How Gay Doctor Was Busted

What Dr Ali Gabass told Manasseh (Part One)

On Friday, October 13, 2014 at about 2pm, Joy FM’s investigative journalist Manasseh walked into the private hospital of Dr Sulley Ali Gabass in Takoradi. He was investigating the senior medical doctor of Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital for sodomising a 16-year-old boy in Accra. The boy was 15 years when they first had sex.

On Monday, July 13, an Accra circuit court sentenced Dr Ali Gabass to 25 years’ imprisonment. The doctor refused to speak on record but later denied ever admitting to the offence. Manasseh, however, recorded him secretly and the tape was accepted by the court as evidence. This is Part One of exactly what transpired when Manasseh walked into Dr Sulley Ali Gabass’ office:

Gabass: Hello!

Manasseh: Good afternoon.

Gabass: Good afternoon. You are welcome.

Manasseh:Thank you, Sir. My name is Manasseh.

Gabass: Manasseh Azure?

Manasseh: Yeah!

Gabass: I have been hearing of you.

Manasseh: Nice to meet you. I’m following up on a story, and somebody is making an allegation and I think it is only fair that I speak to you.

Gabass: That’s right.

Manasseh: There is this boy in Accra called, errm… (name withheld).

Gabass: [He repeats the name Manasseh mentions] Yeah!

Manasseh: Yeah, he is alleging that you had carnal knowledge of him and then errm, a whole number of issues.

Gabass: Issues?

Manasseh: So I think it’s only fair that I…

Gabass: You consulted…

Manasseh: Yeah.

Gabass: … consult me.

Manasseh: Yeah, because it’s not the best … the little I have asked, they said you are like the pillar at the Obstetrics & Gynaecology Unit at the Hospital.

Gabass: That’s right

Manasseh: So I think such a personality, if you have errm somebody making an allegation, you don’t just go to air and publish.

Gabass: That’s right.

Manasseh: You have to confront the… let the person tell you exactly what is it and all sort of things. So that’s the main reason why I came.

Gabass: So what happened? What was his story?

Manasseh: That you were friends—it started on Facebook—until you met and you had sex with him and that he is sick.

Gabass: Ha! Wei Allah! Wei Allah! Wei Allah! [He chanted words in Arabic]. Look at this … my heart is panting. Manasseh.

Manasseh: Sir.

Gabass: I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I won’t lie to you; in fact, it was a mistake. You see, this guy, I don’t know. It’s like … it’s not anal knowledge per say but the fact that this guy, a minor, a friend of yours and then you know this thing. In fact, Manasseh.

Manasseh: Sir.

Gabass: As a brother, what can I do? Looking at … you see, I’ve got a family. You see, I will tell you something. You are getting me into trouble. So what can I do?

Manasseh: I understand and I’m also feeling errm the same way. Even I haven’t met you. I spoke to people in the hospital (Effia Nkwanta Teaching Hospital) and someone even said errm it was a problem you had with the health authorities, that is why maybe some of your juniors are even ahead of you. Even still, if you go to Effia Nkwanta, the Obstetrics and Gyaenacology Unit … until this thing happened, I hadn’t heard it, I didn’t even read. But …

Gabass: I had a problem, you see.

Manasseh: Yeah, people are telling me you are rather, you are actually the one holding up the place now. You are hardworking and all of that.

Gabass: You see, the point is that, you see, I had a problem. I wasn’t myself. I was actually troubled. I was the superintendent of errm Effia Nkwanta Hospital errm not Effia Nkwanta, Esikado Hospital. And there was a point I had to take medicine to sleep. And I’m just getting out of it. That’s why I established this place that I’m in. I did so many things that I have regretted. I don’t know whether it’s out of the depression, frustration, you know? I don’t know … I cannot … I won’t lie to you.

There was a point even my license was going to be revoked but [through] the intervention of my superiors who know the sort of work I do; they actually intervened and protected me and then I came out of this drug… It happened around that time. In fact, this guy lied to me but I won’t say that as an excuse.

Actually, he wanted to see me, you know, internet this thing. So I actually met him in Accra, you know. And … and the reason why … the reason why even err I was very much after that err you see I was taken by surprise. You see these guys? That’s how they are.

When they see you … that’s when I realised like this guy can blackmail me. In fact, I don’t know what I was into and so I got [afraid] and immediately, I deleted him from my Facebook account. But then that’s my number so he calls me … and I want to make sure that …

There was a time or was it some time ago? He called me that he was in Swedru Hospital that … it could be related. It could not be related but once I have had something to do with him, the brother called me. I said why are you calling me? He said his brother gave him the number that I’m his friend; that I can help him.

