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Humans · Economy

The undercover Ghanaian journalist who names, shames and jails

January 09th, 2018
in:Humans, Economy
by:Bob Koigi
located in:Ghana
tags:Accra, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, child prostitution, child trafficking, corruption, Heroes Acting to End Modern- Day Slavery Award, Investigative journalism

For a country that prides itself as a bastion of democracy and rule of law, news of systemic corruption and thinning media freedom space in Ghana has put a damper on that enviable standing.

But one journalist is righting the wrongs and pushing the authorities into accountability with his brazen covert practices. His tools of trade besides a book and pen include tiny cameras, prosthetic masks and an array of wigs.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Africa’s most daring investigative journalist whose face has remained a mystery for over a decade since he began his investigative reportage, has posed as a mad man, a taxi driver, a waiter and even acted as a rock, to expose some of the most high profiled crimes including cocoa smuggling, child trafficking and police brutality. His work, whose impact has been felt across Sub Saharan Africa, revolves around his philosophy of name, shame and jail. “Journalism is about results. It's about affecting your community or your society in the most progressive way. I have worked on this for over 14 years, and I can tell you, the results are very good,” he said while giving a presentation at Ted Talks.

The journalist cum lawyer drew the inspiration to tackle society’s rot while living in the army barracks with his father. He witnessed army officers beating taxi drivers who had dropped them at the barracks and refusing to pay them. He was irked at the height of the impunity and the mistreatment of helpless citizens.

Running his independent investigative media outfit, Tiger Eye, Anas has sneaked into the most unlikely places disguised as personalities that fit the occasion or place and then leaves with an explosive story that gets heads rolling.

In one of his investigations, he walked into Accra Psychiatric Hospital and feigned madness. He would be booked in as a mental patient. All along he gathered information on the abuse of the patient and corruption at the largest psychiatric institution in the country. None of the nurses or doctors suspected him and he would later release a piece on his experience he dubbed Inside Ghana’s Madhouse.

In another investigation, he posed as a janitor at a brothel as he tried to expose child prostitution. He would change bed sheets, pick used condoms and mop floor as he followed a story that would later lead to numerous arrests. Disguising himself as a waiter in a high end hotel and rocking a tuxedo, he would trail a Chinese sex traffickers’ racket that he exposed leading to the sentencing of the traffickers for a combined 41 years in prison.

But perhaps the most earth shattering of Ana’s expose has been in the judiciary where he sought to unearth the entrenched corruption and rot perpetuated by high court judges and court officials in a documentary named ‘Ghana in the eyes of God’. For two years he clandestinely filmed 34 judges taking bribes in form of money and in some instances goat to give favourable rulings. He would pretend to be a relative or friend of the accused and would accompany the accused while enticing the judges to accept bribes. Despite numerous hurdles trying to get the documentary to the public which included court summons, it was later released causing an unprecedented nationwide outcry and a dented confidence in what had traditionally been the most trusted arm of government. Some judges were fired as a result.

“My kind of journalism might not fit in other continents or other countries, but I can tell you, it works in my part of the continent of Africa, because usually, when people talk about corruption, they ask, "Where is the evidence? Show me the evidence." I say, "This is the evidence." And that has aided in me putting a lot of people behind bars,” he further told the audience.

His latest project is an investigative piece he says will be the biggest in his entire career which he says touches on 60 people that have done the greatest evil to the state. He is yet to release it.

The World has not been blind to his achievements. When President Obama picked Ghana as the first country he would visit in his maiden trip to Sub Saharan Africa in 2009, he praised Anas’ work, lauding his bold resolve to tell the truth by risking his life.

The US State Department conferred on him the Heroes Acting to End Modern- Day Slavery Award for his Chinese sex trafficking racket and child prostitution reports. He is also the recipient of the Kurt Schork Award in what they describe as, “journalism that has brought about real change for the better.” A committee comprising of Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter have also feted him with the Every Human Has Rights Media Award.

And as his investigations continue being felt beyond Ghana, Anes hopes his work besides exposing the societal ills will inspire a new generation of young ones that embraces good over evil.

Article written by:
Bob Koigi
Author, Contributing Editor
Current Map: Our coverage
Embed from Getty Images
Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Africa’s most daring investigative journalist whose face has remained a mystery for over a decade since he began his investigative reportage, has posed as a mad man, a taxi driver, a waiter and even acted as a rock, to expose some of the most high profiled crimes including cocoa smuggling, child trafficking and police brutality.
Embed from Getty Images
“Journalism is about results. It's about affecting your community or your society in the most progressive way."
Embed from Getty Images
Running his independent investigative media outfit, Tiger Eye, Anas has sneaked into the most unlikely places disguised as personalities that fit the occasion or place and then leaves with an explosive story that gets heads rolling.

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