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Opinions of Thursday, 4 April 2013

Columnist: Nikoi, Ashie

Suspects in our prisons with expired warrants.

Are the police right?

Nobody will ever be a friend of someone who is likely to put him or her in prison. The situation seemed to be different for some class of people; when they are poor and chanced on the brushes of the laws of Ghana. We know prisons are not meant for one class of people. What happens when a person has a case at the court and that case has not been adjudicated? The Police Service are doing their traditional role of arresting, investigating and prosecuting criminals. Have they always followed all their cases to its conclusion? This has not been the case when the overcrowding situation in the Ghana Prisons Service can in most cases be attributed to suspected criminals in custody who are denied appearance in court in the event of their warrants being expired.

The scenario whereby inmates stay in the prison without seeing justice in the interim is very bad. A lot of misgivings are spelt out clearly into this; it is a national issue. Once somebody has been arrested and put behind bars, I see no reason why such inmates will continue to be in custody without their cases not being heard. How long does it take to institute an investigation when such people who the law permits to be given bail cannot be given bail and are kept in prison custody! Sometimes I am tempted to believe poverty or even ignorance is the side of the other coin for the suspect.
My main concern is about people who continue to be in prison custody with expired warrants. Are those expired warrants has anything to do with ‘national issues’? Once a policeman sends suspect on remand, such case needs to follow the due process to its completion. Is it that the supervisors of the investigators do not check on the investigators to ensure the cases they start end? Are they saying there is no logistics? When such people were arrested was there logistics available at the beginning?
Looking into the government purse with this behavior of keeping people in prison with expired warrants, it is a financial drain on the government when some policemen are not doing their work well and the supervisors gloss over. I am of the opinion that if some of the suspects in our prisons with expired warrants are given the needed attention and their cases followed to its logical conclusion, it will also reduce the government expenditures. You may be wondering whether this is significant. Now that it is clear from the Budget Statement of Ghana for 2013 that we spend 72.3% of our tax revenue. Within a period of about two months when the president his Excellency President John D. Mahama gave the State of the Nation’s Address and the Budget Statement by Mr. seth Tekper, government spending has increased to 11.4%. There are other agitations from other labour front and there is no doubt that government spending will further exacerbate.
There is a saying that little drops of water make a mighty ocean. We are aware that it is not only the food that the government will have to pay whilst suspects are in custody but also when they are sick the government will have to take care of them indirectly through the Prisons Service. Added to the congestion in the prisons, sickness is inevitable. Why should we sit down as a country and look on when some class of workers in the police service put a burden on the government purse? I am appealing to the Inspector General of Police (I.G.P.) to use his good office to minimize some of these nagging problems affecting the government and some family members who will also have to waste a lot of time money visiting suspects at the prisons with expired warrants.