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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Columnist: Asante Fordjour

The Changing Frontiers of State Policing

Ownership, stated the 18th-century jurist Montesquieu (Esprit des Lois 1748) dies with the man. Sir William Blackstone once maintained that since the dead cannot own property it follows that their solemn wishes should not be allowed to interfere with the living (Commentaries on the Law of England, Bk. II Ch. 1, p. 10). But does it really?

Family Rawlings, for example, had strongly believed that corruption and lies should not be allowed to go unpunished because they wielded power. But did they actually succeed? Our revolutionaries never demonstrated to us how to sleep in hammock

Otherwise, Captain Karl-Heinz Huppenbauer (rtd) (a Ghanaian from Vanne, Volta Region) Commission’s Report- dubbed “Ghana Police Force Stinks” and IGP Kyei’s alleged fair comment- “Ghana is a lawless country” that perhaps, led to his resignation as Police Force Chief some decades ago, could have had a good deal of our then prevailing idea among our societies that to secure a just and purified nation meant slaughtering of few ‘black goats’ and some white eggs, broken for omelettes.

Indeed- evil has a reputation for resilience. Robert Wright, author of NonZero: The Logic of Human Destiny ((New York: Pantheon Books, 2000)) argues that banishing evil from Middle Earth alone took three very long Lord of the Rings movies. Equally deserving of the reputation, he says, is the concept of evil- in particular, a conception of it that was on display in those very movies- the idea that behind all the world’s bad deeds lie a single, dark, cosmic force. Thus, evil in the Manichaen sense isn’t just absolute badness- it’s a grand unified explanation of such badness, the linkage of diverse badness to a single source (War On Evil, U.S. FP Mag., Sept/Oct. 2004, p.34)

In the Lord of the Rings, the various plainly horrible enemy troops- orcs, ring-wraiths and others, according to Wright, were evil in Manichaen sense by virtue of their unified command- all were under the sway of the dreaded Sauron. The issue then is, if all our enemies are Satan’s puppets is there a point of drawing a fine distinction among them? Readers may agree with Wright that somewhere in human nature is a bad seed (hatred?) that underlies many of the terrible things that we do. If we are Christians, we might think of this seed as the original sin. If not, we might see it in a secular terms- for example, as a core selfishness that can skew our moral perspective, inclining us to tolerate, even salute, the suffering that threatens our shared comfort?

The pathological argument resulting from Hon. Amoateng’s arrest in the United States and the former P(NDC) diplomat Frank Benneh’s repatriation from Switzerland, has given an impression that the main opposition party- the NDC and the ruling NPP’s moan on drug peril is fraught with rivalry? Certainly most of us regard drug expatriates and their hosts as a curse to our nation yet, are we not at cross-roads in discovering that our leadership is powerless in pursuing them beyond their graves?

If yes, was Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD, right in his recent political shrewdness, international stagecraft and diplomacy, when on behalf of the state and perhaps his embattling New Patriotic Party, haunted by knee-jerking on numerous indictments ((unorthodox arms imports and drug-trafficking)), mounted the United Nations’ throne with a plea for help to combat crime-networks that bully our Republic and the sub-region at large?

We had thought that even if our noble UN Secretary-General- Uncle Kofi Anan and Nana had been whispering to the vacant mummy seats at the Security Council’s courtyard, they did it with the knowing that ‘walls have ears?’ Then is of course the generally acknowledged concern that drug and arms trafficking is a global challenge?

Undoubtedly, it is argued that there has been a long tradition of the police, bashing politicians, accusing them of getting interested in their problems only when a higher-visibility crime generates a public reaction. Yes, Raymond Kendall, the former secretary general of Interpol, for example, submits that it is pointless trying to fight so much and so many different kinds of crimes with meager national security budget. Because modern criminal organizations and their networks, are unquestionably, capable of matching governments technology to the toe in international trafficking in individuals, including children and infants? (US FP, January/February 2001, p.31-34)

As these criminal groups operate from several countries and are diversified enough to make it extremely difficult to investigate using traditional methods, Kendall advises that unless it is approached in a truly multilateral way, with countries really collaborating efficiently, they will always have the upper hand He explains that since politicians, for example, make decisions on the basis of good information, effective communication between police, government not forgetting society, is always crucial.

“In the same way that businesses have relocated to profit from a shrinking world, crime networks have also stepped thousands of miles to penetrate new markets, especially, in countries with fragile democracies which are often prone to bribery and corruption to find new sources of revenue and influence, or get an edge on the completion at home. The sad news is that most governments ((as in our case?)) have been less adroit, especially at building effective multilateral mechanisms to meet this more supplicated threat to their citizens, politicians and the local cop”, he says, (Ibid)

The role of strategic intelligence, if we are to believe the former Interpol Boss, is not to identify specific operational targets, but rather to focus attention on new threats, identifying changing situations and providing the basis for forecasting future trends. “We look at such things as the movement of people or goods to find if there is any way we can predict where the next organized activity is going, where we should be looking next.” Now, can Ghana track and fight organized crimes in and outside its realm with ethnic suspicions and politics transcending the ethos of national interests?

