You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2017 05 13Article 537408

Opinions of Saturday, 13 May 2017

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

A big blow to the job of ending galamsey

Ghanaians have become so cynical these days – and with very good reason – that they suspect something is grossly amiss when they don't immediately see what they think they ought to be seeing.

So, when a friend of mine read the Daily Guide editorial
entitled “She Who Must be Obeyed”,
she immediately asked me, “What do they know that we don't know?”

The reason why she asked that is this: In the H Rider Haggard novel, She, in which the term “She Who Must Be Obeyed” first appears, the heroine, Ayesha, is a very beautiful woman who has been cursed not to die until her dead lover is reincarnated and comes back to be intimate with her again. In the mean time, she rules as Queen over an African tribe. She rules them with an iron hand and is able to do this because she has eyes everywhere, Also, her incalculably great age enables her to exert powers brought to her by her first-hand knowledge of every aspect of the lives of her subjects. “How does she know that about me?” they wonder. And fear makes them turn into her mental slaves for ever. If SHE says you must die, the tribe will put you to death. So they called her “SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED”! (Not that they knew her other name was Ayesha.)

So when a Chinese “beauty” came floating like a mysterious bird over the galamsey scene in Ghana, someone very bright at the Daily Guide connected her attributes to those of “Ayesha” or “She Who Must Be Obeyed.” For if the Chinese “beauty” was not so powerful, how come she – and incredibly, her apparent “double” – were living as free operators in Ghana when:
the security services (who must, as a routine measure, keep an eye on all foreigners, especially those suspected of illegal activities) had not been able to collect enough evidence against them with regard to the mass importation of Chinese men – and women! – into Ghana to help in their galamsey operations?

2. One of the “beauties” was alleged to have set “very dangerous dogs” on the security personnel who went to her home in a Kumase suburb to arrest her. Yet she was not charged with endangering the lives of public officers! Imagine a Ghanaian doing hat. Armoured cars could have been summoned to raze the place to the ground.

3 One of the “beauties” had been previously arrested in connection with several guns found in her home and in her “luxurious car.”

These details were leaked to the media by police and/or immigration officers. Yet, although it is a serious enough offence to possess arms without lawful authority, and also, more suspicion-arousing still, when those arms are found in the secret possession of a foreigner, the offence did not result in a conviction after due prosecution! New questions thus arise: how did the arms get into the country in the first place? What happened to the rest of the arms in the consignment that could simultaneously have been imported, probably illegally, into the country?

Now, we do make a lot of noise when a couple of ex-prisoners who have had the venom beaten out of them at Guantánamo, are brought to live in our midst. But when a madam of unknown origins arrives in Ghana and begins to dangle dangerous dogs and arms in front of our security officials, we don't move a muscle?

Our officials are security-conscious, aren't they? Bring South Africans into the country to train your bodyguards in an election campaign forecast to be tough, and national security is all over you. But bring in Chinese madams who import guns and flaunt dangerous dogs, and no-one flickers an eyelid. We shouldn't dismiss these lapses just because they occurred under the admittedly somnolent watch of Mr John Mahama. If it happened under him, it could happen under anyone else. For it metamorphoses into a matter of national police/immigration culture. And that stays when political regimes change.

Another question: who enabled the “beauties” to obtain visas to enter and operate in Ghana? To obtain a visa for a foreigner, one must [usually] provide documentary evidence that one would be responsible for them while they are in the country. Who signed guarantee papers for the Chinese and provided them with the addresses where they were supposed to be residing [“no post office boxes acceptable]? Is it true that one of the “beauties” has a marriage certificate with the name of a Ghanaian male on it?

If it is true, as the media have reported, that a journalist, Mr Week Baako, had come across some of the obscene photos allegedly organised by the “beauties” and their acolytes to blackmail Ghanaian officials,

how come the security authorities have not come across these diabolical instruments of blackmail? Isn't blackmail a crime under our laws? Or, are senior police officers and other high figures in the Ghanaian Establishment victims of the blackmail game themselves and therefore are in no position to seriously investigate them?

These are some of the elementary questions that the Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, ought to be asking his top officers. For as I say, the Ghanaian public has become extremely cynical about their, police service. One of them said: “The police make a song and dance about arrests of dubious characters. It lasts for a couple of days or maybe a week or two. Then, the rest is silence.

They make the song and dance for two reasons – first, they want to show their political bosses that they are working very hard to end crime. Or that they want to frighten the alleged culprits so that if the alleged culprits want to “beg” the police to be lenient on them, the expected “gifts” of appreciation which they would shower on the police, would be suitably valuable. “You see, we are taking a big risk in helping you because the case has received so much publicity!” is the implied bargaining chip from the police side.

Is this the type of police service we want to have in this country? It may well be that all this is pure speculation, but the cap fits the police too well for them to be spared from wearing it. The police of all institutions should know that where there is a vacuum of information, rumour-warmongering spreads its wings far and wide over the real facts. And when that happens, the figure “one” would have become “ten” before anyone can blink, and the colour blue would have taken on all the hues of the rainbow and even become translucent.

I am painfully aware that it is the habit of the Ghana police to treat information-seekers with absolute contempt. For, in 2010, that is seven good years ago, a 72-year-old woman by the name Amma Hemaa was burnt to death at Tema by people who took her to be a witch.

All she had done, no doubt after a severe onset of a of Alzheimer's disease, was to enter someone else's bedroom and try to sleep on a bed she found. She had been on the way to see her son, and as diseased minds often deceive people into believing, she thought she had arrived at her son's home and had been assigned a nice bed to sleep on.

Under the alleged influence of a pastor, kerosine was poured on this hapless grandmother and she was set alight. She died.

Some people were arrested. They appeared in court a few times. The police outlined a strong case against them. And then the case vanished from the newspapers. As far as I know, I am the only Ghanaian journalist who has persisted in asking the police questions about the case.

Where are the culprits? What have the courts decided about their crime?
Silence from the police. Absolute, unbelievable, arrogant silence about a case that had been featured on the front page of the largest daily in Ghana, and had even made it to the columns of foreign newspapers. And, of course – as the police could have accurately predicted – no curiosity whatsoever about the course of the case, by my fellow journalists of Ghana.

So, should I be surprised that so often, we hear that the police, or the immigration service, has arrested Chinese galamseyers and we then hear – NOTHING?

That's why we can have a foreign woman come to live in Ghana and be feared as “SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED.“

“Obeyed” by whom for what? Is the oath of allegiance sworn by the IGP and the Minister of the Interior, directed to the Government and people of Ghana, or to rosy-lipped seductresses from elsewhere?

We await answers.