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Opinions of Friday, 6 January 2012

Columnist: Appiah, Kofi

Microscopic View Of The Ghana Police

(PART 1)

The Ghana Police Service is one particular security outfit that needs very good commendation but because some of their top brass have been embroiled with partisan politics they would not win public confidence. Also, a section of the top hierarchy and some large numbers of the NCOs have enviously won the covetous 1st Class Honours in Bribery & Corruption from the Havard University with none securing the 2nd Class Upper; and this reputation cannot be wished away and competed with anybody in the civil and public services of Ghana. The human institution called Ghana Police Service is rather an abomination to many. The police who are supposed to play neutrality in their daily activities and professional career have, lately, taken sides contrary to expectations and their positive neutrality stance to support and sing praises of the government of the day for fear of being dismissed or transferred to ‘Siberia’ i.e. to be relocated to some remotest village without any amenities compel them to act unprofessionally. The general apathy and perception of the public is that most of them pay bribes before enlistment; the selection team also does not bother whether qualification and physique are anything to by at all. And since miscreants would want to explore such lucrative avenues such as this and have the field day, they would try to move the heavens to get enlisted into the service to put to practice their hidden agenda under the guise and cover of the uniform. The police undoubtedly know the secret hideouts of the various criminals in society but always play the ostrich. Combating crime wave in the country, protecting life and property, maintaining law and order and above all, instilling/injecting discipline in the society are but a few of the many social responsibilities they perform with excellence but decide to perform blindly; when you venture to report of robbery at a place the usual response from the many stations is: do you have a vehicle to take us there? When you go to complain at the police counter, they often ask whether you could supply them with a pen to write your complaint. Funny indeed! Whatever bad nuts there may be, as a human institution, however, the top echelon has always tried to ensure that the best global acceptable standards are maintained. Inarguably, however, nobody could dispute the fact that the general performance of service personnel has dropped drastically since December 1981. The author can say categorically with authority that the infusion of riff raffs and for that matter thugs and miscreants drawn from the PDCs, WDCs, People Militias etc. into the mainstream has woefully worsened the plight of the service and not until and of course special screening is done to achieve the best for them, they would continue to perform below average locally but excel little above average internationally. Despite the cream of academia littered and scattered in all the departments of the service as district and regional commanders, with a handful also as operations, finance and administration, training depot commanders etc., as far as most of them have their roots and training from the PNDC’s era with evil intentions and mindset, you might as well forget about them; nothing good will ever come out of Nazareth.
Soon after Ghana’s Independence, our colonial masters set up the police force for us with Mr. Erasmus Ransford Tei Madjitey as the first Commissioner of the then Ghana Police Force. It was not long when the baton changed hands to Mr. J.W.K. Harlley of the NLC administration with the Nunoos helping from the flanks. Later, the Force now Service, has been headed by either legal luminary or accountant and the command structure has by stretch of imagination, been encouraging but with the emergence of the PNDC and thereafter, the service has rather delighted to stuff the enviable and reputable institution with personalities of questionable characters, recalcitrant criminals, rapists, armed robbers and other indescribable behaviours that are unprintable. This is because the laid down and acceptable norms and recruitment process have never been followed but by-passed and thrown to the dogs in pursuit of personal aggrandizement. Often-times, for fear of governmental reprisals and retributions, the recruiting staff take persons from the back-door as protocol candidates and these are sometimes the very ‘empty’ vessels that make the most noise and always have been the villains of the peace. Unlike the eras of the Madjiteys and the Harlleys, subsequent heads like the B.A. Yakubus, the F.P. Kyeis, the S.S. Omanes and the Kwakyes did their best to ensure that their administrations had capable persons with unquestionable tags who performed their duties above average to uplift the image of the service to befit their accolade ‘Service with Integrity’. Unfortunately, since the PNDC era and thereafter, the service has been grappled and tainted with habitual recruitment of favorites and tribesmen from the powers that be and that has negatively and gravely impacted their professional competence. Quite apart from that too, lack of periodic training has also contributed immensely to their non performance. The mediocre style some of the weapon wielding personnel walk about in the streets with half tattered clothes is clear testimony and that alone shows that they lack the modern day training and handling of weapons. Some of them lack the psychological and tactical ability.
