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Opinions of Tuesday, 20 July 2004

Columnist: Agyemang, Nana

LFTP: Nonsense Police - A Rejoinder

I read with interest the comments raised in your article (Letter From The President: Nonsense Police)on the above. My interest is primarily on two fronts; first on your ignorance and apparent lack of knowledge on issues pertaining to the Police Service, and your myopic perception of the leadership of the Police Service. This is very sad, as you are the ?President? of Sikaman.

As much as I agree with you on some assertions made in your article, it is worthy to note that your blatant lack of knowledge on most of the issues you have raised mirrors how ignorant we are as a people on issues we normally want to comment about (including you ?Your Excellency?).

?Your Excellency?, if you have taken pains to have a look at the 1992 Constitution and other laws pertaining to the Police, you would have realized that the Police is only mandated to enforce laws and NOT to make them. The day-to-day administration of the Police is entrusted in the hands of the Police Council. What this means is that the IGP, who is the highest Police Officer, and entrusted the policing of our Nation by the President is subject to the Council, for all administrative decisions. I am sure ?Your Excellency? realizes the implications of this. (And we still wonder why it is still the case.) If bad laws are made the Police will enforce them, and must not be blamed for such laws. This brings me to some of the issues you raised in your article. As much as I do not want to appear to be defending anyone, as a Policeman myself, I think it is fair that I educate the likes of you, who must know better; about the erroneous perceptions we have about the police. I will address each of the issues you raised, and maybe you and you may have a better perspective of our dear institution, whose image has been dragged in the mud for too long.

First, I would not want to say anything about the Officer in question as his track record is there for everyone to peruse. The only question I have for him is: when did he realize the Service needed a new leadership? Is it because he is no more stationed at the Headquarters? Or is it because he now has lost the power he possessed? Well since the issue is before a disciplinary board I will rest my case, however I have to stress that a disciplinary board is not to punish people alone but a forum for one to prove his innocence as well. He is neither the first nor will he be the last to appear before one.

Yes, you said, ?the Police Service is ONE of the most corrupt and inefficient organs of our state? (emphasis mine). Am happy you did not say the most corrupt and most inefficient, but only one of them. Maybe you will be kind to provide the rest of such state organs and what accounts for their perceived corruptness and inefficiency. A good answer will afford us, as a Nation, a clue to the solution of this problem. Well, ?Your Excellency? and all the good people of Sikaman can tell the whole world who corrupts the Police Officer and makes him inefficient. It is only a corrupt nation that corrupts its citizenry (of course the Policemen is a citizen and not an alien)

True, Ghanaians may not respect the Police, but whose fault is it? It is our collective responsibility as a nation to make sure that all state organs have goals that are consistent with our National aspirations. I dare ask how many of us have been bold to ask for or lobbied or agitated for the institution of a Police culture that is consistent with our national aspirations. For the past twenty years or so the Police Service, which should have been one of our essential state organs was the most neglected, yet we all stood by and said nothing. Thank God we can now speak, so we still batter the Police without doing anything to help raise its sunken image. People are only interested in the Police when we are affected by something the Police is handling or affects them, but I guess it is high time all of the people of our dear nation, rise and demand a Police Service it deserves. One that we will have a say in the kind of persons we want hired, how they are trained, how it must be structured, resourced and where the funding will come from. That is when, we can make our voices heard when they go wrong, because that will be inconsistent with their set goals. Presently the Police is desperately trying to use yesterdays solutions for tomorrow?s problems because as a Nation we have failed to change or modify what the British left us after independence (they have and are still changing theirs though).

I am sorry that ?Your Excellency? must make such a cheap swipe at your Police Service. Judging from the resources at their disposal, I think our Police Service is one of the most efficient in the world, and has been able to solve once a many complex crime; the solution of the serial murders of women is one in the recent past.