To win this war, majority of European countries, Kendall hints, are participating in the Millennium Project, providing intelligence information on the newest and most dynamic of the major international organized criminal groups- gangs from, for example, the crumbled Soviet Union- the very global drive that we fail to recognize?

In July 1999, British police, for instance, found out that a suspect container was due to arrive in Italy. When the container arrived, Italian police searched it and discovered 1,400 kilograms of cocaine. The police decided to leave 500* kilograms of cocaine in the container and follow it to its final destination. It went from Greece, to Macedonia, back to Italy, and then to Vienna, where the cocaine, according to Raymond Kendall, was seized and its recipients, arrested. “People read about it in the newspapers and are concerned. But what the world does not quite understand, is how entrenched and dangerous these criminals are,” the former Interpol strongman says so (Ibid, pp31-33).

With this authority, “Women of Jerusalem”, how could we forcefully weep for Ghana over this speculated missing ‘tons’ of cocaine? Our simple minds suggest to our doubtful conscience that if anything at all the said “mysterious cocaine”, hinted by foreign intelligence, plausibly, might have been hoax and shouldn’t have warranted even scouts patrols, let alone exposing our ideological nakedness and yes, ethnic bias?

Many theologians or imams might reject this. Yet, assuming their speculations attract following, it seems still consistent with contemporary international policing, politics and perhaps, ethnic relations that assault on global crimes such as ours demands true, joint global networking, tactics and tools, rather than fallacious whims. Thus, there could be no single touch-stone in finding solutions to our numerous problems if critical academic/professional enquiry is reduced to electioneering impulsiveness, rumors and counter-accusations as evidenced by this missing cocaine story? It is said that he who asserts a wrong has been committed must prove it. Here, the burden of proving an allegation, true, rests upon the person who claims to have been wronged.

We are neither suggesting no drug related problems nor refuting the claims of that publicly ‘petrol-cuted’ arm-robber- Anini, that there had been no serious crime in Nigeria that escaped the minds of top cops. We reason that ours is not as desperate as that of Colombia or other countries where terrorism and drug-trafficking cases have routinely been sent to special tribunals that allow some judges, prosecutors and witnesses to remain anonymous. We concede that the UNCHR has criticized this, yet, the Colombian government, as Larry Rohter reports, maintains that the faceless courts are the only way to deal with the twin plagues of terrorism and drug trafficking that have affected the country of 40 million people for decades? (see, Secretive Colombian Courts Survives Protest Over Rights, New York Times, June 20, 1999, p. A21).

The UN, for example, estimates that criminal syndicates worldwide are making U.S. $1.5 trillion a year. Not forgetting over 60,000 works of art, which according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) files, gets missing every year and some U.S. $600 billion, laundered. It is also revealed that about 1,000 Russian organized-crime groups operate internationally, plus 8,000 to 10,000 in an illegal operation in the former USSR alone. The group, per Kendall, ranges in sizes from 50 to 1,000 members- best understood as loose networks; which with a top-down control and coordination, operate together in specific cases and cooperate against common threats (Ibid, FP).

These criminal activities include cigarette and other contraband smuggling, drug, illegal immigration, extortion, prostitution, vehicle theft and arms dealing. We are sadden how this might mean to a country whose foreign intelligence, if there had been one, had been puzzled in detecting that rip-off that led us to a hair saloon in the UK.

But when Raymond Kendall, who for 15 years, has been secretary-general of Interpol granted that several hours exclusive interview on the state of global crime, to the American FP Magazine Editor, Moisés Naím, in November 2000, in New York City, he prophesied that our world which the Republic of Ghana is indeed part of it, needs to change the way it fights back crimes. The issues raised were whether our global cottage ought to legalize drug use, privatize police intelligence or globalize the courts?

He said, “I don’t think there has been what we might call new, really new types of crimes. There have been changes in intensity, changes in methodology, changes in the way criminals use technology- (undeniably) a more businesslike approach to what they do. Local organized crime still exists. But at the same time, criminal groups on the European ((and in African?)) continent, and extending around the world, instead of specializing in particular types of criminal activity- whether it’s drug trafficking weapons or stolen art objects…., they have diversified, created networks through which, at any given time, they can adapt themselves to evade capture..?” (Ibid)

Now, was it still absurd for Ghana stretching its arms to the U.N? In the absence of sheer political expediency and personal grudges, the issue of whether we ought to have conferred with the world body or not, is perhaps, comparatively straight-forward because militarily, we are not mightier than the US, the UK or the Russia Federation.

It has been argued that the P(NDC) era witnessed few drug trafficking but consider this. In the mid-1980s, a young public servant- Stephen Ofori-Addo, from Gyekiti, Akwamu, in the Eastern Region, following, presumably, a tip-off picked up unchallenged, two huge cartons stuffed with leaves suspected to be Indian-hemp which had been left unattended on the tarmac, somewhere around the OAU Lounge, and likely to exported abroad. Addo, who was affectionately known in his schooldays at Nifa Secondary and Accra Polytechnic, as Kalico, radioed his immediate superior, whom for the purpose of this article, he shall be coded- sun-ray-minor. Telephones rang and the boxes which were kept at a base near Ghana International School, East Cantonments, in Accra, were picked and possibly relocated to our Narcotic Division?