As stated above the Ghana Police Service has for many years been privileged to have legal brains to head it. In trying to polish this noble security institution by reinvigorating almost every available department of this profession, it will however be prudent that while in no time the very top brass have many times been lucky to have refresher courses to attend international conferences and seminars abroad and outside the country’s borders, at least the young and probably the under-privileged ones in the system should be given the chance to take either official police courses or vocational or professional courses to broaden their knowledge but are denied. The husband of a police woman who pleaded anonymity with this writer stated that since 2007, there had been a nationwide circular to the effect that no recruit should be allowed to write any promotional exams until after 12 years when the lucky ones, and by inference, the vulnerable policewomen who submit themselves to sexual pressures against their moral will and rights mostly get their automatic corporal and sergeant ranks after the sex escapades while the ‘Bob-no-rank males’ keep marking time until thy kingdom come. It is unfortunate that I should dwell on sexual harassment and abuse but since the police are part and parcel of us and the fact that the administration is not packed with angels from on high, I would not be far from defending them from the immoral norm and sexual practice that have gradually crept into the Ghanaian society to make policewomen very vulnerable to authority – either you decide to reluctantly offer sex for promotion in rank, sex for decent and suitable work station, sex for better or suitable accommodation or sex for car loan facility if any. The irony is that nobody is permitted to write any external or internal police exams by which time it is assumed one’s mental faculty is rotten and has to do with marking time and possibly retire with the rank of hopefully an Inspector if one is brilliant. Is it also a truism that apart from graduates and those with tertiary qualifications, N.C.Os have no access to study leave until after 16 years? The writer stands for correction. The Police should come out to deny or confirm whether those brilliant ones wishing to undergo ‘distance learning’ to gain the General Business Certificate Examinations usually get sanctioned and interdicted whenever they are caught by the ‘hawks in the system. If this is true, then it is a serious indictment. Sooner than later, the top hierarchy will leave the scene and do they expect the service to be headed with just the minimum qualifications of SSSC/SHSC? Quite recently, Mr. David Asante Appeatu was gifted with a dignified Interpol appointment. Would he have been so appointed to that important position with the lower qualification as is being propagated by the endorsement of the Ghana Police Administration inimical stance? May be this is the obvious reason why they fancy their ‘red’ currency notes everyday from drivers more than anything else.
Could it be true that until Peter became the IGP, he was the most fearful BNI boss Ghana has ever had? And could it be true that many people associate him with the humorous qualification that he was the I.G. with the smallest ever official cap? Peter Nanfuri’s name will never be obliterated from the national archives of the police as the most wicked and cruel police boss that Ghana once had. How -ever, he may have been the best in terms of discipline and academics but to me, that is not the case. This author recalls vividly an instance when the late Victor Owusu then an inmate in their custody at the BNI headquarters, was to sign company cheques he sent to him. Victor Owusu then a director and signatory to Gemini Airlines company cheques was concealed from being seen by his own employees for fear that, that individual might perform the functions of courier to transmit information from him to outside of the cells to suspected individual parties. Common signatures to cheques that obviously wouldn’t need more than five minutes to sign were to be deposited and left at the reception till the next day for collection. Did his administration at that time think the bearer of that cheque book would perform a courier’s function or act as a pimp to carry vital information to suspected accomplices and girl friends of the ‘Victor Owusu-Capt. Ampofo’s alleged coup plotters? Idiocy, isn’t it? That was the era when Peter Nanfuri was the ‘almighty’ name at Ghana’s BNI. So when finally Mr. Rawlings promoted him to become the IGP, the mere mention of his name actually sent shivers down the spines of many people. Despite this strange character, it was perhaps during his tenure that Jack Bebli was alleged to have master-minded the highway gold-bar robbery on the Winneba-Accra road.
