The work of ace investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas has always been a dangerous one; his methodology has helped in blowing the cover of the ‘bad’ people in the society.
Like his mantra ‘name, shame and jail’, Anas always goes to the extent of making sure that the bad guys are named and shamed in his documentaries and eventually jailed.
Ghanaians always get to know the end product to his undercover investigations but what actually goes into the work, nobody knows.
Speaking at the 3rd Africa Leadership Conference dubbed ‘Africa Rising 3’ Anas Aremeyaw Anas revealed that his manhood didn’t work for a while after his investigations “Inside Ghana’s Madhouse”.
He reported that patient’s at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital are physically abused and neglected by the staff of the hospital.
According to him when he went into the madhouse, he was sedated and he didn’t know the number of days he slept but he woke up very tired with body pains.
“Things were just not working right,” he said.
As difficult as the investigations may be, Anas indicated that he requested to be taken out of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, to be treated elsewhere in order to get the energy required for the investigations to continue.
“Today I will rethink it. I think it was a bit too risky because when I came out, not all parts of my body was working as I was expecting them to work due to the drugs that were injected into his body” he said.
“I came and things were not functioning. This is just a story and I didn’t mean to seize work,” he added.
After taking some tablets prescribed by Prof Alex Dodoo, Anas stated that his “Africa started rising again.”
Background to Inside the Madhouse
Anas through his investigations posed as a patient being admitted at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital; he revealed that the staff of the hospital buy cocaine and cannabis for patients and steal the food meant for them to sell at the open market.
Anas in his seven months undercover investigations posed as a patient, a trader, a baker and a taxi driver. He managed to put together a catalog of hardcore video, audio and still pictorial evidence of both daylight pilfering and midnight stealing by the hospital staff; of the appalling living conditions at the hospital and of regular use and sale of narcotic drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and heroin among patients and staff of the hospital.
Admitted for three weeks at the hospital under the name Musa Akolgo, alias ‘Don Dada’ at the BHC Male Ward with folder number 61919, Anas got first-hand, face-to-face observation of the several cases of human rights abuses and neglect of patients by nurses, the brisk trade in narcotic drugs, and an ever-growing incidence of alcohol sale and use by the patients; all of which were captured with a hidden camera.
On a daily basis, the staff of the hospital steal food meant for patients not only for their personal consumption, but also for sale to the unsuspecting and, sometimes, colluding public. It is brisk, cash-and-carry business: private individuals can obtain food items like beans, rice, flour and sugar at discounted prices from the shameless kitchen staff of the hospital. Psychotic drugs such as Largactil and other sedatives are equally available for sale to the public.
Drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin virtually litter the wards of the facility for easier picking than the notorious alleys and corners of Tudu or Sodom and Gomorrah in Accra. As a patient of this place, this reporter and his colleagues in BHC Male Ward had very little trouble getting cannabis, heroin and “coke” (cocaine), whether the rock or Thai type. For a little daily tip, some of the workers would run errands buying these hard drugs for the patients.
The operation of drug peddlers within the Psychiatric hospital is an open secret among staff and patients. Well-known distribution outlets in Tudu, Sahara and Accra Newtown see and use the Psychiatric hospital as a major hub for local drug distribution.
Speaking to Anas, ‘Clean Face’, a drug dealer who plies his trade at the hospital revealed that patients at the hospital form the core of his customer base.
“Before they got admitted into the hospital, I was supplying them with these same drugs so what I am doing now is take the market closer to the clients.” ‘Clean Face’ moves to various drug joints in Accra to put together enough stock for patients at the hospital. When asked why he would not allow patients to undergo their rehabilitation without narcotic drugs, he retorted scornfully, “Who told you they don’t need it after they go mad? If I don’t look for them and sell it to them, how do I make my money? I do not neglect my customer, especially patients in Pantang, where I have my main customers.”
It is also common to see hospital staff leave both personal and professional duties in the hands of patients. Many of these patients are made to carry buckets of water to the living quarters of resident staff. Others are often made to perform the duties of kitchen matrons as well as other chores unconnected to the hospital. Patients can be seen cooking, cleaning, washing and even doing work that nurses were supposed to do.
One video recording shows a patient who consistently sits on the garbage dump to eat, picking rotten materials and scraps from litter bins and after that dashing straight into the kitchen to help the staff to cook.
One morning, this reporter followed the patient equipped with a hidden camera, as he headed for the garbage heap to play and pick rotten and maggot- infested waste with his bare hands. Minutes later, he heads for the kitchen, where he is made to stir with his unwashed hands the pot of porridge that was being cooked for the morning’s breakfast.
The neglect, abuse and maltreatment of patients by nurses in the hospital remain one of the most disturbing aspects of life within the hospital. On many occasions, this reporter filmed instances where patients suffering severe fits were left to lie at the mercy of the weather, with nurses totally apathetic. Some nurses were captured beating patients who lay on the ground helpless and writhing in pain.
On one occasion, a male patient is seen helping a female patient suffering from epilepsy to get on her feet. After many futile attempts to help the ailing girl, the male patient leaves her on the ground close to a nurse’s office and moves on.
Minutes later, a nurse passes by without offering any assistance to the patient. Not far from the patient, three nurses could be seen chatting idly as the epileptic patient lies in pain. When help finally arrives, the patient is beaten mercilessly by the nurses amidst shouts of “get up”, “foolish girl”, “if we beat her she would get up”.
The attitude of nurses is generally so outrageous that the hard work and conscientious disposition of Ken Wholley Brantuo, Alex Baah and a few others shone forth like a torch in pitch-darkness.