That he is in the hospital and cannot pay the bill and all that. It’s a form of blackmail but what can I do? I didn’t even have the money. Initially I said … was it five million? (GH¢500) or 12 million (GH¢1,200). I sent him the money hoping that this would be quiet because I have a whole family depending on me. If you look at me, that’s not how I am. I have lost weight. When you mentioned…, see the reaction.

I can’t deny and I have regretted. I don’t know as if something … I’ve not been myself. As if something is eating me, you know. Not knowing I’m being investigated…

Manasseh: Yeah.

Gabass: Yeah, so it was on me to ask this guy. I was … I came from errm Komfo Anokye errm errm Korle Bu yesterday. We had a workshop on errm adverse effects of this thing … errm as I was sitting there, I was not sick but I felt like I was sick. So when I came, I told this guy that I was not feeling well. I don’t feel well, like an impending doom on me. Impending doom. But I don’t know what doom it is. So when you came, I wasn’t that surprised that you mentioned that but if this should get out of hand, I’m finished. I’m not saying this thing without this thing … errm I have regretted very much.

You know, with this sexual thing, you know, for some of us we are trying our best. You know, it’s like being born with it. That edge is there. But… I didn’t know. It was in my car he actually … I was going to Accra. He says the … he will meet me. In fact, I was so eh this thing because he said he was doing Science so, in fact, it was through this that I … this guy was so sexually this thing.

You know when you do, you just … the devil just take over. But ever since, I didn’t want to do anything with him again but you cannot just throw him off like that for him to go back and then expose you when you have made such a mistake. You know, so in fact ever since that day … I don’t know.

Manasseh: Hmm!

Gabass: So that’s the story. It’s true. It’s true but I don’t know whether it is this that caused his sickness or something he’s been doing always. But once I’m also involved, definitely the person of my calibre, I will be the prime suspect.

Manasseh: Suspect?

Gabass: Aha! So the whole wrath will come on me. So when I called the brother about his health, I have been following him and he told me he’s been discharged and I said okay. So…

Manasseh: When was this?

Gabass: [He calls on one Gabriel to ask him the date he (Gabriel) was made to send the boy in question money]. It was last month. Yeah, last month. So, in fact, before giving him the money, I wanted to talk to him then the brother said the guy will not talk to me. Then I said why he gave my name [number] to you to call me so I forced and talked to him.

And then, he said the doctors were forcing him to say something and all that… so I said okay did you tell them something? Errm … he says he didn’t want to cause any scandal. And I said I understand you. You know this thing … errm in fact I will be troubled.

You understand, and not to escape errm when we do something we must take responsibility for that. Okay, and that’s why when he asked for the money, and… I said that he was going towards errm blackmail. Because, calling me for money here and there; money here and there. I don’t know. Sometimes, well, we have to take responsibility for what we do but to tell me to be this thing … I don’t know what people will think about this issue. This is a big story and I will never come out alive. So, Manasseh.

Manasseh: Mmm!

Gabass: I don’t know but I take you to be a brother and I think for everything, we must take the good … the overall good of it. That’s what we must think about. What I did wasn’t right and to tell you, I wasn’t in my right mood and I don’t think I’m going to … because in my usual self I won’t stoop that low; it’s depression. And the depression, I got it from work. In fact, …my house even got burnt on that. Yes, my house; my own house. Everything was razed.

Series of events passed my way. I don’t know what I have done to deserve that. But I have come out of it. This is a private [hospital], I actually come here after two o’clock after I finish my work there. So, Manasseh, I have been listening to your…

Manasseh: Stories.

Gabass: Stories all the time on Joy Fm. I cannot stop you from doing your work and at the same time, the results that will come out of this are what I fear.

I don’t know the … if there is a way that I could talk to the parents and get this thing settled and believe me …

Manasseh: That side will be between you and the [boy’s] relatives.

Gabass: Insha Allah! Eh, then I will be sitting down …

Manasseh: Mmm!

Gabass: And this will come.

Manasseh: [Manasseh tells Gabass he was unable to arrange a meeting between him (Gabass) & the boy’s relatives and that Gabass may have to first speak to the Managing News Editor at Joy Fm who had contacted the relatives before the story rolled].

He (Managing News Editor at Joy Fm) put me on this thing (story). I’m just like a messenger on this story. He actually sent me.