Once upon a time there lived one Jack Bebli, who was a member of the Ghana Police Service. This huge and bulky policeman lived at the Flagstaff House police barracks. Due to obvious reasons he was retired as sergeant and presumably paid his end of service entitlements. But in order that he might accomplish the feat of the ‘father’s will’, he was later re-engaged to the service again when Mr. Rawlings second entry onto the political scene instructed that both police and military personnel who had been retired by the Limann Administration could come back if they wished. Little did many people dream that Jack Bebli of all people would return to put on his police uniform again as serving officer. On his return how -ever, taxi drivers who operated at the Lido taxi rank at Nkrumah Circle became his targeted enemies because when he retired, he forced his way to become a taxi driver around the same area for which he was refused and many times resulted in verbal and physical fights. Jack as was often called, was never a military man but could dress as a soldier to intimidate opponents because his kinsman brother ‘Chairman Mao Tse Tsung’ was the emperor of the day and who, then, born dog to challenge him. Jack was alleged to have been the brain behind the incarceration of many drivers who opposed him to the military custody. The Gondar Barracks at Burma Camp was the fearful place his opponents were mauled and sent to cool off on his orders. Jack, then singing the master’s (Rawlings) voice, became another terror and he ensured that he terrorized his driver opponents with general support of self imposed crazy W.O. Salifu Amankwa who was then the ‘beautification’ expert at the Nkrumah Circle. The man Salifu Amankwa had such powers at his command post that shaving off one’s hair (i.e. the hair of any stray pedestrian who entered into his territory) with broken bottles was the kindest humane gesture one could expect from him. It was no wonder that news spread like wildfire that Jack had been involved in the highway gold robbery. Even though as you read this piece today, Jack is dead and gone after being legally jailed at the Nsawam Medium Prisons for some time for his direct involvement in the gold robbery, those who suffered at his hands would not forgive his ghost for the legacy he bequeathed – ruelty for being the leader of the alleged hit-squad that killed the 200 or so suspected pickpockets, robbers and enemies of the so-called revolution who disappeared during the PNDC era at the Achimota Forest and the John Teye firing range as expatiated by Comrade Bro. Kwesi Pratt Jnr. in his Insight Newspaper years gone by.
Kofi Appiah To be continued.
Readers will recall that until the advent of both the AFRC and PNDC eras, the country’s administration was never like as is what pertains lately. Please read on from the last edition of the article captioned “Microscopic view of the Ghana Police.
The second coming of Mr. Rawlings to the Ghanaian political landscape that was unnecessary and unjustifiable by all international standards, rather brought indiscipline onto the country’s political terrain. His continued stay onto power from December 31, 1981 through to January 6th 2001, eleven of which was under military dictatorship and the rest as military-turn-coat-civilian politician, actually planted, nurtured and harvested the crop of indiscipline in the Ghanaian body politic. Mr. Rawlings’ 19 years rule, a total of 7,060 days including the stint with the A.F.R.C. as ‘Chairman Mao Tse Tsung’ could have benefitted her in many diverse ways but his initial nervous, intrepid ineptitude that his cohorts took advantage of, wasted an extraordinary opportunity she could have gained as a nation. After his assumption of power, he introduced some socialist alien reforms including the people’s militia, the PDCs, WDCs, people’s tribunal, Citizen’s Vetting Committees, etc. to prove that all of us were the same but just to throw dust into our eyes to amass wealth at the expense of the masses. Your guess could be as good as mine; people of all kinds, riff raffs, miscreants and misfits who could not make ends meet in all spheres of life quickly jumped onto the bandwagon to become filthily rich and contrary to the tenets of socialism - that no one should be rich at the expense of the other. Law and order broke down; rather, it was thrown to the dogs; there was no total and complete command structure in either the police or the military; the messenger in a private company rose against his chief executive, the police corporal rose against his chief superintendent, the lance corporal in the army had much say than his colonel; that was the era when all commercial banks were instructed to submit the list of all clients who had much more than Gh?5.00 or ?50,000.00 in their bank accounts – they were to show cause or reason as to how they came by that huge amount in their accounts; not only that; nobody was permitted by their ‘kangaroo’ laws or decrees to withdraw more than Gh?2.00 or ?20,000.00 weekly – silly isn’t it? Today, how much more of the Gh?5.00 in multiples of that figure does Prof. (then Mr.) Kwamena Ahwoi not have in his bank accounts? Do the proponents of such brutish decrees not have more than one water closets (w.cs) in their homes whilst the people of Nima still struggle to queue to ease themselves? The court bailiff then wielded more powers than the judge etc. That was Rawlings Ghana and history tuition for present day history students. Funnily, many of his associate friends including an old Greek friend of his, the late Len Eliopolous, who know him relate that he is not after all a brave person; but does the job of a hunch-backed person who has been tasked with taking care of women, children and the aged at home when the real bold and active men have left town for their farms or workplaces. What normally fascinates him was to stir the muddy waters all the time.