Your mention of the stadium disaster brings back memories we all want to forget but since ?Your Excellency? mentions, it I will give you my take; As much as we all regret this tragedy, it is pertinent to state here that, your own words absolve the Police of all blame. ?Right under their noses, spectators decided to break and hurl plastics unto the playing pitch,? This suggest how indispline and reckless we have been as a people. If we cannot protect our National assets and destroy them, do we have to blame the Police who are paid to protect life and property to do just that? The Police had no access into the stands where the plastics were coming from and as ill equipped as they were, they used the only available resource. But I daresay that, if someone had done his job; and made sure all the exit gates at the stadium were opened and the floodlights had not been switched off, I am sure not a single soul would have been lost. But what do we hear? Everyone blames the Police for doing their job. What hypocrisy, when all the excerpts of radio commentaries monitored accused the Police of inaction, minutes before they resorted to use the tear gas. We must not always look for scapegoats in instances as this but rather draw meaningful conclusions based on facts rather than sentiments. (In any case what is a DISASTER? Somebody tell me !!!.)

Let us be honest, we as a Nation is gradually and increasingly becoming impatient, indisciplined, reckless and unpatriotic. If you claim people will commit a crime in front of a Police officer, drunken driving on our roads etc, then why do we blame only a section of the public? Is it because they wear a uniform or is it merely because they are the Police and each person has a right to vilify them.

I am sad to hear? Your Excellency? say that the high rate of crime was brought down only with the help of the Abongo Boys, some years ago because the Police was not efficient. You want to know why? Well it is because; at that time the Police Service was so under resourced and not motivated enough to do any meaningful policing. Even though the present Government is trying to see to the needs of the Police Service, much more should be done, as the over twenty years of neglect by all of us in Sikaman, has taken its toll on the Police and a long term strategy of reequipping and resourcing the Police is our only alternative as a Nation.

Let me ask you this ?Your Excellency?; what happens when your wife goes to the market or to her office in your official car? Or what happens when children of Minister?s, and other public servants are dropped to school in their official vehicles? OK. But for the poor Policeman it is never OK because he is seen to be the least of all public servants. Excuse me, but we have Police officers who have comparable or better academic qualification as any of our civil or public servants we put in high esteem, and must therefore enjoy some of the pecks that go with their job. Until we recognize the import of the Police officer and make his working conditions conducive we might have to live with some of these things as ?what is good for the goose is good for the gander. We cannot all be the President, neither can we all be Ministers, so please ?Mr. President? let us enjoy the pecks of our office small.

?Your Excellency? you have by this article exposed your gross ignorance about our police system. You have appointed a Council and a Minister to Administer our service, making the IGP only a ?Simpa Payin? yet you will not allow him to take the simple decisions he must. Both the Council and the Minister are your own representatives, and as long as they we are willing to administer the Service with a new vision, yes we will all help turn the service round into a world class crime fighting institution. ?Mr President? the ball is your court. I do not think you will want to let us down as we do hold you in high esteem, and pray that you will not send us back where we were a couple of years ago. Please, you have appointed an IGP you deem very competent for that position, so please let him do his job, and stop interfering, as you cannot do everything by yourself. Leave the IGP and his aides in peace to Police us but rather empower and equip them adequately to deal with their expected functions.

For me, they have done extremely well under the circumstances to get us this far. However, it is heartwarming to learn from your piece, how ignorant you are as the first person of Sikaman, and will never be surprised when others, far lower than you in the national ladder also make such ignorant remarks to show the whole world how little or no knowledge they have about our security services.

Please ?Your Excellency?, let the Police Service take its own steps to solve its internal problems, as such irresponsible remarks from high-ranking officials like you undermine the discipline in our security services, hence their perceived mediocrity. Let me assure you that our service is one of the best in the world as can be gleaned from the record our servicemen and women serving with the UN and other international organizations.

Mr. President? I am done, have a blessed day, and stop exposing your ignorance on issues you know next to nothing about. Let the due process apply. Thank you for you time.

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