Ebo Quansah in Accra
The official police website boldly advertises the services provided by our peace officers thus: “Our vision at the Ghana Police Service is to be a world-class Police service capable of delivering planned, Democratic and Peaceful services to standards of international best practice.”
Given the terrible images television cameras transmitted to the world, of officers in uniform wearing masks and brutalizing civilians in the Ayawaso West (Wuogon) by-election in Accra, in January this year, as well as various reports of police brutalities across the country, the service has a long way to go to get our peace officers discharge their assignments to conform with the kind of vision officially advertised.
On the same website, the police advertises the nature of services men and women in uniform are required to render in the following language: “The Ghana Police Service exists to deliver in Crime Prevention, and Detection, Apprehension and Prosecution of offences consistent with the expectation of Ghana stakeholders for Maximum Protection, Safe, Secure and Peaceful Communities.”
In spite of this roof-top advertisement of their vision and mission, the image of the police service in Ghana is anything but. Ghanaians appear to have lost so much fate in peace officers at the centre of the earth that most nationals would rather go to the media with complaints than head to the charge office.
It is against this background that the search has begun for the next Inspector General of Police. The Number One man in the hierarchy, at the moment, Mr. David Asante Apeatu, is expected to stand down next August, after his tenure was extended in August 2017.
A gentleman, who has served the police service well over the years, my fellow Obenfo, product of the Suhum Secondary Technical School Technical School, will take his well deserved rest from in four months time.
Former Director General of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service, Mr. Asante-Apeatu was the officer Ghana sent to Gambia to unravel the mystery surrounding the murder of 44 Ghanaians on the orders of the Butcher of Banjul, Yahaya Jamel.
The head of state has the prerogative to choose from any of the 11 men and women in the Commissioner of Police status. Before we come to the factors likely to sway the head of state to settle on the next IGP, it is pertinent to look back at the officers who have led the Police service in Ghana since the colonial era.
The first recorded head of the Police administration in the then Gold Coast was Captain George Maclean, who as the Governor, was given charge of overseeing the formation and running of the service from 1831-1844. Maclean himself died in the battle of Dodowa at the hands of the invading Ashanti army in 1844.
Chief Frank Gilbert who succeeded Maclean as Governor headed the service from 1844-1859 before handing over to Captain John Hawley Glover. The next police boss in the Gold Coast was Captain A.W. Baker in his capacity as Inspector General of Police, 1873-1876. Sir Captain James Shaw Hay took over as Inspector General of Police followed by Alexander Grant, Captain Bryden and Lt. Col. Edward Bowater McInnis 1891-1893.
A number of colonial officers followed in their capacity as Commissioners of Police. They were Major A.W. Kitson, 1893-1910, E.V. Collins 1910-1917, Digby Rowland Albemarle Bettington 1919-1924, Lt. Col. H,W. M. Bamford, 1924-1938, Capt. Eric Nottingham 1938-1944, Capt. R.W.H. Ballantyne 1944 -1948 before Capt. P.Eckel was appointed head of the Gold Coast constabulary from August 18, 1948 –May 25, 1949.
Two more colonial officers headed the police at the centre of the earth before the first indigenous person to direct the service was appointed in the person of Mr. E.R.T.Madjetey who took over as head of the Ghana Police Service on October 9, 1958. Madjetey headed the Ghana Police until January 8, 1964. Mr. J.W.K. Harlley was appointed Commissioner of Police on January 1, 1958 until February 24, 1966, when together with then Colonel Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and Maj. Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa overthrew the Convention People’s Party of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Mr. Harlley was promoted Inspector General of Police the following day. He held on to the position until September 3, 1969, when he gave way to Mr. B.A. Yakubu, who was sworn in on September 13, the same year and was at post until his retirement on June 12, 1971. Mr. R.D. Ampaw took over from June 1971 until he was replaced by Mr. J.H. Cobbina on January 13 1972 following the coup that toppled the Busia regime.
Since then, there have been as many as 18 IGPs. Some have been the most revered names in the Police Service in this country. Mr. Ernest Arko replaced Mr. Cobbina in September 1974. The high turn-out since then has more to do with politics than the need in the service itself.
On July 7, 1978, Mr. Arko was replaced by B.S.K.Kwakye following the palace coup that toppled the Acheampong regime. There was Mr. C.O. Lamptey, who was himself replaced by my deceased Viking President Mr. E.P. Kyei. Kyei gave way to R.K. Kugblenu, then S.S. Omane, C.K, Dowornu, J.Y. Kwofie, Peter Nanfuri, Ernerst Owusu-Poku, Nana Owusu-Nsia and Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong.
