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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Columnist: Asare, Noah Dugubrame

Police Men Under Arrest!!

Yesterday, a story of the fallout between Deputy Minister Of Interior and the seven policemen landed like a bomb in my ears. As reported by Peacefmonline, the seven men were whisked from their barracks to the police headquarters for allegedly misconducting themselves by way of insulting the minister, a claim the policemen involved have totally denied.

Whatanenever I hear anything bad concerning the police I try all my best to ascertain the truth in it before I conclude because they have always been without a voice. If you lie against anybody in the public he has many ways to voice out his grievances like going on strike, organising a press conference, reporting you to some authorities, talking to a journalist or use any other way appealing to the aggrieved person to clear his name. The police are by their code of conduct not allowed to do any of the above. They have very little means to clear their names when under attack publicly.

So after hearing the news, I placed some calls to find out the veracity of the story. I was told that one, it is true that those policemen were arrested by a new unit formed by this administration called Intelligence and Professional Standards (PIPS) comprising of police and Millitary.

My father was a policeman but because of the dirty nature of our media these days he hardly listen to radio or go to the Internet to read any news. But I disclosed the story to him and the ex Chief Inspector of Police disclosed some shocking revelations to me. One, he said even the most rude policeman will never open his mouth against any driver unless there is a provocation by the driver in question. Two, any MTTU man on the highway always expects that the persons in private cars could be anybody and therefore take serious cautions when talking to them. Again he told me that when a policeman stops a private car the first thing they learn to do is to address him as sir or madam to show respect before asking for any other thing. He also said the police can stop any car at any time even when off duty upon whatever reason deemed fit by the policeman in his discretion. He finally told me that he doubts if the policemen could just stop the minister of state and start insulting him.

The Ex chief inspector told me again that even if the policemen insulted the Minister as he is alleging it was out of order to use a police/millitary team to arrest them. And that whoever he called at the Headquarters should have done the right thing by directing the minister to the police station under whose jurisdiction the incident happened. He said that misconduct in the police service is handled by a service enquiry which can be handled even by a station officer, who normally is a chief inspector or above. Again he said misconduct has two forms: Misconduct and gross misconduct but quickly stated that none of the two is too high for a station to handle. Central Region being a police region on itself could have internally handled that matter if there was any.

He further pointed to me, that the police unit responsible for disciplining police for any reprimand is the Special Police Command (SPO) and so he wondered how a police/millitary team could be assigned the duty of arresting a policeman. He said under normal circumstance except the policeman is caught in a serious criminal offence, the millitary has no authority to arrest a policeman for misconduct from his barracks neither can the police enter the millitary barracks to effect an arrest of a sodier for misconduct.

In the nut shell, the whole incident is very unfortunate and a slap in the face of the whole police service for allowing themselves to be thrown around by a single phone call. He also said it was a waste of resources to assign a team from Accra to effect an arrest in the central region just because of misconduct. The policemen could have been questioned right there at their station and the report forwarded through the police district to the regional office and then to the national. It was also a break of the organisational chart to fly from the top and swoop at the bottom for any issue regarding the conduct of a policeman which if even criminal is mere misdemeanour. He also stressed that it is regrettable how our forces are tossed around by politicians.

After listening to him I was sad for the policemen. For carrying out your lawful duty you could land in cells as a policeman. Whatever any person having authority tells anybody at the top about you could be so easily believed. Whatever you say however could land you in more deeper trouble. If this is the level Ghana has reached then we are in for trouble. If just stopping the car of Hon Kobby Acheampong can cause seven abled men to land in cell how do we expect our policemen to work with confidence?

It will also be regrettable if those policemen are handled this way and Hon Kobby Acheampong will not be processed for the traffic offence we are told he committed. Ghana I think should be taken steps forward in the rule of law. This incident is an indictment on the IGP who apparently gave that instruction as we are told he was the one called by the Minister. We have to begin to know that nobody is above the law. And no matter your status in the society, you are subject to the law and to the police. Their duty should be carried out without fear nor favour and our leaders have to instill that confidence in the police not to rather put fear and panic in them.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

Noah Dugubrame Asare. Frankfurt, Germany.