The mystery surrounding the sudden death of former Vice President, Mr. Kow Nkensen Arkaah, when the vehicle on which he was returning home had a head-on collision with a hit-and-run-assassin’s vehicle when he was only a few metres away from the gates of his residence at East Cantonments in Accra continues to be an unresolved riddle. Police General Constable Owusu Sekyere and others were murdered and buried under water by the local people of Ablekuma in Accra but the police swiftly swung into action to investigate to discover the burial ground and eventually the culprits brought to book. If the action pricks their membership, then their self-interest reigns supreme but deny others who have no links with the profession. Messrs. Appenteng, Rokkko Frimpong, Deputy M.D., GCB, the former 1st vice chairman of NPP for the Dome Kwabenya constituency; the 32 or so women who were serially murdered prior to the 2000 elections etc. may have had their dockets vanished through thin air or burnt to ashes. Apart from Quansah who was used as a scapegoat, all the others are regarded as ‘foolish cases’. Again, the mysterious circumstances involving the death of a poor driver and his mate whose tro-tro vehicle crossed with the ex-president Rawlings’s on the Tema Motorway still hangs in the balance and rings a bell and not until the police sits down to open this docket, their ghosts will continue to haunt the administration in perpetuity. Why, why? Were they not human beings and also Ghanaians who deserve justice, even posthumously? And are the culprits (Ashaiman police who may have beaten them to death or poisoned them to lose their lives miraculously) above any of the laws of the land? Hmm, judgment day awaits them. Madam DCOP Rose Atenga Bio and the Agbobloshie daylight hatchet of political opponents, does this ring a bell? Anita de Souza’s madness at Atiwa in the full glare of the Ghana Police; the Akwatia by-election for 6 polling stations where the Ghana Police kindly asked Hon. Dan Botwe to flee in his own interest to avoid being hacked down by the Jihad revolutionaries; the continued incarcera -tion of NPP activists in police custody has turned out to be a nightmare. Will the Kwesi Oforis and the Cephas Arthurs be able to make the international grades in professional policing and ethics when they intentionally deceive the general public with perpetual lies and orchestrated gimmicks; their avowed support of the barbaric bestial behavior of Service personnel and inaction of the Police Administration clearly amplifies the mistrust in them. Even though previous predecessors such as the Peter Nanfuris, the Osei Pokus, the
Nana Owusu Nsiahs and the Patrick Acheampongs have come and gone, trust me, their eras will pass the litmus test much better than the Paul Tawiah Quaye’s tenure that will forever remain as the most brutish police administration Ghana has ever had in the last 50 years because of the glaring disregard for human dignity and the apparent complicity.
This writer cannot say that he is a Togolese but always feels ashamed for being a Ghanaian. How come that some confiscated powdery substance suspected to be cocaine after laboratory tests and checks, confirm its authenticity and later turn out to be either ‘kokonte’ or caustic soda? It is only the Ghana Police who will boldly superintend such scandalous crime and come out to tell the whole world this funny Ananse tale. Did anybody hear that shameful and pretentious police -man trying to absolve the police from the scandalous act on air and shifting blame and goalposts to the corridors and doorsteps of the Judiciary? Shameful behavior, isn’t it? Has the author’s theorem now been proved right in his earlier submission that the whole system is fraught with some miscreants and misfits that is why dangerous drugs such as this should become the talk of town and the mystery of the millennium. The whole Administration should bow their heads in big shame for this international scandal. According to a world renowned international criminal expert and researcher, Dr. Stanton Samenow, “Criminals cause crime not because of bad neighborhoods and/or inadequate parents”. But in Ghana in particular, the crime wave is rather being perpetrated by the youth and a couple of dozens of them being the police caught red-handed culprits and others too hiring out weapons and firearms to criminals. By the disclosures of these bizarre circumstances, I am tempted to suggest that such drugs should in future be sent to the security vaults of the Bank of Ghana for keeps and relieve them of this additional responsibility. The place should be secured and reinforced with three or more security padlocks and distributed amongst the Police, the NACOB, the Judiciary and the Ghana Standards Authority, and the substance in custody only presented as exhibit in the law courts to shame the police because if they only continue to be custodians, by jove, we haven’t seen anything yet. Since they have fallen short of their cardinal principle as custodian of such objects, I would like to suggest that those responsible for the custody of such drugs in the last 10 years be dismissed and terminated in shame without any service entitlement and their assets and liabilities confiscated as well as their names blacklisted altogether to serve as deterrent.
