Feature Article of Thursday, 29 January 2009
Columnist: Mensah, Opanin Kwabena
I have been compelled by some recent developments in the country with reference to some Ghana Police personnel to ask the question – Is the Ghana Police Service a professional organization?
On Friday (1/9/09) Ghanaweb carried a news item credited to the Daily Guide that one Victor Smith called Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Nana Bediako, who was in charge of Castle Security, informed him to go to the Castle and account for all vehicles in his custody. According to the report ACP Bediako said the ORDER from Mr. Smith came after he had already handed over all vehicles and the list of drivers under him to the former Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs, Kwadwo Mpiani. When Nana Bediako arrived at the Castle, one of the men reportedly told him: “You won’t leave here today.” My concern is the behavior of ACP Bediako. Who is Victor Smith to issue an ORDER to a whole Ghana ACP and he jumped and ran to meet him at the castle. ( It is believed that ACP Bediako’s speed to the Castle was so fast that he could beat Usain Boltin of Jamaica to win Ghana’s first Gold Medal in 100 meters at the Beijing Olympics in 2008). Why did ACP Bediako respond directly to Victor Smith without reference to his superiors? With what authority did Victor Smith order ACP Bediako? Is the said Victor Smith his immediate boss/supervisor? If Victor Smith wanted to know about the cars why did he not go through either Kwadwo Mpiani or the NDC personnel who took over from him? May be Victor Smith did not know who to contact. If this was the case why did not ACP Bediako simply direct him to the right person instead of jumping to follow that order? Why would any policeman/woman, more so a senior police officer, allow himself/herself to be drilled and pushed around by a civilian as contained in the statement “You won’t leave here today.” ? Is this the type of professionalism that the Ghana Police Service is made up of? May be somebody has to teach me who a professional police officer is.
Second is a news item in the Daily Guide on Thursday (1/22/09) that again puts another police officer’s judgment into a question mark. The report was that the police on Monday (1/19/09) returned two private cars belonging to a leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) after investigations proved that the vehicles were wrongfully confiscated and kept at the Korle-Bu Police Station for a week. The cars were towed in the full glare of the public from the private residence of Samuel Obiri, Director of Operations for the NPP 2008 Campaign after some supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) reported to the station that they were government vehicles.
In an earlier interview with DAILY GUIDE, Police Superintendent Ernest Mwayed of the Korle Bu Police Station explained that he had reports from some people that the NDC Chairman had asked them to report to him that Mr. Obiri was keeping government vehicles so he should go for them. Supt. Mwayed said the complainants did not provide any shred of evidence but once a report had been lodged to him, he went for the vehicles and kept them at the station. Since the report was made, the complainants had not returned to the station to provide any evidence or explain the basis on which they claimed that the said vehicles belonged to the government.
Oh Ghana Police Superintendent Ernest Mwayed this was far below the belt. Are you saying that with your education, training and years of experience in the Ghana Police Service all you could do was just following any order without a question? Are you a “zombie” (apologies to Fela Ransome Kuti) At least you could verify who that NDC chairman was: - polling station, ward, sub-metro, constituency, regional, national or a vice-chairman. Look at the embarrassment you have brought to yourself for failing to question the source of and the validity of the information. What prevented you from investigating before taking the said action? Even if it was a highly placed politician did you have to follow an order from a civilian? It must be noted that the report did not say a crime was being committed. It was based on suspicion that a property believed to belong to Ghana Government had been sighted on someone’s premises. A professionally trained police officer, who wants to know the truth, would first gather appropriate data, validate the information and if there was the need to visit the said premises cover him/herself up with a court warrant before doing so. As it stands now your irrational behavior has put the police at the risk of paying damages should the individual concerned decide to resort to legal action to recover his property. If your boss were to act professionally, your uniform, record or title/position would be on the line on grounds of poor judgment.
In an unrelated incident (reported on 1/21/09) when the Northern Regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Alhaji Sumani Zakari, assumed the role of Regional Minister ordering the bosses at both the Department of Feeder Roads and Highways in Tamale to cease awarding contracts among other orders, the Regional Director of the Ghana Highway Authority, Emmanuel Preko, wondered why the chairman and his aides decided to take undue advantage of the political climate to do what they did, calling on the authorities to educate such persons since their conduct was counterproductive to the growth of the country and democracy. Mr. Preko promised to disregard the directives from the NDC chairman and his aides since they did not employ him and so had no power to give him orders.
This is how a professional and a responsible man/woman are to act. Mr. Preko, a civil servant, exhumed confidence and self worth in the face of a similar situation. He knows who he is and the authority within which he operates. For far too long our police personnel have allowed themselves to be mal-treated and misused by politicians and some foolish rich men and women in our society. Any person would just walk up to a police personnel and order the arrest of an innocent, unconnected and a poor Ghanaian or political opponent and without a question the order is carried out. As a result some honest and decent Ghanaians have suffered undue hardships and irreparable damages. The guilty ones are the senior officers who for whatever reasons fail to defend the rank and file especially where a so-called “big man or madam” is concerned. When is the Ghana Police personnel going to wake up and show Ghanaians that they had had enough of being used to settle both political and personal scores?
Every profession has its own code of conduct and the way it relates to the public. Erring personnel is dealt with according to the rules and regulations governing the profession or an agency. It is not legal and very dangerous for a non agent to go into an organization to give orders. The best the individual could do would be to lodge a complaint. This is the norm. Complaints are to be investigated and appropriate action taken. It appears the Ghana Police Service personnel have a problem differentiating between complaints and order as can be seen in the behavior of both ACP Bediako and Supt. Ernest Mwayed.
It is disturbing to watch Ghana Police personnel allow themselves to be used by politicians and some people in the society. They should stand up to their profession and project an image of knowledge, self-respect and self-confidence. It is only for low-self esteem that a police officer would believe that he could be fired by any politician. Someone would threaten a police officer with the loss of the job based on ones connection to a senior officer or some imaginary politician but if the command structure knows its duty nothing would happen. Not even the President of Ghana, let alone, any other politician can order the dismissal of any police personnel. The President is limited to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who he appoints on the advice of the Police Council. All others are fired, demoted or promoted based on their professional competence. If you were not employed by or do not report to a Politian how could s/he order you or recommend your dismissal?
The Ghana Police Service needs to rethink of its relationship with Ghanaians. The dark days of Nkrumah’s Preventive Detention Act (PDA) are over. Military rule has given way to civilian administration. Ghanaians now know better. Very soon individuals would drag the Ghana Police Service to court and successfully argue their cases against them. If they continue to allow themselves to be used by people, they would be the losers. At that time there would be no “Gyae ma no nka” Is the Ghana Police Service a professional organization? At least not through the behavior of both ACP Bediako and Superintendent Ernest Mwayed.
OPANIN KWABENA MENSAH