Gabass: I know. I know. That’s why I want to ask … this issue, you know, that will blow out of proportion. It will sell your newspaper [referring to Joy Fm]. It will destroy me, it will destroy my family. Currently, I have a brother who is mentally ill and it’s been causing a lot of trouble[s] in the family.

In the whole family, I’m the only one that God has elevated; yeah, and they all depend on me. I’m the seventh or so … [of] eleven siblings.

Manasseh: Wow!

Gabass: Two are dead but the rest are there [alive].

Manasseh: You are the seventh?

Gabass: I’m the seventh and we are all boys. After me came a girl and then two girls. One is in the States (America). The rest are just in the house. My brother [recently] lost his job. The other one is mentally ill because of drugs and it’s causing … even as I went there yesterday, he has been beaten. We have to take him to the hospital.

My Mother is actually grieving. Her hope is now on me and … if this thing should come out, you know. You see, sometimes I believe you will consider the good …

Manasseh: And the bad

Gabass: For the society. You weigh the good that person will continue to provide to the society and the bad side, how much damage has that caused? For all you know, I’m not the only one. If this guy is able to entice me, you can imagine.

Manasseh: So he really enticed you?

Gabass: Oh my brother. His Facebook …

Manasseh: Was he the one who sent you the request or?

Gabass: Oh yes! Oh yes! You see, I get a lot of friend requests. I’m very popular.

Manasseh: Yeah.

Gabass: I’m very popular. I get a lot of requests so errm it wasn’t even his real picture or something like that in the beginning. It was later that … after I had seen that but, yeah, you are [he is] so young, Manasseh.

Manasseh: But there is this point that he is also alleging that he has contracted HIV.

Gabass: Are you sure [voice raised]?

Manasseh: Yeah, that’s what …

Gabass: It has been confirmed?

Manasseh: Yeah … I should think so.

Gabass: But I’m not HIV positive.

Manasseh: So he is alleging that you are the only one he suspects. So if you are not, then it means there is more to the story.

Gabass: Exactly! That’s what I’m saying. I can do the test right now for you … we always … because I’m working in the hospital, we always do this HIV test. But that’s beside the point because if this thing should get to the public … that’s my fear.

Now, right now, we are moving from this place to another building and I’ve gone for a loan from the Ghana Commercial Bank and I’ve to go and pay the building’s money. I don’t know.

Manasseh: I think errm I will have to inform my editor, even if it means you speaking to him.

Gabass: Yes. So how far has this story gone?

Manasseh: For now it’s like [we are] gathering information.

Gabass: Is it with the police?

Manasseh: No, no, no. The police are doing … I don’t know what they are doing at their side but when my editor contacted, he said I should go and speak to the boy. I think that was three weeks ago or so. He was in errm Korle Bu.

Gabass: He’s gone to Korle Bu?

Manasseh: Yeah, he was on admission there. I think he even had a surgery.

Gabass: Yeah, it was done at Swedru. Akim Swedru.

Manasseh: No, this one is at Korle Bu. This one just recently. I think last week he was errm last week he was discharged.

Gabass: Ah, so what is this? Did he say he was taken to Swedru Hospital?

Manasseh: Eh, as for Swedru I don’t know about that.

Gabass: You see, this guy was lying to me.

Manasseh: I don’t know about the Swedru. I only heard it about two or three weeks ago so when I went to the hospital he was …

Gabass: He was there.

Manasseh: He was there. He was even discharged.

Gabass: I’m negative. How can they allow me to do surgery with [HIV] positive? We check all the time. I do surgery. I save people, you know, and I test myself all the time. You know, how can that be? You understand?

[Dr Gabass chants words (probably prayers) in Arabic].

Look, right now I’m weak. Manasseh. What do I do? What do I do now? Because from what you have told me I cannot eat. Luckily, I just finished eating something and waiting for my next client…and virtually my nerves are weak.

I don’t know. You know, in your line of work can you help me where this thing we can resolve it without it going public? It will be difficult?

Manasseh: Errm the difficulty or what I can advise is, I will try and give errm let you see … I will speak to my managing editor and see if he will allow you errm so that I will give him errm I will give you his number. Because I have been sent and normally when you go out and such things happen, it looks like you have gone to collect money from somebody; you are killing the story …

Gabass: Yes.

Manasseh: Aha! I cannot do anything. I can be sacked; that’s the reality and if you know someone who works with Joy Fm, even if he goes for an assignment and they [the PROs of an event] are sharing envelopes and you take some, you can be dismissed – at Joy Fm.

