Police and Politicians: Complicity or Caution?
By I. K. Gyasi
Currently unfolding before our very eyes is a drama in which officials and members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have accused the Ghana Police Service of complicity, indifference, and inaction in the on-going biometric registration exercise.
Particularly targeted by the NDC are Superintendent Kwasi Ofori, Commander of the Tafo-Pankrono District in Kumasi, and ACP Angubutoge Awuni, Commander of the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) in Accra.
Not to be outdone, the NPP has asked for the removal of DSP Franklyn Adai, Commander of the James Town District, Accra, where the Odododiodoo constituency is.
The NPP have even raised the stakes higher, by calling for the resignation of the Police Chief himself, Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Paul Tawiah Quaye. What are the “crimes” of these police officers?
The NPP has accused Mr. Adai of failing to take action to stop the alleged disruption of the registration exercise in his area of command. The allegation is that certain persons were being prevented from registering, because of ethnic origin or affiliation to the NPP.
The culmination of the accusation was that Mr. Adai had allegedly failed to take action when Ms. Ursula Owusu, a leading member of the NPP and a candidate for Ablekuma South, together with certain members of the NPP, had been physically assaulted by persons deemed to be NDC members, or hired by the party, or a party man.
It was said that the marauding bands, after forcibly seizing implements from hardware shops, had taken to the streets, while the police looked on unconcerned.
The Inspector-General of Police had issued a statement to the effect that the police would remain neutral during the registration exercise.
My conviction is that what the IGP meant was that the police would not aid one party against the other. The NPP felt that the IGP’s declaration was not enough, and that in the face of reported atrocities, neutrality in which the police did nothing was unacceptable.
In any case, the NPP felt that the Police Service was not doing enough to stop attacks on members of the NPP.
The NDC has zeroed in on Superintendent Kwasi Ofori of the Tafo-Pankrono Command of the Police Service. As you may recall, Mr. Ofori was the National Public Affairs Director of the Ghana Police Service.
Always on the frontline, his face and voice, and his constant allusion to “Rules of Engagement,” made him a familiar figure to viewers and listeners.
Not too long after he had been promoted from Deputy Superintendent to full Superintendent, he was, for reasons still not known to unprivileged ones like me, transferred to head the Tafo-Pankrono Command.
For a long time after his transfer, he seemed, for all practical purposes, to be dead to the world, until his famous name popped up during the current biometric registration exercise.
Some thugs using registered and unregistered motorbikes and other vehicles, terrorised registration centres in Kumasi. According to reports, these unruly deviants of society beat up people, and either seized or tampered with the registration equipment.
Mr. Ofori decided to take action against those who had invaded his territory and were causing mayhem. He placed a bounty of GH¢2,000.00 (Two thousand Ghana cedis) on the head of one of them.
Mr. Ofori must have had the shock of his life, when Mr. Joseph Yamin, the Ashanti Regional Secretary of the NDC, called a press conference to say that the alleged thug was actually an accredited agent of the NDC, and that Mr. Ofori had aligned himself with the NPP.
The greater shock must have come to Mr. Ofori, when his own national Police Administration publicly humiliated him by distancing itself from Mr. Ofori’s decision to place a bounty on the head of the person in question.
In Accra, the NDC denounced Mr. Awuni. Mr. Awuni’s offence was that he had reportedly shown gross disrespect to Mr. Ashietey, the immediate past NDC Greater Accra Regional Minister.
Mr. Awuni was reported to have verbally abused Mr. Ashietey and caused him to be put to “counter back”, which would virtually amount to arrest and incarceration in a police cell, even if he did not actually go into such a cell.
When Mr. Ashietey reportedly threatened to have Mr. Awuni removed from office, Mr. Awuni reportedly took off his police officer’s cap and pushed it towards Mr. Ashietey, daring him (Mr. Ashietey) to dismiss him.
Mr. Awuni’s language was said to be intemperate, though it has not been reported whether the words amounted to High Treason, Treason, incitement to genocide, causing fear and panic, etc.
Mr. Ade Coker, the NDC Greater Accra Regional Chairman, also called a press conference to denounce Mr. Awuni, and call for his resignation. He also threatened that the NDC would hold a series of protests until Mr. Awuni resigned. It is understood that that threat has been rescinded.
I am not the official or unofficial Public Affairs Manager of the Ghana Police Service. In fact, I have sometimes looked at the police with suspicion and contempt, ever since a policeman, in the company of a policewoman in Accra, said he was going to charge a driver with “attempting to failing to stop”, a non-existent offence.
Still, I have always been as strong advocate of the need to have a regular, efficient, well-resourced Police Service. Have we ever given thought to what can happen to some of us without the existence of a police service? We could as well live in the jungle.
While individual policemen and women may have their political preferences and may allow these preferences to affect their professionalism, our politicians have largely adversely affected the efficient discharge of their functions.
When these political parties, especially the NDC and the NPP, accuse the police of inaction, partiality and indifference, they forget that they (the NDC and the NPP) are largely to blame.
When punitive transfers can come under the cover of “routine transfers,” which police officer would ignore an order from the Regional Chairman of the party in power to free an arrested suspect?
When the life of an Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) is literally threatened, why would a responsible police officer decide to take no action, because it is “a political matter,” as he put it? Well, that MCE was smuggled out of his area and later dismissed. The police officer was right.
Contrary to what others might think, I see the Ghana Police Service as an efficient, highly professional organisation, despite the negatives.
If only the NDC and the NPP will take off the handcuffs of intimidation, the Ghana Police Service will produce results. NDC and NPP, hands off the Ghana Police Service!
Short URL: http://thechronicle.com.gh/?p=43931