Sports News of Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Read the unedited statement read by Kissi Agyabeng, lawyer for the Gyan family at Wednesday’s press conference.
Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press
If you take a close look at the Daily Graphic, you will see at the top right corner the words – “Truth and Accuracy Every Day.” We take inspiration from these beautiful words and make them the foundation of this press meeting.
I will address you on the disappearance of Castro and Janet Bandu, the allegations and rumours thereafter, the Daniel Kenu affair, and the Gyan brothers and media relations in that order.
The Disappearance of Castro and Janet Bandu
On Friday 4 July 2014, Asamoah Gyan, the captain of the national football team (the Black Stars), his elder brother Baffour Gyan (a former Black Stars player), and some of their close friends and associates, checked into Aqua Safari Resort at Ada for a weekend vacation.
The core team included the boxer, Emmanuel Tagoe, alias Game Boy and his sister Naa, Theophilus Tagoe, the hiplife star known as Castro (who joined the team at the eleventh hour), Alberta Tetteh (Anim Addo’s associate who brought along two female friends, Nana Akua Ayisi and Janet Bandu), Benjamin Owusu Ansah, Dauda Tetteh, Patrick Botchway, Akwasi Bonsu, Kwabena Boateng, Joseph Kissi, Seth Tetteh, DJ George, and me. As one would expect, the presence of Asamoah Gyan and Castro attracted other persons to the group during the team’s entire weekend stay at Ada.
The trip itself was not remarkable in any respect, but for the unfortunate events of Sunday 6 July 2014. It was not remarkable because it is the annual practice of the core group that went to Ada to go on a weekend vacation at the end of the football calendar. The original destination of the trip this year was the Maritime Club at Akosombo. The venue had to be changed at short notice as a result of repair works then being carried on the main yacht at that resort.
These trips, this year’s included, are funded by Asamoah Gyan – as treats to his close friends and associates. The trips, including this year’s, are organized by Samuel Anim Addo – the Managing Director of Asamoah Gyan Foundation, Gyan Investments Ltd., Baby Jet Promotions, Mama Vits Investment Ltd, and the spokesperson for Asamoah Gyan. For some curious reason, the Daily Graphic has resorted to characterizing Samuel Anim Addo as the errand boy of the Gyan brothers. But I digress.
Samuel Anim Addo books the rooms in his name, and he allocates them to Asamoah Gyan’s invitees at his discretion. Of course, he also has discretion to invite a few of his own friends. The core group of invitees congregated variously at the Shell station at the Tema Motorway roundabout, from where the team set off, excluding me. I joined them later that night.
The core group had dinner at the restaurant at Aqua Safari Resort and took boat rides on the Volta River thereafter. The boats, numbering three (3), were rented from the resort. The boat rides terminated without incident at about 10:30 p.m. The core group then proceeded to the poolside of the resort for a night barbecue, which ran well into the morning of Saturday 5 July 2014. As is their custom, Asamoah Gyan and Castro entertained guests at the poolside with live singing performances.
I left Ada at 4 a.m. on Saturday 5 July 2014 to attend to a pressing legal matter in Accra but with the intention of returning later that day to rejoin the core group at Peace Holiday Resort, located about seven minute’s drive from Aqua Safari Resort.
As my last statement suggests, the team checked out of Aqua Safari Resort on Saturday 5 July 2014 and checked into Peace Holiday Resort soon thereafter. However, as subsequent events would show, the relationship that weekend between the core group and Aqua Safari Resort did not end on 5 July.
The core group spent the better part of the incident-free 5 July at Peace Holiday Resort, ending the day with a live band party which also featured, again, performances by the hiplife duo – Castro and Baby Jet (Asamoah Gyan). I could not rejoin the core group that day as I had intended. Fate engineered my reunion with the core group the next day under very grim and unhappy circumstances.
On Sunday 6 July 2014, the core group had breakfast at Peace Holiday Resort. Part of the group, including Asamoah Gyan and Castro, took boat rides to Aqua Safari resort to rent jet skis. The skis were rented by the individual members from the management of Aqua Safari Resort and each person was made to sign a generic form that purports to indemnify the resort against unhappy events that may ensue.
