On Friday, June 10, 2022 students of Islamic Senior High School in Kumasi went on a demonstration to protest against frequent accidents that have been occurring in front of the school, as a result of lack of speed ramps on that stretch of road. During the demonstration, the students blocked the main road leading to Barekese and its environs, forcing the police to step in.
Unfortunately, the peace mission of the police turned into a ‘violent mission’ as they indiscriminately fired both tear gas and live ammunitions. Some of the students, after inhaling the tear gas, fell unconscious and were rushed to various health facilities around the vicinity. The police, however, claimed they did not fire tear gas, but rather pepper sprayed, following an attack on them by the students.
Fast forward, the Inspector General of Police, Dr George Akufo Dampare, upon hearing the news, rushed to Kumasi to first commiserate with the students. His outfit, on the same day, issued a statement that announced the interdiction of the Acting Ashanti Regional Commander and Director of Operations, to pave way for thorough investigations into the case.
Regrettably, the action of the IGP seems not to have gone down well with a section of the public, who are accusing him of promoting a so called presidential ambition, by always rushing to every trouble spot instead of allowing his regional commanders to do so.
It is instructive to note that the allegation against the IGP nursing presidential ambitions has been lingering for some time now, but the man himself has not come out to deny or confirm it. The Chronicle cannot, therefore, defend him on that.
Our concern, however, is the accusation that he rushes to every trouble spot instead of instructing his commanders to do so. Though those raising the issue are entitled to their opinion, we do not think the conduct of the IGP in such situations are bad.
Previous IGPs might not have behaved that way, but we cannot also fault his administrative style. To Dampare, his physical presence at the trouble spots will help calm nerves and ensure cordial relationship between the police and the public.
This might be his management style and we believe it has nothing to do with showboating as we are being made to believe. A good leader is the one who comes down to the level of the people without compromising on discipline.
There are so many incidents that the police did not handle well and could have resulted in a counter attack by the affected people on the police, but the presence of the IGP might have helped to stabilise the situation.
In the latest case being referenced, the students could have resorted to different ways of attacking any police personnel they see on sight, but the way the IGP interacted with them on campus might make them forgot about the incident that happened the previous day.
Our position does not mean we support the brutalities that are being meted out to the public by the police of late. We can recall Ejura, Nkroranza and a host of other places where the use of brute force by the police resulted in casualties. This is certainly not the modern way of policing and, therefore, we agree with those criticising the Islamic Senior High School incident.
But to say the IGP, making his physical presence felt at the trouble spots is a failure of his administration, we dare say is farfetched.
The Chronicle holds the view that we should rather encourage the security agencies to adopt strategies that help them to calm boiling situations. Once these strategies work for them, we should give them the benefit of the doubt to carry out their work.