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General News of Tuesday, 5 June 2018


Passenger endures 8 hours of police torture as officers extort ¢500 through mobile money

Five police officers left a private citizen traumatised after he was arrested on a trumped-up charge of possessing wee in order to extort money from him.

Behestine Kromah recalled his ordeal with renewed shock when he was psychologically tortured, physically harassed and emotionally drained during his 8-hour tribulation with the police.

The husband and father of two was travelling to Accra on February 20, 2018 after visiting his family in Aflao in the Volta Region.

In a 12-seater bus, the Behestine Kromah buried his head in his books as he prepares for IPMC exams in Accra.

But during the routine journey in the safety of numbers, police officers stationed opposite Central University in Prampram stopped the bus for what many thought was a normal security check.

But Behestine Kromah said the officers zoomed in on him and picked him out for a search. They searched his pockets and took his bag.

Surprised but not shaken yet, he said he cooperated because there was nothing to fear or hide from the officers.

But when he was soon accused of carrying wee, his countenance responded in disbelief bothering on a joke.

The police talked down on him after he asked them to show him proof. The police officers then directed the bus to speed off to Accra.

Left with the officers, Behestine Kromah said he began to suspect his weird rasta may have made him a victim of negative profiling.

Five against one, the officers harrased him and threatened to have him jailed as his attempt to apply reason with the officers proved to particularly worsen his case.

The officers whose name tags were removed proposed 2,000 cedis to free an innocent man. But the police would not go any lower than 1,600cedis.

He tried to offer his slightly used Samsung Galaxy phone as a ransom but he said this infuriated the officers had claimed they used far superior mobile phones.

When the police came up with the idea they were going to call his mother to report wee possession and demand payment for his release, Behestine Kromah said they had crossed the limits of his endurance.

Broken, the father said he began crying because such negative news about his son could send a mother diagnosed with high blood pressure into a medical situation.

Tears, sighs, more tears, more sighs and even more begging did nothing to negotiate his release except he met the financial demand.

He remembered he had GHS 500 on his MTN Mobile money wallet and his torturers very dissatified with the amount nonetheless took his PIN and transferred the cash.

After eight hours during which time the Police officers drove him back to Ada to have supper, he was released. He had no money, no mobile phone and it was 11 p.m.

It took more begging of any driver he could stop to get a ride to Aflao and back to his family in Volta Region.

After putting himself back together in the comforting company of his family, Behestine set off for Accra days later to get justice.

His first stop was at the PIPS office at the Police headquarters.

His only evidence of harassment and extortion was a print out from MTN showing money was transferred to a wallet belonging to a Lance Corporal.

The police officers denied accusing him of possession wee and said he was arrested for resisting arrest. They explained the mobile money transfer was done as payment for a phone the victim damaged while struggling with the officers.

But soon as investigations continued the officers succumbed to a confession and tried to use third parties to prevail on the victim to drop the case.

Behestine Kromah said he would have let everything go but for the callous involvement of his sick mother. He refused to give in.

But Mr. Kromah said he noticed that the officer in charge at PIPS began dragging his feet.

The police officer would set up a meeting but fail to show up.

Behestine said he proceeded to go report at CHRAJ as he felt the officer at PIPS may have been compromised.

At CHRAJ, he was told to allow PIPS to 'make the case a foolish case' which could be stronger grounds of administrative injustice.

When Joy News' Bernice Abu-Baidoo encountered Behestine Kromah, she helped escalate the matter to COP Kofi Boakye, the Director-General at PIPS.

His fury fastracked matters in a country of weak institutions and strong men.

The case was handed to a different police officer to investigate and report within 48 hours.

The unprofessional police officers have been arrested as they prepare to face police enquiry proceedings which could see them stripped of the uniform.

In his wrath, COP Kofi Boakye has vowed to get to the bottom of the matter. It is an anger that momentarily assuages Behestine Kromah's pain.

He feels that after three months, the arc of the moral universe which is long but bends towards justice, is bending towards him.