The jet ski riders did several trips up on the Volta River between Aqua Safari Resort and Peace Holiday Resort and also circumnavigated the island overlooking the later resort, which bears its name. All the riders, including Castro, were provided with and, indeed, wore contraptions intended as life jackets. Castro wore a bright reddish colour of the said contraption.
At some point during the jet ski rides, Asamoah Gyan suggested that the core group play a volley ball game at the sandy river end of Aqua Safari Resort. All the jet ski riders of the core group, except Castro, disembarked at Aqua Safari Resort for the volley ball game. Castro indicated that he wanted to ride a little bit longer. The other members of the core group, who were at Peace Holiday Resort, including Baffour Gyan were called in to join the others at Aqua Safari Resort. They left in groups of three (3) or four (4) on boats rented from Peace Holiday Resort to join the volley ball game at Aqua Safari Resort.
Castro rode for the last time from Aqua Safari Resort to Peace Holiday Resort where Baffour Gyan and a few others, including Alberta Tetteh, Nana Akua Ayisi and Janet Bandu were waiting for their turn to take the boat ride to Aqua Safari Resort.
When Castro got to Peace Holiday Resort Janet Bandu requested to ride on the jet ski with him, and he obliged her. While she was climbing on board Castro’s jet ski, Baffour Gyan noticed that she was not wearing a life jacket. He immediately shot up to his feet and remonstrated with Castro to ensure that Janet wore a life jacket before setting off. Castro sped off, as soon as Janet sat behind him, toward the estuary – in the direction of where the Volta joins the Atlantic. They have not returned, eighty (80) odd days since they set off. The rest of the members of the core group eventually joined the others at Aqua Safari Resort within the hour. While the volley ball game was still on, Samuel Anim Addo, was called aside by a staff of Aqua Safari Resort – who informed him that a call had been placed through to Aqua Safari Resort from a resort located in the Tsarleykope area that one of the jet skis belonging to Aqua Safari Resort had been spotted on the Volta River without its occupant(s). A head count showed that Castro and Janet had not returned.
Samuel Anim Addo was invited to join a search party that was constituted by Mubarak Montia, Adjei Annan, Ernest Doe and Theophilus Doe – staff of Aqua Safari Resort. One of the crafts the party went with overturned near the location where the jet ski was found. Thankfully, there were no injuries or fatalities.
Within an hour and half of the reported sighting of the unmanned jet ski, I returned to Ada, by which time the Ada Police, the District Chief Executive of Ada East District and the Member of Parliament for the area had been informed of the matter.
Together with these officials, Samuel Anim Addo and I took charge and we triggered a comprehensive search and rescue effort operating from the conference room of Peace Holiday Resort, which was entirely shut down for the purpose. We called in the Tema Police Command, the Marine Police, the Navy, planes from the Air Force, local fishermen and traditionalists. The main search effort continued for a full week.
We issued two brief press statements on Asamoah Gyan’s official website to confirm the disappearance of Castro and Janet and the efforts being made to find them.
Since then the group has cooperated fully with the police in their investigation. I have personally supervised our involvement in the investigations.
Wild Allegations and Rumours
When it became apparent that Castro and Janet had disappeared, an article appeared on-line which appeared to commiserate with Asamoah Gyan citing the recent loss of his mother and now the loss of his best friend. One would have thought that this would have been a point of reference to console the Gyans – and indeed, a good number of well-meaning persons expressed this sentiment and sought to encourage us to stand firm. To the thousands of individuals and institutions that came to our aid and to offer support, we express our gratitude.
Sadly, the expression of empathy during a person’s moment of grief and utter dismay does not sell in the media. What sells in the media, and what indeed sold and is still selling in the media in Ghana are wild allegations and rumours directed especially at Asamoah Gyan – ranging from the absurd – of the imputation of criminality to him in the sense that he either murdered Castro or had him kidnapped – and ending with the ludicrous – that he sacrificed him spiritually to enhance his career.
We have been silent while these wild allegations and rumours have been peddled in the media. We have been silent not because we are concealing anything or that we do not feel the need to fully state what, from our reckoning, had happened in Ada. We have been silent because we did not want to interfere with police investigations and recently the leveling of assault charges against Baffour Gyan and Samuel Anim Addo, sealed our mouths further. Now, we can come out openly because the police have stated their position and the assault charges against Baffour Gyan and Samuel Anim Addo have been dropped and they have been discharged. We will revisit this matter.
