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Opinions of Thursday, 3 November 2011

Columnist: Mensah, Opanin Kwabena

What A Missed Opportunity – IGP

The Inspector General of Police’s (IGP) response to a report of infraction involving a Deputy Minister of Interior concerning eight policemen subjects the Ghana Police Service into public discourse.

The national media on Saturday October 1, 2011 carried a disturbing story that one Kwabena Acheampong, believed to be the Deputy Minister of Interior (DMI) had caused the immediate arrest of some eight policemen, one of whom was suspected to have described the DMI as being stupid in reference to his behavior, as he came into contact with them. The report stated that the men, who were on an operation to check road traffic offences, accused the DMI of driving above speed limits and directed him to pull over- an allegation the DMI denied but conceded he overtook one vehicle in front of him. The minister was said to be eating Fante kenkey and lobsters at the time while his driver was over-speeding.

Following a telephone call from the DMI, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Paul Tawiah Quaye, perhaps as result of panic attack, caused the immediate arrest of the eight members of the Central Regional Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) from their various houses, sent them to Accra for incarceration. The police had explained they have, for many years, been conducting their operation at the exact point the DPI had the altercation with their colleagues and wondered why it is now a problem checking for road traffic offenders at that same stretch of the road.

By by-passing the chain of command and institutional procedures for dealing with mishaps or lapses within the Ghana Police Service, the IGP flouted rules and regulations and undermined his own authority in the agency. The IGP missed a very rare but important opportunity to put his professional training, experience, and maturity on display. This was one of the best opportunities he had to showcase the Ghana Police Service as an organization that has in place procedures for addressing swiftly and effectively professional misconduct within its ranks. He was to show both the DMI and Ghanaians that the Police organization has overcome the era where politicians in particular and some few others in general pushed its members around or used them for their own selfish interest. Instead, the IGP stooped so low to the detriment of his own organization, showed its weakest link and ultimately exposed the Ghana Police Service, for which he is the leader, to public ridicule. He succumbed to and allowed himself to be drilled, dribbled and pushed around by a politician whose only intent was to display his “dibiality” to the men for having dared to stop him. If the IGP does not see this as humiliation, I wonder what else would.

What moral right would the IGP have to direct his own men and women in uniform to follow laid down procedures to address their concerns when he himself had shown they were not necessary? Why would he expect any policeman/woman to report to his superior for and/or take instructions when he himself has shown gross disrespect to all of them? One is at odds as to why, because of a politician, policemen performing their normal duty would be arrested and treated as criminals by no mean a person other than their own top cop. Was there no other and better way of handling the situation instead of an arrest?

Is it not an offence for anyone to interfere with a public/police officer while he is performing his duty? Has people not been arrested and charged with interfering with policemen while they are performing their duties? When did the law become different for a DMI? Given the culture in which they operate, is the IGP sure that the policemen would even think of let alone dared to stop that particular car if they knew the occupant to be the DMI? It is very unfortunate that the IGP of all police personnel would behave this way to undermine the confidence reposed in him by the very organization and the public he is supposed to serve.

As for the DMI that was not the level he had to effect change. It was very far below him. His call to the IGP to report of an insult he had supposedly received from one of them is comparable to the behavior of a class one child if not that of an infant. He should have rather asked for the men to be removed from the spot, if he believed it was not safe for them to be where they were. A reasonable and responsible DMI would allow the policemen to perform their duty or go through the process without identifying himself and later report the matter to the IGP who would subsequently address the issue without the public knowing. This particular problem could be used by the Interior Ministry to review its policy or rules and regulations related to police road blocks and its relationship to safety. Instead of this “Agyaaku ba” Kwadwo Addison, who has struggled through “kookoase” to be enlightened by the Ghana Police, has been interdicted because he forgot to leave his “nkuraasesem” home and dared called a “superhuman” DMI stupid. (Given his penchant for raw language and hard words on individuals who disagree with him, is DMI Kwabena Acheampong not cursing himself for reporting and seeking punishment for the eight policemen?)

Oh how nice it would be, if the eight policemen were allowed to do their work and the DMI handed over his license to them only for them to learn later that the individual concerned is the DMI. Imagine how these guys would feel, if called to their sergeant’s office to submit their report for October 1, 2011 and in the process the DMI showed up to collect his document and shook hands with them. What a lesson in humility and obedience DMI Kwabena Acheampong would have taught all policemen and women.

Oh omo Ghana, “esimi rascality, agbalasan – eee, esimi pomposity, agbalasan –ee!!!!!” (let us humble ourselves)- What a missed opportunity IGP Tawiah Quaye.