By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

It is not clear to me whether the gunman who visited the Ringway Gospel Assemblies of God Church exactly one day short of thirty years since I happily departed the shores of Ghana intended to do any harm to anybody (See “Man With Fully Loaded Gun Arrested In Mahama’s Church” TV3Network.com 7/26/15). Historically, professional killers have not been known to be this timid. First of all, if he had been looking to unload his “heat” on President John Dramani Mahama, he would have closely followed the movements of the president to make certain not to miss his target. Then also, he might have deftly attempted to “silence” the woman who allegedly spotted the gunman reaching for the pistol in his pocket.

The gunman would also not have acted in the convulsively agitated manner reported by the media. Instead, he would have walked into the church with confident deliberation and clinically gone about his mission, fully knowing he would not escape with his life whether he succeeded or not. This, of course, is not to imply that the anonymous gunman had no deadly purpose on his mind when he entered the Ringway Gospel Assemblies of God Church last Sunday, July 26, with a loaded handgun or pistol. You see, nobody enters a room or chapel full of worshippers with a loaded gun looking for pigeons to waste. Nevertheless, the fact that President Mahama and Chief Justice Georgina Wood, among other distinguished Ghanaian public figures, are known to be regular members and worshippers of the Ringway Gospel Assemblies of Church may well be circumstantial.

At the worst, at least at this juncture, all that can be surmised about the gunman is that he was likely in search of some media spotlight, publicity and/or notoriety. I am also, of course, not ruling out the likelihood of some National Democratic Congress operatives’ having planted the alleged gunman as a strategy for garnering cheap sympathy stunt for an increasingly desperate President Mahama. As of this writing, not much was known about the alleged gunman, besides the rather vague fact that he was believed to be in his 30s. It is, of course, likely that the public may get to learn more details about the alleged gunman. At this very early stage in police investigations – assuming that the police, in fact, decide to investigate the case – we cannot label him a criminal suspect, for he has yet to be charged with any crime. Neither has any forensically sustainable motive been attributed to him.

We are also told that “unconfirmed reports say that the gun was unregistered.” I can on the latter count bet without any fear of contradiction that there are a lot of people walking the dusty streets of Accra, and other big towns and cities, with unregistered or unlicensed guns. Otherwise, how does one account for the high spate of gun-related violence in the country these days? Still, it is important to question the level of security at the Ringway Gospel of Assemblies of God Church, knowing fully well that at least two of the four or five most powerful personalities in the country call this place their sanctuary. I am personally not surprised by this alleged incident, inasmuch as the safety of the President of Ghana, the Chief Justice and their peers and associates ought to be of concern to all Ghanaians and, in particular, the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mark Owen Woyongo.

I am, however, not the least bit surprised that this near-tragic incident happened under the watch of Mr. Woyongo, a man who has amply proven himself to be an impenitent Social Darwinist, who believes the most logical and effective response to violence is more violence and mayhem. The latter observation is, of course, in reference to Mr. Woyongo’s riposte to those of his critics who expected the former Upper-East’s regional minister to have done more to check the morbidly high spate of violence that attended the July 7 Talensi by-election.

We are told that the gunman acted in a “jittery” manner during the sermon delivered by the unnamed pastor of the Ringway Gospel Assemblies of God Church. The man must have heard and learned quite a bit that was meaningful and instructive to him for him to have paused and thought over whatever sinister intentions and/or purpose he had or his gun must have been telling him that particular Sunday morning. If so, then other than the woman congregation member who allegedly spotted the thirty-something-year-old man reach his pocket for his gun and quickly raised an alarm, the Mahama clan and Chief Justice Wood and the rest of the congregation have their pastor and divine providence to thank for their good luck.

I would also not be surprised if the gunman was in a bid to copycatting the Neo-Nazi South Carolina gunman who took the lives of some nine, or so, African-American clerics and congregants recently. Ghanaians, as many of us know quite well, are globally renowned for being great copycats, often of the worst habits of our erstwhile European colonial overlords. I hope this gunman’s allegedly suspicious behavior was not one of such insipid copycat examples.

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
E-mail: [email protected]

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