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Slain Ghanaian journalist hailed as 'national hero' at funeral

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Accra (AFP)

Ghanaian journalist Ahmed Husein, who helped expose corruption in African football, was hailed a "national hero" on Friday, as his friends and family gathered for his funeral.

The 34-year-old reporter was gunned down as he returned to his home in the Madina area of the capital, Accra, on Wednesday night, in a killing that sparked outrage.

Husein was part of an investigative team that lifted the lid on graft in the sport last year, which led to the sanction of a string of top officials, coaches and referees.

His body, wrapped in a white shroud, was brought from a central Accra mortuary to a mosque in Madina before prayers, followed by calls for those responsible to face justice.

Among those attending was Anas Aremeyaw Anas, the head of Tiger Eye productions, who led the corruption investigation, an AFP reporter said.

Ghana Journalist Association president Affial Monney told AFP: "We have lost a national hero as far as investigative journalism is concerned."

Before his body was lowered into the ground at the nearby Muslim cemetery, the imam told mourners Husein was "working for the nation to expose corruption".

- Family tribute -

Outside the family home, Husein's family met Ghana's Inspector General of Police David Asante-Apeatu, to update them on the progress of the case.

Police spokesman David Eklu said: "We came to tell them... we are leaving no stone unturned.

"In addition to that, a 15,000 cedi ($3,000, 2,700-euro) ransom has been placed on the heads of the suspects.

"Anyone who gives us information leading the arrests wil get that reward."

Musah Mukaz, 39, described Husein as "a very calm person, very patient... a very good fellow" who had been a journalist for at least five years.

"His passion for his work was to look for the truth at all costs. It (his death) is a big loss, it will put a lot of fear in a lot of journalists to do investigative journalism.

"He was doing it for the passion and the love of his nation and for his work."

He added: "He (Husein) was one of the most gentle people we have in the family, very supportive of family issues and friends here and there."

Husein leaves behind four children and two wives, said Mukaz.

- Previous threat -

Police said Husein was shot in the chest and neck. Anas and Tiger Eye said the gunmen fired at close range from a motorbike and he died instantly.

The killing has shocked Ghana, which prides itself on being a stable democracy in an often turbulent region, and where media freedom is reasonably high and improving.

Ghana ranked 23rd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2018 World Press Freedom Index -- up three places on the previous year.

The US Embassy in Ghana said Husein was "merely doing his job". The attack was not just on him "but on Ghana's climate of transparency, democratic credibility and press freedom".

Husein had complained to police after a prominent lawmaker from President Nana Akufo-Addo's ruling New Patriotic Party called on supporters to find and beat him.

Kennedy Agyapong appeared on television, showed the reporter's picture and called him "very dangerous". He promised to pay anyone who attacked him.

On Thursday he denied claims he had "engineered the killing" and said he had never been offended by Husein. But his view of his work, and that of Anas, appeared unchanged.

"The evil they have been doing will follow them," he added.

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