Gabass: I know.

Manasseh: So I am like … even I’m not the managing news editor. There are about three people I serve under before [the managing news editor] so I’m not like errm someone who takes decisions about which stories to…

Gabass: What I’m saying is that I’m asking for an …

Manasseh: Yeah, advice.

Gabass: How do I go about it, you know, because this thing eventually, I don’t know what to do … with myself. My mother will die, believe me. She will die because I’m the thread of hope for her. She sees me, she lives. Every other people give her grief.

I just left her in Accra… but how … this guy is going to do me that? Because Facebook I’m not going to be the only person.

Okay, this guy the way he treated me, the way he interacted with me, I’m not sure I’m the only person he interacts with because for this guy to chat that way…

Manasseh: Chatting?

Gabass: Charlie!

Manasseh: Because when you speak to him, he is like innocent; he doesn’t know anything about those things; that is his first time he ever …

Gabass: Look, well like I said, there is nothing that can exonerate me because he is like a minor. But I don’t know. I don’t have any defence; I don’t have any defence; I don’t have any defence. But I don’t know why he reported this thing except to [destroy] my image.

Manasseh: Well, I don’t know the details … but I’m …

Gabass: And now, I don’t know what to do. How can I do that? How can I stoop so low? You know, how can I stoop so low? Look at my wife. How can I stoop this low?

[Dr Gabass recites words in Arabic]. I don’t think I can sleep tonight.

Manasseh: You know, let me call my … But we’ve, we have spoken to him already; like interviewed him on record and the main reason, maybe do … maybe from here we can go and then I will speak to my boss. Maybe if possible, I will let you call him so that whatever there is … but would you also want to, maybe, say your side of the story?

Gabass: What story can I say [he chuckles]? From whatever point you look at it, I’ve no story, you understand? If you say ‘side of the story,’ it’s like an issue against one. This is not an issue against … This is an act of commission which is abhorred. You understand?

I have never; look, sometimes I keep thinking. Virtually I can’t eat properly. Ask this guy [He refers to Gabriel, his receptionist]. The first time the brother called me that his brother (boy in question) gave my number [to him] to call me because he doesn’t have money. That I have to support them; that [was] when I started melting down.

Manasseh: He’s saying he has never taken any money from you.

Gabass: Is that what he said? [He calls Gabriel to confirm that he (Gabass) indeed gave money to him to be sent to the boy. Gabriel says he sent the boy an amount of money.]

[To Gabriel] It is that boy and that has given me trouble. I am in trouble, Manasseh Azure. He is the one sitting here. He has reported me. Even you don’t know what we are talking about. [He asks Gabriel to leave].

There was a time, you know, this guy was pestering me that for communication … you know, at first I wanted to … because he is a Muslim too and because he’s a Muslim, and that’s what got me interested.

And because he is a Muslim doing Science, and most of my work is trying to help Muslims also attain a certain level. So you see, that is my work—empowering our Muslims who have got a lot of … so any function that motivates the youth so that they also know that if I can do it, they can also do it.

Because I’m not coming from a very rich family and I actually was raised at Nsawam, Adoagyiri Nzongo.

The circumstances from which I came out are very typical of every Ghanaian. So if I can become a doctor, I believe everybody can become a doctor. So that’s my message and that was the basis on which we started our friendship. But, you know, human beings, everybody has got his ‘other side.’ Errm, we call it weakness.

When you are caught in a certain situation, it is very difficult to get out until the act is committed and you see, it begins to shame you. After that time, there is no going back. So even I bought a phone for him. He insisted and I told him to tell his mother. He told me his mother was aware of the phone because if you have a phone and as a young boy like that, people will ask you where you are coming from; and he told me his mother is aware.

There was a time I even told him to introduce me to his father because we are Muslims. I’m like a role model to him.

Manasseh: Yes.

Gabass: That’s how it all started. This thing I’m talking [about], it happened in a car but what ensued I won’t tell you. It’s not important.

Manasseh: He’s saying it happened five times.

Gabass: Five times where? [surprised] He is there, I’m here. Five times where?

Manasseh: That’s three in the car [and] you took him to the house in Aladjo, Accra.

Gabass: Yes, but it is not five times. I’m coming … I said the… [With a look of pain on his face, he recites words in Arabic]. Everybody has got his time.

The second part of this transcribed interview, which lasted for more than an hour, will be published tomorrow.