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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Columnist: Joseph Ankamah

Ejura killings

The youth of Ejura peacefully protesting The youth of Ejura peacefully protesting

The events of these couple of days push us to demand responsibility from state institutions to ensure that perpetrators of horrendous crimes are brought to book, seeking justice for the affected, and to ensure that these atrocities do not perpetuate in a civilized society.

It should be a matter of concern if citizens do not feel fully protected to the extent that threats of death really materialize into reality. Ibrahim Mohammed (Kaaka Macho) from all accounts was threatened along with his civil responsibility of activism; it is thus very unfortunate that such advances had to painfully result in his death.

In as much as we recognize that the police work under limited resources and personnel, they unreservedly owe it a responsibility to ensure the safety of all citizens, and to act promptly on any leads received.

The issues become complicated when in the midst of a crime committed, innocent civilians who set out to demonstrate their frustration in a murder case is themselves victims of a shootout. Global Dignity Forum (GLODIF) appreciates the enormous work of the security agencies to ensure that law and order are maintained in such circumstances of societal upheaval, however when lives are lost in the line of their duty, it becomes very disturbing.

In as much as we commend our security personnel for putting their lives on the line to protect the populace, we encourage them to be guided by the principles of human dignity, respecting local and international laws which make provision for the upholding and safeguarding of humans lives as stipulated in Chapter 5 Clause 13(1) of our constitution, and article 3 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We, therefore, condemn the sporadic shootings that led to the deaths of innocent people. We hope the security agencies would ultimately be fully guided by the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms as adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba (1990).

We call on the populace to also exercise restraint at all times, and not to emotionally react to incidents in a manner that would jeopardize the peace enjoyed in our communities. When there is a wrongful act, appropriate channels should be used to address grievances rather than act in a manner that almost necessitates a response from the security agencies.

Members of the public must be conscious of the fact that the security agencies have been trained in a manner that prompts them to react in a certain proportionate manner to perceived threats; it is for this reason that we advise the public to make use of the Public Order ACT, 1994 (ACT 491).

We also entreat the public to fruitfully engage the police and offer them vital information that would aid their work in all circumstances to better protect us.

It is refreshing to know that the government through the Ministry of Interior has set up a committee to investigate the circumstances leading to the death and injury of some inhabitants of Ejura. However it is our wish that the findings of this committee are not ‘swept under the carpet’ as often seen in the past, rather the findings should lead to reforms in all sectors of the security apparatus, with people deemed to have contravened standard security protocol duly sanctioned.

It is also our desire to see that families and individuals who suffered losses during the security forces engaged with the populace in any form are appropriately compensated.

In conclusion, we wish to suggest that the Ministry of Interior decouples police operations from the role of the military in maintaining law and order in our communities. This is because it has been observed from documentary analysis that the military (military police inclusive) when invited too often to support in matters of internal security continues to generate needless resentment from the public due to the manner in which the military goes about its operations.

It is about time the police totally took charge of matters of internal security. This is to say that, more specialized units should be created, trained in community policing, and resourced to handle overwhelming sophisticated situations in the country rather than rely on our gallant soldiers who are basically trained to function aggressively towards external security threats.