Ghana’s fearless investigative journalist is not afraid to stir up trouble
Anas Aremeyaw Anas is an undercover journalist who specializes in print media and documentaries. Working both on his own and in collaboration with other news agencies and journalists, he has successfully ensured that corrupt acts and practices are exposed in Ghana and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. more recently, he has been in the news for exposing corruption in Ghana’s judiciary. As a result of this, lawsuits and petitions are being thrown at him as the judges involved are being called into accountability.
This is an in-depth look into the investigative journalist, his work and his achievements so far
The Man behind it all
For an African journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas goes about his business in a very unconventional manner. While his name may not ring a bell in the minds of the average African, he has broken some of the biggest stories in Ghana and is responsible for a lot of convictions for various crimes in all spheres of Government.
Anas is an investigative journalist who takes his work very seriously; so seriously, that sometimes it is wondered if he has any regard for his own life. He has been referred to as Africa’s most feared and famous sting artist. His life and work is dependent on his power of maintaining anonymity.
Aptly nicknamed ‘Chameleon’, Anas’ modus operandi is achieved through numerous disguises. Over the course of his career, he has masqueraded as a bartender, someone admitted into Accra’s Psychiatric Hospital, posed as a Crown Prince, pretended to be a trader dealing in contraband, and once posed as a madman on the streets to gain information. His work is no different from that of an agent provocateur and he takes immense pride in his achievements, reflected in his “Name, Shame and Jail’ mantra. Anas keeps a low profile, and very few people have actually seen his face.
Anas reportedly grew up in a military barracks in Ghana and attended the University of Ghana. He turned down a job offer with the Ghanaian Times Newspaper, instead choosing to work with the Crusading Guide newspaper in 1998.
Anas has been referred to as the James Bond of Ghanaian journalism and he is a frontrunner in the fight against corruption and human rights violation. It is perhaps his relentless pursuit of criminals and corrupt public officials around the continent, that has undoubtedly created enemies for him, driving his anonymity.
Although Anas began as a private detective and undercover reporter, he has since been employed by the Ghanaian President and Al Jazeera. His training as an attorney gives him an appreciation of the legal dynamics of his work. Anas focuses on issues of human rights and anti-corruption in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa. So far, he has spearheaded undercover investigations to expose the Tanzanian trade in albino limbs, contract killing of disabled children in northern Ghana, high-level corruption in Sierra Leone, the counterfeit gold trade in West Africa, and money laundering in the Seychelles.
In 2014, a documentary which followed the life and work of Anas Aremeyaw Anas was made. The documentary, which was titled Chameleon, chronicled the achievements of this unusual journalist. He successfully exposed a sex trafficking ring, bypassed a rebel checkpoint, uncovered deplorable conditions in Accra’s Psychiatric Hospital. His anonymity has granted him unrestricted access to some of Ghana’s worst corruption deals. The documentary also revealed the challenges he faced working undercover, especially in a society such as Ghana’s.
Anas works mostly as a multimedia journalist who specializes in print media and documentaries and in 2013, Anas gave a TED Talk (throughout which his face remains hidden), titled, “How I Named, Shamed, and Jailed”.
In January 2010, Anas got himself admitted into Ghana’s biggest psychiatric hospital and exposed human rights abuses against patients. This exposure won him critical acclaim for upholding the right to human dignity and fighting for the right to a decent standard of living for the sick or ill. In April, he exposed cocoa smugglers and in September workers in Ghana’s biggest state-run orphanage and exposed corruption and abuse of the children in the institution.
In 2011, he exposed fraud and corruption at one of Ghana’s key harbours – the Tema Harbour and worked with Aljazeera to investigate atrocities in Sierra Leone, illegal gold mining in Ghana, and abuse against albino Africans in Tanzania.
In 2012, he exposed corruption in Ghana’s power and agricultural sectors. Later in the year, he took on a daring project to reveal how gullible customers can be by pretending to be an abortion doctor who had sex with his female clients.
In 2013, he worked with Al Jazeera again on a film showing how African businesses cheat their governments out of money and also exposed the cruel sacrifices of children believed to bring ill luck in Northern Ghana. He exposed abuse against women and children in various situations.
He broke the Chinese Sex Mafia story and testified in court against the traffickers and exposed the corrupt acts of Ghana’s road safety authorities, including the Ghana Police. He exposed fake doctors in Nigeria and spearheaded the prosecution of fake doctors who use beer parlours as operating theatres.
In what is perhaps Anas’ biggest break, he is at the root of the recently broken Ghana Judiciary Scandal, where he went undercover to expose corruption within the Ghanaian Judiciary sector and successfully leading to the suspension of over 20 judges.
Anas has been widely recognized for his work in upholding the dignity of individuals and fundamental human rights. President Obama highlighted his virtues in one of his speeches and dubbed him “a courageous journalist…who risked his life to report the truth”.
He has participated in the successful prosecution of offenders, including the fetish priests who sacrificed the children in Northern Ghana. He has also won over fourteen international awards for his investigative work. He was polled as the 5th most influential Ghanaian in 2011 and named one of the “Most Influential Africans of the Year “by the New African Magazine.
It is hoped that Anas’ life and work will inspire journalists and citizens all over the world to have the courage needed to speak the truth.
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