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Our police and us in an era of kidnapping

BY: Collin Essamuah
From left: Priscilla Koranchie, Priscilla Blessing Bentum and Ruth Quayson
From left: Priscilla Koranchie, Priscilla Blessing Bentum and Ruth Quayson

My devoted readers would know that I believe in law and order and been a champion and defender of police causes.

But recent events have caused in me grave doubts about the work of the Ghana police.

For instance, I never understood the legal motive for a policeman to forcibly enter a vehicle to caution or stop the driver for an infraction or two and similar senseless cases which have in sum created a new subject in effective policing; democratic policing.

These senseless instances of the use of raw but rough and crude state power have been our lot for ages without our leaders caring enough to do something about it.

I am not even sure whether a political pledge to stop such acts which demean policing in the eyes of citizens will sell politically else one party or another would have promised such long ago.

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We accept police maltreatment as our lot in life, but it should not be so.

The victim of police maltreatment in the previous regime has just died and because we cannot ascribe earlier police maltreatment as the legal cause years after the event, we are reduced to sixes and sevens in assessing the discrete impact of politicised violence in the society.

The current cases of kidnapping and their handling by our police would seem to suggest the police is not worth trusting to ensure a safe society for us.

Kidnapping does occur in Ghana but the recent kidnapping of young girls in the Takoradi area and the seeming inability of our police to solve them have put the issue of policing in general on the front burner.

I have already some months ago written about the ineptitude of the Western Regional police leadership and have called on the minister, Mr Ambrose Dery to do something by way of disciplinary sanctions about it but that has not been done. I doubt even if Mr Dery has devoted a full press conference to this worrying crime in the polity of late.

Recent happenings

But it would appear from recent happenings on the police front it seems a meltdown of personal security is happening right before our eyes. What is our government doing about it?

The recently thrice-promoted head of the Criminal Investigations Department has not helped the concept and image of policing in Ghana with her regrettable flip-flops on the subject, seemingly blissfully unaware of the wrenching traumas this posture has caused to the nation and policing itself.

The revelatory claims by the security expert Adam Bonnah on the kidnappings are mind boggling if true.

The idea that our government is negotiating with kidnappers of Ghanaian citizens can only be confirmed or denied by officialdom but complete silence has met this revelation.

Do we really care about freedom for the victims and closure for all of us? What interest can realistically be realised with such a murderous mindset?

I remember clearly the discovery of dead women’s bodies before the 2000 elections, the pointing of fingers at the responsibility of the Rawlings presidency.

I remember the assertion by the then chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party, Samuel Odoi-Sykes, that if Ghanaians voted for his party, the killings and gruesome discoveries would end.

So it did.

As I write, I have not come across any comprehensive report on this unique event which from an interesting part of the 2000 elections which first brought the NPP to power under President John Kufuor.

Mr. Bonnah confidently asserts that the previous boss of the Bureau of National Investigations has been relieved of his position because of the murky developments in the kidnapping cases but here too, no official confirmation or denial is forthcoming.

This official silence is not good also for our political leaders, and our police.

The idea which has seized the knowledgeable Mr Bonnah that either political leaders or some security capos are playing games with us appears difficult to accept but the absence of consistent, believable engagement by officialdom means we are left with nothing but that.

Why should our political leaders who are all fathers and mothers who for that reason alone should have applied more than the current perfunctory official interest, be accused of nonchalance when Ghanaian girls have been kidnapped for months?

Who becomes next IGP?

The matter is worsened by the current interest in who becomes the next head of the police in a few month’s time.

The current Inspector-General of Police, David Asante-Appiatu, would have a bad record because the kidnappings and their handling and investigation processes begun under his watch.

The sly references to her interest in this position by the beleaguered Commissioner of CID have rather painted her as someone interested in form, but not substance.

All these have succeeded in creating doubts about the real concerns of our top police officials, leaving the real work to pursue personal preferment, and condemning the parents victims relatives and Ghanaians in general to watching this shockingly plain personal ambition.

We certainly deserve far better than this display of crassness from our top cops.

The earlier they all got to work on this gut-wrenching kidnapping the better it would be for our respect for the police and allied agencies charged with finding the girls.