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Opinions of Thursday, 2 November 2017

Columnist: Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III

Political persecution or just an ordinary service enquiry involving a police officer?

I have been referred to an adjudicating officer for a service enquiry for writing an open letter to the president, H.E Nana Akufo-Addo on 8th June 2017 and I need to interrogate it properly to know whether there is no political underpinnings, machinations and manipulations.

Yes! This is Ghana where everything is politically possible because this is not the first time I have written an open letter to a president. That time nobody even gave me a word of caution so what has changed?

I have also been charged for not using the approved administrative channel to address my grievances as a police officer, but the question is, was I addressing grievances or expressing views and opinions on an issue that is of a paramount interest to the ordinary Ghanaian if not the police service?

Maybe I should have sent my open letter to the police headquarters for them to distribute them individually to over 30 million Ghanaians themselves, since open letters are meant for public consumption though it may be addressed to one person.

The police officer is still locked in a cage when it comes to expression of views, opinions, thoughts and conscience as guarantees by the constitution as his/her fundamental human rights and this is not helping the growth and development of our police service. In other jurisdictions, the police are forming unions and even endorsing presidential candidates and here we are chasing a police officer for writing an open letter to the president in a free democratic space. Ah well!

Per claims of the charges, the open letter was likely to cause a political controversy. The open letter which seems to have brought all the good news to the police service as well as insurance packages of GH¢ 50, 000. 00 and GH¢ 25, 000.00 per each police officer is rather causing political controversies?

What a woooow! What about those police officers who have openly declared their political stands to an extent that some went and contested for political party primaries and lost? What are about those who openly endorsed the candidature of H.E John Dramani Mahama prior to the 2016 elections at the Flagstaff house?

Is it because I don't have any political backing or what? Maybe I should look for one to join so that my crimes will be grossed over just like others. I will definitely find one since those who openly make a political choice are immune from some of these needless service enquiries. I am beginning to believe it is a political chase and not an ordinary service enquiry meant to instil discipline. People have done worst and, yet they are walking free.

It makes me ask, what about those I wrote to H.E. John Dramani Mahama, the Speaker of Parliament and the Chief Justice at the time? Were there no disciplinary authorities in the police service then? Was it that under John Dramani Mahama's administration led by Mr. Mohammed Alhassan and Mr. John Kudalor as IGPs were tolerant to freedom of speech and expression in the police service? What is so unique about the one I wrote to H.E Nana Akufo-Addo that has attracted a service enquiry from the others?

Is it political persecution or just an ordinary case of selective application of disciplinary measures borne out of vindictiveness and victimisation as it has always been in the police service? More questions than answers there.

This service enquiry whether politically motivated or not is only going to add up to the stock of experience I have already acquired as a young police officer and fortify me in my future endeavours in the police service and other public life. It will give me the opportunity to take up new challenges both in the police service and outside the police service and a sense of new focus, direction and new beginnings. Service enquiry itself is not a problem but when it comes to a plot and grand schemes to destroy police officers on purpose, then it leaves a lot to be desired and its disciplinary purpose is completely defeated. It becomes a tool for threats and intimidations.

Whatever may be the outcome of my service enquiry will be a source of great strength to me. Be it dismissal, reduction in rank, severe reprimand or whatever it is, is only a test of faith and those of us who have the "mustard seed" faith will always prevail and triumph. If I should be exonerated from all the frivolous and capricious charges levelled against me too, it's still going to add some kind of vitality to my strength and my struggles in the police service against vindictiveness and victimisation. Whichever way that it goes, Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III is mentally fit and psychologically prepared for it. No worries at all.

Immediately a police officer hears of service enquiries, he or she gets scared because it is lifeline to his/her deadline as far as policing is concerned. You are a step closer to dismissal, an inch to reduction in rank and if nothing at all, delay in promotions. It brings frustration to a lot more, the mentally and psychologically weak ones take to severe alcoholism to cut short their frustrations. Sadly, they die before their time but those that survive the "brushes" of service enquiry live to tell a story that not every police officer can tell. It's a complete story.

It is worst when you are interdicted and left to rot. They will interdict you and forget you whilst they work to earn their full salaries even though the current regulations indicate that after three months of interdiction without trial, the IGP should lift the interdiction and allow you to do your work. Oh! Oh !! Oh !!! How I wish I was interdicted before this so-called premeditated, predetermined and preconceived service enquiries? We would have seen that the courts are powerful than the police service and seen how we can compel the police service to do the right things through judicial remedies. The police service is not an island on its own but rather a creature of the constitution so the constitution supersedes it. It's four months since I wrote that open letter which resulted in my transfer from the Police Headquarters to Abokobi just within one and half weeks on arrival. What again in the name of service enquiry if it is not a calculated agenda probably borne from political persecution?

Service enquiries are like "kakamotobi" or a scarecrow that no police officer wants to go closer to. It's a problem when your service enquiry is orchestrated by the CENTRAL DISCIPLINARY BOARD like in my case. Your chances of proving your innocence is very slim because only God knows the number of times crunch meetings have been held on your head and finally a decision is made to put you on trial. In such cases, there is an intense pressure on the adjudicating officers or whoever that will try you because it already looks predetermined and preconceived trial that you are not likely to escape what they have already planned about you.

Another problem with the CENTRAL DISCIPLINARY BOARD orchestrating your trial is that they become like JUDGES IN THEIR OWN CASES. Even if the adjudicating officer should exonerate you, they have the power, authority, capacity and capability to OUT-TURN the decision of the adjudicating officer and slap you with a punishment they deem fit in their own senses and wisdom. How fair is this one? We have therefore seen in many cases where adjudicating officers exonerate defendants but the CENTRAL DISCIPLINARY BOARD either reduces you in rank, give you severe reprimand or in extreme cases have you dismissed. It is the reasons why many police officers fear service enquiries and thereby becoming the biggest tool to intimidate and victimise many police officer.

I am not being held because I have gone to rob, steal or sell a cocaine with my police uniform or committed any heinous crime that has brought shame and reproach to the police service. In fact, what I did has rather brought enormous benefits to every police officer, so it is a matter of conscience and I leave it to those who have levelled the capricious charges against me. I am being held because I have stood against oppression, suppression, acts of vindictiveness and victimisation but to be an exceptional police officer, you need a special courage and a strong mindset that cannot be conquered with threats and intimidation like this service enquiry. You need a scar borne out of attacks and this service enquiry is one of such scars.

Initially, I made up my mind not to even appear before the adjudicating officer but I have also come to realise that it is a test of faith and baptism of fire that I must go through to become a refined and complete police officer. The question still remains whether it is just an ordinary service enquiry involving a police officer or political persecution?

If it is the usual police trial and their selective application of disciplinary measures borne out of vindictiveness and victimisation, then it is long overdue. I have been expecting it.

It intrigues.