There was a short period during the Prof. Mills’ regime when a woman acted as the Inspector General of Police. Mrs. Elizabeth Robertson acted from January 9, 2009 before being replaced by Mr. Patrick Tawiah Quaye on May 16, 2009- February 1, 2013.
Mr. John Kudalor took over from then until the National Democratic Congress administration of Mr. John Dramani Mahama was sent packing following the electoral massacre on December 7, 2016 brought Mr. Asante Apeatu to head the police service.
With Mr. Asante-Apeatu destined to end his stewardship in August this year, the race is now on to select his successor. We are told that 10 personalities, all Commissioners of Police, qualify and that the President would have to select one of them to be approved by the Council of State. The 10 are COP Maxwell Sakipasgo Atingane, COP Prosper Agblor, COP Christian Tetteh Yohuno, COP Nathan Kofi Boakye, CCOP Akufo Dan-Pare, COP Akuribah Yaagy, COP David Ampah-Benin, COP Ken Yeboah and COP Maame Tiwaa Addo Dankwa.
Mamme Tiwa Addo Dankwa is the Director-General of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police. Many in Ghana tip her as the first woman to become the substantive head of the Police Service in Ghana.
At 50 years, he has several years ahead of her to achieve her heart’s desire of leading the constabulary in Ghana. Official records indicate that she is available until August 2029 when she retires.
She certainly is one of the latest officers to be promoted to the commissioner level. When she was promoted to become Commissioner of Police in April 2019, tongues wagged about the possibility of being groomed to take over from her immediate boss.
Not many Ghanaians are happy though with her handling of the case involving the missing three Takoradi girls. She openly announced that the police had zoned in on their whereabouts only to come back later to confess that the information she put out there could be flawed. She only put out the information as an assurance to the families of the missing girls, she said. I believe many tongues would wag if she gets the nod.
COP David Ampah-Bennin is the current Director-General in charge of Special Duties. He launched a book on Christian understanding of death recently. With his retirement date set before the end of the year, Mr. Ampah-Benin cannot be a contender for the top post.
COP Akuribah Yaagy is the Director General of Police in charge of patrols. A patriotic Police officer of several years standing, he was reported to have threatened to shoot any police officer who could not recite the mission statement of the service as well as its mission statement.
He has several experience behind him having served in the Eastern and Western Regions as the regional boss. Unconfirmed reports indicate that he would retire from the service this year, which makes it very unlikely to get the nod from the head of state.
COP Maxwell Sakispasgo Atingane is the Commandant, Staff and Command College, Winneba. He is penciled in to retire by the end of the year which makes it very unlikely for any consideration, so is Mr. Peter Agblor, Director General, Legal and Prosecution. Word within the service is that Mr. Abloh is due to retire next year. He is unlikely to be considered for that major appointment which obviously has a political slant.
COP Beatrice Zakpa Vib-Sanziri is also not favoured in the age category and is likely to miss out on becoming the first woman IGP, which leaves the field open to four contenders. COP Ken Yeboah is the Director-General in charge of Administration. A former Ashanti Regional Commander, he has age on his side. He is not set to retire until 2023.
COP Nathan Kofi Boakye is the people’s choice to lead the police service in this turbulent times of a threat on Ghana by armed Muslim militants. Popularly referred to as Commander On, he has a public reputation for dealing ruthlessly with armed robbers. Calls for him to be the new IGP is still ringing all over the place.
Unofficial sources believe COP Christian Tetteh Yohuno has a very good chance of catching the president’s eye. Promoted COP and given charge of directing the Motor Traffic Department, he has a tall order getting his men to concentrate on the job at hand rather than lining their pockets.
The other strong candidate for the job is COP Dr. George Akufo Dampare at 48, certainly among the youngest commissioners of Police in this country. He holds a PHD degree in Finance. At the moment, he is in charge at the police headquarters as the Director General in Charge of welfare. Whether or not he could transcend his welfare responsibility to take charge of the entire force is anybody’s guess.
All Ghanaians wait with bated breath for the day the President would present the next police boss to the people. Thdeconvenional wisdom is that whoever gets the nod has a tall order getting the men and women in the black uniform behave according to their own mission statement. I shall return!