Several election disputes the world over have brought woes and untold hardships to many countries especially in Africa. Ghana’s political landscape nearly turned to a bloodbath but for God’s intervention and political maturity. The elections could be brought forward about a month i.e. in November to contain the time frame for the Transition Committee to have sufficient time to cater for the change over and handing over notes. But the partisan stance exhibited by the police in the three by-elections at Cherepone, Akwatia and Atiwa where human blood flowed as a result of lawlessness by the incumbent NDC are testamentary evidence and circumstantial proof that the Ghana Police cannot behave as neutral party in this crucial election dubbed by the NPP as ‘all-die-be –die’ and do-and-die by their NDC archrivals. Despite the abysmal performance of government that requires automatic change, they would make sure they moved all the heavens to ensure that victory does not elude them. So in a situation like this, if the political temperature rises as is bound to be; what neutrality role do you expect the Ghana Police who are the employees of the government of the day to play on the D-day? The answer is as crystal clear as the ice. They will sing their master’s choruses no matter what. But is it necessary for reinforcement from international observers to police the polls? Certainly no! As the seconds tick by and the minutes grow into hours, days, weeks and months, certainly, the election date will come and the earlier the police functioned as a neutral professional corporate entity, the better. The world is watching with telescopic binoculars whilst God is also watching with divine eye. Since we pride ourselves as probably the only God-fearing nation in the world and peace loving, all the world political lenses will be focused on Ghana and the Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan is someone who has my utmost sympathy.

Not until the likes of DCOP Rose Atenga Bio and Cephas Arthur especially who is gradually carving a niche for himself as equally substantive replacement for Kwesi Ofori before he graduates from the Academy of “Lies Public Deception” to deny the entire Police Administration of international recognition for UN appointments and respect for professionalism in policing, the public have no confidence in the Ghana Police. And if this persists, the author will be compelled to seek and/solicit the permission from the high office of Her Majesty the Queen of England, Her Excellency Elizabeth Regina II to consider and arrange for the inclusion of the names of police personalities such as DCOP Rose Atenga Bio, DSP Kwesi Ofori and a few others whose names do not readily click and who persistently show bias and positive defiance of police inaction and blatant disregard for loss of human lives (the brutish slaughter of political opponents at Agbobloshie in Accra, the by-elections at Cherepone where some death was recorded; Akwatia where the Police unprofessionally asked Hon. Dan Botwe to leave the township to save his life and lastly at Atiwa where Anita de Souza boisterously drove her car through jubilant crowd and maimed opponents in the full glare of weapon-wielding police, are but a few that could pass for honorary knighthood while the NCOs whose blood systems are immunized with bribery and corruption would be accorded with local awards of the ‘Order of the Volta’ (Civil Division) if they also do not halt their shameful daily acts of taking bribes that have been concealed in drivers’ licences – and that would go down in history as the worst ever Police Administration we have witnessed in recent times.
The vehemence with which the NDC Scribe tried to propagate to the world that Ghana’s election would come off without verification with their propaganda machinery set in motion to run round the nukes and crannies of the country clearly suggest that imminent defeat stares at them. How come that they went round the villages to spread rumours that anyone who mustered courage to touch the verification gadget during the election would certainly be infested with either cancer or HIV AIDS. For fear of being infested with these dreadful diseases therefore, the unlikelihood that the villagers would reject the new system to the detriment of NPP was not farfetched. Meanwhile we know that the NDC have zoned the country into territories and seriously peddling such falsehood to achieve their diabolical plan. Latest events unfolding from the EC precincts attest to that fact and which buttresses the Akan saying below, that left to them, we should behave like the tortoise as explained below with the proverb. The Akan local parlance, “Se wope akyekyedee asisi no a na woka kyere no se kohohoro wo nsa bra na yen nnidi” literally translated as asking the tortoise to go and wash its hands before coming back to join in a feast. The tortoise, as we all know, walks on all fours; and it would be a surprise to see it with clean and washed hands before partaking in a meal with his host at a luncheon party. The NPP as a human institution has seen and found out the tricksters. If the EC is broke, they should send an SOS message to the international community for financial assistance to avoid the unpleasant sight of unrest and civil disobedience before, during and after the elections.
To bring the curtain down on the abysmal performance of our police in general, I would end with a quote by Murdo Fraser, one time Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives in Parliament, ……… “That is what we should be focusing on now, but not wasting our time and money on constitutional navel-gazing”. Instead of putting back good economic structures in place to forestall our bold forward march, the government led by Egya Atta, treasures in very trivial things by being the first ever president round the globe as world setter of committees of enquiries to distract our attention on good governance.

By Kofi Appiah