Editorial: Why Our Chiefs Should Be Searched By Police, GIS

On April 24, this year, the state owned Daily Graphic reported that some paramount chiefs constituting the Volta Regional House of Chiefs (VRHC) had bitterly complained about harassment and bullying at the hands of personnel of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) in recent times at the Sogakope and Asikuma inland checkpoints in the Volta and Eastern regions respectively.

The paper mentioned names of the complaining  paramount Chiefs as Amugo-Vego, Togbi Tenge Dzokoto Gligui VII; Paramount Chief of Tefle, Togbe Dugbaza VIII and Paramount Chief of Akoefe, Togbe Drake Tsigbe IV.

According to the Graphic report, the first to express his misgivings when the house met the Minister for Chieftaincy Affairs was Togbi Gligui. He cited an instance on Easter Monday, this year, when he was travelling with three of his brothers, three children and his sister from Anyako to Accra on his mini van, which he was driving with a bold inscription, “Amugo-Vego Traditional Authority (North Anlo).”

Togbi Gligui, who is also Dufia of Anyako and Head of the Anlo-Bate Clan said on reaching  Sogakope in-land checkpoint by the Sogakope Bridge, the GIS personnel signalled him to stop. He obeyed and rolled down the glass.

He said although he was in his full regalia and royal headgear, the GIS personnel insisted the back door of the van be opened for them to conduct a search and one of his children swiftly carried out that order.

As if that was not enough, the paramount chief said the GIS personnel demanded to see his passport as proof of his Ghanaian nationality. “At this juncture, I got out of the vehicle and insisted on meeting the officer in charge at the checkpoint, before they told me rudely to go,” he added.
In the case of Togbe Dugbaza, he said anytime he was commuting from Tefle to Sogakope, he was stopped and grilled over his identity while in his royal gear, adding that he found it demeaning to his status as a paramount chief of the area.

Because of our culture and tradition, which we have practiced for centuries, chiefs are highly revered in this country. It was, therefore, a complete disrespect for the GIS officials to have asked the chief to produce his passport. We stand to be corrected, but we do not think there is any law that states that Ghanaians should carry their passports along whilst traveling within the country.

In our view therefore, the said GIS officials should have been fished out to explain why he was asking the chief to produce his passport. As the chief himself pointed out to the Chieftaincy Minister, the conduct of the immigration officer to the extent of rudely asking him to go when he decided to challenge him for asking for his passport was a complete show of disrespect to a chief.

We do not, however, think the immigration officer erred when he stopped the chief and asked him to open the trunk of his car. The basis for our argument is the recent arrest of the driver driving a Toyota Hiace belonging to the Anlo Traditional Council.

Though Anlo Traditional Council had boldly been written on the mini bus, the driver was still using it to smuggle cocoa to Togo, but was fortunately arrested at the Adomi-Bridge after a hot chase by the police.

Cocoa is the backbone of our national economy, but unfortunately, unscrupulous characters have been smuggling the commodity to our neighbouring countries without looking at the economic implications. In this case we have just mentioned, if the police had given respect to the minis bus because it belongs to the Anlo Traditional Council, the smugglers would have succeeded in achieving their aim.

In the advanced countries such as USA, Germany and Britain among others, security personnel have no respect for individuals when it comes to enforcement of the law. Unfortunately and as we alluded to earlier, because of the respect we have for our chiefs, the laws are sometimes relaxed for them.

Regrettably, some of them are trying to take advantage of the respect society have for them by abusing the law. We must admit though that the Anlo Traditional Council did not certainly sanction the driver to smuggle cocoa with their mini bus to Togo.

It is, therefore, the hope of The Chronicle that the law will deal ruthlessly with the erring driver when fund guilty to serve as deterrent to others.

The case we are referencing should also serve as a wakeup call for the security agencies to show respect to our revered chiefs, but not compromising on what the law mandates them to do. Another area the police should also focus their attention on is those driving the Landcruisers.

The respect for them is too much and they can take advantage of the situation to also abuse the law, as the driver of the Anlo Traditional Council has done.


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