In a similar development on this flashback, this determined Kalico intercepted some five Peugeot Caravans, puffed with goods that have disregarded their customs and excise obligations. As usual, these tax evaders were referred to Customs Excise and Preventive Service. Addo is yet to be told of the results of his “one-man operation”. But when asked, how he was able to do these, he sounded something similar to what the then Captain Courage Quashiga was reported to have told journalists, after the Broadcasting House recapture on June 19th (1982): “I may use these tactics someday.”

We may read with dismay that Stephen Ofori-Addo’s final award was some two-years’ summarily imprisonment and dismissal from the service. To scratch the top of the ice-berg, Addo and others were later alleged to have gone to Osei Kwadwo Krom- a border town in our western frontiers to effect an arrest of an alleged petrol smuggler who trades in big names in Accra and for that matter, had escaped the regional intelligence’s microscope, including that of Kalico and his group? The ‘persistent informant’ alleged palms-scratching from this suspected smuggler. So he came back again to Accra, reported the case to Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings through a 31st December Women’s’ activist. Insiders say the informant was escorted to the Castle, personal security albums flipped, Addo & Co identified and judgment passed.

Some legal minds may be puzzling with audi alteram partem principle, vis-à-vis the alleged petrol trafficker, we can only report that family Rawlings believes in honesty. Mrs. Rawlings is said to have sacked her personal operative- Kwofie, a relative of the then Lt. Cmdr. Baffour Asase-Gyimah, for denying the known of a particular ceramic saucer in one of their trips that she later found in Kwofie’s apartment? But the family might have no hands in Awuku Ansah’s ordeal- the special force soldier who clashed at mid-night with his superior officer in Gen. Acheampong’s Cows Tracing Exercise.

In the mid-1980s Awuku Ansah from Akuapem Mampong, was one of the troops sent to a location is our eastern plains to track down caretakers, who according to informants, have permanently, appropriated personal cows belonging to the executed head of state and were about to herd them to different locations. The operational instruction, our exclusive source established, was that every movement must be thwarted during the operational hours. An operational officer, it is alleged, who was supposed to be in his combat gear, was seen in civil clothing together with a herdsman, whom it is presumed, knew nothing about this maneuver. Awuku Ansah sounded halt and heard, an “officer!” He doubted this and rightly so, gave a warning shot. That was his discharge book after weeks in guardroom. The officer is still at post.

If we consider all these together with A.C.P. Kofi Boakye and Sgt Annobil’s fables then, we can be frightened or even moaned to witness how our homeland Ghana has swayed from zero presence of drugs to our current settlement where, allegedly, our beloved country is appallingly flooded in drug tales, small arms, prostitution and all its related rituals. But we refuse to accept Ghana as heavily infested drug peddling country. Otherwise, we would have doubted Mrs. Georgina Wood J Committee’s ability to finish its chore that has mooted hues over rule of law and as usual, has metastasized into what we describe as an acidic nursing pad for that chronic sore of the twin-pillar of our executive- the police and the judicial service, which former IGP Kyei and Captain Huppenbauer (rtd), have already diagnosed but remained incurable.

It is particularly noticeable in the discussion of this mysterious missing cocaine and maybe, other related issues, where some might expected a more condemnatory tone rather than self-exhorting or gratifications such as: ‘we knew who the drug dealers were’ as our learned President Kufuor is alleged to have said. Not forgetting our legal brainchild- the Minority Leader Alban Bagbin, telling Journalist Nana Sifa-Twum of Kasapa Radio, and his audience in the UK, that ex-diplomat Frank Benneh, was a drug-user but not peddler, as it is being mooted against Hon Amoateng of the NPP. It is quite balance, reflecting the very diverse outlooks from which these great statesmen reasoned. But they could have being fairer if they had taken off their political glasses.

Perhaps, we have demonstrated that the solution to our present predicament must not be based on perceived political cheat, endemic ethnic arm-twisting and of course, strait-jacket opposition tactics that had been the hallmark of our self-determination. True, we would have being conduit of falsehood or scholarly dishonest, if we were not to mention opposition party haunted by ideological bankruptcy and yes, a regime resolved to recover power deficits. But, does history not tell us that no individual or group had succeeded in exploiting the solidarity or weaknesses of Ghanaians forever?

To combat drug peddling we must be educated on strategic global intelligence rather than choruses based on ethnic or political platitudes that crumble with time and space. As Kendall argues, “If our job in law enforcement is to interrupt the supply of drugs, then our most powerful tool for attack would be international cooperation and good international intelligence.” (Ibid) Here, a durable national security path shrouded in utmost confidentiality and above all, devoid of institutional and ancient bitterness.

Asante Fordjour
School of Law
University of East London, UK

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.