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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

Ei! IGP Mr. Dampare, have you heard of this case, please?

Inspector-General of Police, Mr. George Akuffo Dampare Inspector-General of Police, Mr. George Akuffo Dampare

I am amused to find that my contemporary columnist, Elizabeth Ohene, is puzzled by the fact that our new Inspector-General of Police, Mr. George Akuffo Dampare,
recently organised a meeting between the management of the Ghana Police Service and eleven “celebrities” of Ghana.

In an article published on the website of JoyNews on November 18, 2021, Ms. Ohene said:

QUOTE: I am not sure how the IGP came by his list of celebrities that he invited to the meeting with the Police management. I notice that there have been some complaints that some people, deemed to be celebrities, were not invited to the meeting.

“I have since then been trying to work out how one qualifies to be regarded as a celebrity. The concept of celebrity is of course, quite modern and I concede that my regular source of finding definitions, which is a dictionary, might not be suitable.

So, I went to Google and of all the definitions given of celebrity, I have decided on: “a condition of fame and broad public recognition of an individual or group as a result of the attention given to them by the mass media.”

“The important bit must surely be 'the attention given to them by the mass media'."

I had of course been brought up and had led my life thinking that to be famous, you had to be great, but now it turns out you don’t need to have done anything important or for the good of this world to become famous. UNQUOTE (EMPHASIS ADDED)

Ms. Ohene could equally have been puzzled – as I have been – by the publicity that has been accorded Mr. Dampare himself since he was appointed IGP in August 2021. Certainly, the appointments he has held and the qualifications that led to his receiving them are pretty impressive; viz: Dampare entered the police service 32 years ago, as “a constable, at the age of 20.” He rose to become “the Director-General in charge of Operations of the Ghana Police Service” before being appointed to the top post of IGP.

Dampare “rose through the ranks, after completing various courses to become an ACCA chartered accountant.” He also worked as a “Research Fellow and lecturer at King’s College, University of London.” He further “lectured at the University of Cape-Coast (UCC), Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Regent University College, and the Data Link University College.”

In addition, he is “one of the pioneer lecturers at the Business School of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi."

He has served as the Director-General of Finance, Director-General in charge of Welfare, Director-General of Information Communication Technology, Commandant of the Police Command and Staff College, Accra Region Police Commander, Director-General, Administration,” among other positions. He "currently holds a Ph.D. in Finance.” Etc. etc.

I am sure that with this amazing background, Dr. Dampare has acquired enough experience to suss out that qualifications and past appointments alone won't help him to improve the Ghana police service in such a way that the Ghanaian populace can repose total confidence in the service.

From the outside, the biggest problem the service currently faces is corruption. Many of the ghastly accidents we see on our roads occur because (1) for money, police officers can overlook serious defects in the motor vehicles that ply our roads; (2) for money, the police can neglect to enforce the laws regarding the licensing of drivers; and that for money, the police can look on unconcerned as commercial drivers overload their vehicles.

These factors that contribute to the lack of confidence by the public in the police service cannot be eliminated with mere qualifications. They will vanish only when the top police machinery evolves and strictly enforces modern methods of checking police corruption and abuse.

Body-cameras that cannot be interfered with by the wearer; strict, unwavering codes that govern interactions between police personnel and the public; technical training of police officers to a point where they can quickly detect defects in motor vehicles – these are some of the improvements in police efficiency that will impress the public and induce them to provide information freely to the police to enable them to carry out their duties.

But, as far as I am concerned, the greatest improvement will come when the police service does not regard the public with indifference. I have personally been writing and writing and writing about a case that, to me, demonstrates that the police service does not care at all about public opinion in this country.

In November 2010 – that is eleven years ago – Madam Ama Hemmah, a 72-year-old woman, was burnt alive at Tema for allegedly being “a witch.” In several articles, I have been asking the Police Service, the Minister of the Interior [who is responsible for the force], and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice [who is in charge of prosecuting criminals] to present the country with a full and truthful account of progress made in prosecuting the old woman's murderers. Here are full facts of the case:

QUOTE: “A 72-year-old Ghanaian woman has been burned to death on suspicion of being a witch. Ama Hemmah was allegedly tortured into confessing she was a witch, doused in kerosene, and set alight. She suffered horrific burns and died the following day.... Hemmah was allegedly attacked by a group of five people, one of whom is an evangelical pastor, Ghana's Daily Graphic reported.

“Three women and two men have been arrested. They are Nancy Nana Ama Akrofie, 46, photographer Samuel Ghunney, 50, Emelia Opoku, 37, Mary Sagoe, 52, and Pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55. The suspects say the death was an accident and deny committing any crime. They claimed they were trying to exorcise an evil spirit from the woman by rubbing anointing oil on her, but it accidentally caught fire.

“Augustine Gyening, Assistant Police Commissioner, told the Daily Graphic that Sagoe saw Hemmah sitting in his sister's bedroom on 20 November [2010] and raised an alarm, attracting the attention of people in the neighbourhood.

Gyening added that the suspects claimed that Hemmah was a known witch and subjected her to severe torture, compelling her to confess. He said Ghunney then asked Opoku for a gallon of kerosene and with the help of his accomplices, poured it over the victim and set her ablaze.” UNQUOTE

Dr. Dampare, I am afraid that if you too – like your predecessors as IGP – close your eyes to this case, you would have failed in your duty to protect life and property in Ghana; you would have thrown to the winds, the need to prevent crime by educating the populace not to take the law into their own hands; and you would, as a result of all that, have rendered useless, all your brilliant qualifications as well as the enormous experience you have acquired in the Police Service.