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Opinions of Saturday, 10 October 2009

Columnist: Amegashie, Felix Mawulolo

Mr. IGP, That Was Fast, But…

The incident involving the cold blooded murder of the young Kwesi Baah by a Police Patrol team around Kokomlemle drew sharp denigration from the public as to this bellicose style of some trigger-happy Police Constables armed to the teeth and roaming the streets. Young Baah , according to an eye witness, was stopped by a Patrol team a little after 9pm for driving an unregistered vehicle and an amount of One hundred and Fifty Ghana Cedis (GHC150) was extorted from him after which he took off. He was accosted minutes later by another Patrol team who demanded that he stopped again to which he refused. He took to his heels and his vehicle was shot at. He took a bullet in the process and was deliberately, denied medical assistance by the Police and his poor mother had to look on helplessly as his son took the last breath. These goons in uniform Policemen fired warning shots daring friends and family to offer dying Baah timely help. My heart reaches out to the family especially the mother in whose arms he passed away, for this great and unexpected loss.

In quick response to the incident, the Deputy Ministers of Information and the Police Kingpins visited the family of the deceased to console them and gave them their word that they will do all possible to bring justice to the family. Following from this promise, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Paul Quaye directed full scale investigation into the incident with the promise that he will personally take interest in the matter and bring the perpetrators to book. True to this promise, four Policemen have so far been arrested in connection with the incident pending further investigations.

I am most impressed by the swift manner in which the suspects have been picked up following the interest expressed in the matter by the Police high command. It is indeed unplumbed to believe that investigations could be commissioned this swift and suspects arrested so soon pending further investigations. Beyond this single incident, I am tempted to conjecture the possible causes of such shot outs and unnecessary deaths of productive citizens of the land.

In an earlier article captioned, “Mr. IGP, Your Move” published on the internet and in other newspapers, I raised red flags over the directive by the Public Relations Directorate of the Ghana Police over the fiat that “unregistered motorbikes be banned on the streets after 8 pm” and those using unregistered vehicles “should be thoroughly questioned” by the Police Patrol team whenever and wherever these vehicles are found. My argument was that the fiat was ambiguous and could be manhandled, misinterpreted and misused by miscreants in the service to fete their insatiable desire for bribes. DSP Kwesi Fori came out later to clear the air on the fiat but that did not do much about the misinformation that had already gone out from his own outfit. I am convinced that the mix up in the interpretation of this fiat might have contributed directly to this incident.

Again the eye witness confirmed that a Police patrol team had earlier accosted them and demanded a bribe which they had paid on the spot to enable them go their way. Just as they had left that scene, they were accosted again by another patrol team ostensibly for another session of unnecessary questioning, threats of arrest, seizure of vehicle and possible prosecution which culminated in the demand of another bribe forced the young man to ignore the police and drive on. The Police reportedly smelled of alcohol.

In as much as the young man misjudging his instincts on the matter, the police are equally wrong in firing live bullets indiscriminately at the moving vehicle and hitting Baah in the process. The young lady in his company could have taken a bullet as well. In a desperate attempt to cover their own crime and possible confession from the young man, the police wickedly and deliberately prevented family and friends from rushing the young man to the hospital. They clandestinely read between the lines that the survival of Baah could spell doom for them as they will be implicated in the matter and I am tempted to believe that the bullets fired were meant for both occupants of the vehicle for this same reason. These bribery incidents is the bane of what drivers, pedestrians, hawkers, hookers and motorists go through each day and night at the hands of undisciplined men and some miscreants in uniform who are more than ignorant about the ethics of their chosen profession.

This obsession on the side of the police with any young man; slightly or heavily built riding in the latest unregistered saloon car and draped in fashionable sun glasses, blinks and enjoying the in a company of a sexy looking 17 year old SHS graduate they easily mistake for either a drug dealer or an armed robber should be reconsidered to avoid these frequent confrontations with the citizenry and the Police should learn to respect the principles of the rules of engagement.

It is against this background that I commend the Deputy Ministers of Information Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Mr. James Agyenim Boateng to visit the family of late Baah to extend their condolence to the family and promised doing all to ensure that those involved in this barbaric act are brought to book.

The inspector General of Police on his part vowed to clamp down on the men involved and I am happy to see that four of the men allegedly involved have been arrested pending the completion of the investigations and possible prosecution. With the same zealous commitment, I expect other unresolved cases handed down the administration of the new government like the Taifa killing incident, the Dansoman shooting incident, the biker who was gunned down somewhere in the Central Region by Military men, the soldier who was murdered in a bush in Burma camp, the killers of Issa Mobila , the Killers of the Overlord of Dagbon, Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II among many other ritual murders, should be investigated with the perpetrators punished.

As part of measures to wipe the Police Service and the military clean of these scoundrels who deliberately engage in nefarious activities( from loan retrievers to land guards ) that only go to tarnish the reputation of the police and the military, the public should be encouraged to report those involved for prompt action. I am yet to see the implementation of the IGP’s commitment to tag all Police men with ID numbers. This move will support efforts from the public to check the men in uniform who fall out of line in the line of duty.

The late Kwesi Baah is another productive life wasted by some goons in uniform and you and I need not stand aloof while the Police and government struggle to correct the ills within the law enforcement agencies in their quest to provide better security to the good people of Ghana.

The time for action is now!

God Bless Our Homeland Ghana!

Felix Mawulolo Amegashie

lix_mawulolo@yahoo.com