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Opinions of Friday, 25 March 2016

Columnist: Emmanuel Acheampong Adomako

The audacity of crime

Life’s happenings mostly hum indistinct and other times come through like a piercing scream, forcing you to stop and ponder. A recent happening caught me in such a state.

Who would ever imagine that robbers would breach the sanctity of a church in the middle of the capital as they murdered and robbed? And yet they did.

The world is a good place, people helping each other and philanthropists doing good. But the world is not an innocent place; humans visit on humans the most dastardly of crimes. Crime has always been with us and it is not strange. What is strange is the new sort of crime; the brazen murders once considered the stuff of Hollywood. Armed robbery used to mean, machete wielding youth held you up and took your stuff away. Gun wielding youth are the new deal and they prefer taking your life as well. I wonder what has happened to us, to shed blood wantonly.

In 2015, the police recorded more than five hundred cases of Murder. A business woman from Kumasi was reportedly murdered by her partners in Walewale. A student at the Ho polytechnic was murdered in her dormitory .A politician in the UE was murdered in a douse of acidic solution whilst an MP was stabbed in his gated home in Accra. Parliamentarians love to rally around their own and fiercely protect their interests. Once again they did not disappoint. The MPs have since called for police protection for individual members. Those elected to represent us are scared of us.

The police are pathetic and the justice system is for the highest bidder. We always suspected this and Anass’ investigative work did away with whatever little trust we had in the judicial system. Those who can afford it have taken matters in their own hands. Imported breeds of dogs are in vogue; a symbol of wealth and security. The wealthy barricade themselves behind high walls, away from the scum and vermin of society. But as the rich breed the wildest dogs and retreat behind higher and yet higher walls, the scum and vermin get scummier and more brazen.

We are a very unequal society with a warped view of success too. The status symbol is sporting a pot belly and driving a fuel guzzler on pot-holed roads. In our society perhaps the words of the French poet, Balzac runs truest: “Behind every great wealth is a crime”. The government sucks in loans and aid, which filter through to the coffers of the rich. And when this becomes national debt, then the very existence of the poor is taxed to repay these loans. The poor are undone on several levels. By conniving with their cronies at the Revenue Authority, the rich underpay their taxes and under declare cheap Chinese imports which only go to undermine the very poor.

The cartel called government. Our system of governance is probably best compared to the Mafia scheme of racketeering and intimidation. And just as with the mafia, unless you pay homage to the family, then don’t expect a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

There is a promising young man, hardworking and brilliant. He completed university a couple of years ago and has since been stuck on the highway of perpetual unemployment. In another part of the country a government position opened up. Through personal connections, the young man got to know of the vacancy. He approached the senior official in charge of the department and submitted his application. This senior official forced out of this young man an irrational sum in order to secure the job. Across the country irrational sums are forced out of people in order to get a permit, process insurance or even make a docket disappear.

The church offers no sanctuary. The new religion in town is one which promises eternal wealth, now! With a mix of incoherent doctrines, the new church is a pyramid with a broad base of poor people led by a narrow apex of wealthy leaders. Somehow, all the promised blessings seem to stay at the top.

With no justice in government, the courts or religion, we judge and execute justice as we see fit. And thus the spate of contract killings and lynchings.
With no hope for economic justice and the wealthy forever teasing the poor, should we be surprised at the sheer audacity of crime?