In our painful silence, we have been totally dismayed by the fact that the platform was provided for the peddling of these wild and ludicrous allegations and rumours against us. Those to whom the platform was provided offered no evidence whatsoever to back their statements. And indeed, the allegation of spiritual sacrifice can by no stretch of the imagination be propped up.
The startling development has been the outbursts of persons who should know better. Indeed, one such person has gone has far as to claim that he knows where Castro is being kept and that Asamoah Gyan also knows where Castro is being kept. He also made the unfortunate statement that we have bribed Castro’s family to keep silent over the matter. Castro’s father has publicly denied this. This is no way to treat grieving families and friends.
If this person has knowledge of such wonderful information, we encourage him to report his findings immediately to the police. It will better serve the purpose of the families of Castro and Janet Bandu. If he has been unable to do this all this while, then his statements are, to put it charitably, mischievous or calculated to earn him very cheap popularity.
Admittedly, the net effect of the peddling of these wild allegations and rumours is that the word on the street is that we had a hand in the disappearance of Castro and Janet Bandu. This is how a person’s reputation gets ruined and this is how disaffection gets sowed in the minds of persons against the person who is being attacked so unfairly.
Perhaps we should have come out earlier. But I have already explained why we could not. Now, we take the opportunity and state without the slightest doubt in our minds that we are not blameable for the disappearance of Castro and Janet Bandu. We had no hand in that occurrence. We have no moral or legal culpability whatsoever. None of us rode out into the open estuary with Castro and Janet Bandu. Castro rode out there on his own volition and none of us have the slightest idea as to what happened to them. We have only been guess working and conjecturing and making what appears to us to be intelligent deductions – in light of the facts available to us, especially the fact that when they rode out on the jet ski Janet Bandu was not wearing a life jacket.
We do not know Janet Bandu that well. However, we do know that from the time we met her on 4 July 2014 till her disappearance on 6 July 2014, she proved herself to be a well-mannered and graceful lady. We have no ill will against her.
We know Castro all too well. He was our brother. We loved him as one of our own. We did everything together with him. You are all witnesses to the hit songs Castro has been featuring Asamoah Gyan on and the added popularity that gave him. Indeed, the duo were just about to release another song. We will never do anything to harm him.
We are in unimaginable pain and shock and we will give anything to Castro and Janet back.
The Daniel Kenu Affair
The wild allegations and rumours prompted Daniel Kenu, the Ashanti Regional Editor of the Daily Graphic, to pose his now famous question to Asamoah Gyan – in a bid to offer the captain of the Black Stars an opportunity to clear his name.
On hindsight, it seems to us that Daniel Kenu was not actuated by malice. Perhaps he meant well and on an occasion different from the one in which the question was posed, it may not have evoked the emotional response it did. And perhaps we should have taken the opportunity to lay to rest these wicked allegations and rumours. However, the question caused Asamoah Gyan great distress. And the debate will forever rage as to the propriety or otherwise of the question.
Yet our reaction to the question could have been better handled. We should have just ignored him and we wished we had done just that.
We deeply regret one thing. We regret the presence of Baffour Gyan at the location where Daniel Kenu was roughed up. He was still fuming over Daniel Kenu’s question posed to his brother earlier. And he confronted him angrily. A few unhappy words were spoken in the heat of the situation. We regret this incident especially because it created an avenue for some young men, who were present, to rough the journalist up. Baffour Gyan ought to have known that some of these young men are prone to fighting causes for football stars and his angry outburst at Daniel Kenu may unintentionally send a signal to them to get physical. We apologize for Baffour Gyan’s angry outburst at Daniel Kenu. It was uncalled for and we believe it will not be repeated.
We condemn Daniel Kenu’s roughing up. And we condemn any physical attack on journalists. Aside their own given football gift, the Gyan brothers are who they are because of the media. And despite the heavy criticisms leveled against them in the media in respect of their failings, they have always had a commendable working relationship with the media until the Daniel Kenu incident. Asamoah Gyan has a bit more of football time. And he will always need the media to cover his games, especially as he captains the Black Stars.
We humbly call for a truce between the Gyan brothers on the one hand, and the media on the other hand. We are reaching out a friendly hand to journalists and the media. Please accept it. It is time to let the matter rest.
Cromwell Gray LLP