlessness. Ghana is a country guided by the 1992 Constitution, as well as other time – tested statutes. Security agencies such as the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Armed Forces are, by law, expected to protect the nation and its citizens home and abroad respectively.

It is heartwarming to hear that a number of people have been arrested in relation to the crime. The laws must work, the guilty should be punished. No one is above the law.

Have an opinion to share on the story of Captain Mahama? Send your stories to or visit our Facebook page.

Source: Yen

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