07.07.2004 Feature Article

Letter From The President: Nonsense Police

Letter From The President: Nonsense Police
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Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I don't like writing about the police service. This is because I think the current state of the service cannot get any worse. But a recent news item which caught my attention in one of the newspapers has prompted me to write something about the police. I hope this will be the first and only time I am compelled to write about those our scruffy men in black.

The story in the newspaper had it that one of the most senior police officers in the Ashanti Region is facing a service enquiry “for calling for a new leadership for the service.” Among other things, this officer is reported to have told a seminar that there is a “total lack of vision from the highest to the lowest level” of the Sikaman Police Service. For opening his mouth too wide to speak the truth, his commanders in Accra are seeking to punish him for causing “the entire police service to suffer scorn from the public”.

After reading the news item, I felt like ordering the IGP and all of his lieutenants to be arrested. I wanted the most senior officers – at least the top ten – to be detained in a hospital for their heads to be re-examined. I hope they will not say that I have insulted them if I suggest that they need their skulls to be washed and drained of all the foul grey matter which was used to arrive at the decision for the officer in the Ashanti Region to face a service enquiry. I can't believe that the IGP and his men are pretending to be ignorant of the fact that they lack vision and that their disingenuous leadership bring further scorn to the police everyday. Perhaps, I have tolerated them for too long, giving them the false impression that we, the people of Sikaman, are satisfied with them. Well, today, they've given me cause to tell them my piece of mind.

I will like the IGP and his lieutenants to know that we know that the police service is one of the most corrupt and inefficient organs of our state. It is not a mystery that our police officers cannot solve even the most simple mysteries. Take the stadium tragedy for example. Right under their very noses, spectators decided to break seats and hurl the plastics onto the playing pitch. Three years after the incident, the police have not been able to arrest and prosecute a single individual for causing damage to public property. Take the murder of the Ya Na as another example. This was a crime that was committed in public in broad day light – so witnesses abound. So it should baffle even the person with the weakest mind that the police should have not been able to find the perpetrators by now. Well, you know what happened. At their incompetent best, our police officers gathered some unreliable evidence and tried to build a case against two men. Thank God the case was thrown out of court because the evidence was so paltry that even the untrained mind will know that what the prosecutors presented in court will not hold water, even in the traditional court at Hweehwee.

The IGP and his lieutenants should also know, in case they don't know already, that a lot of Ghanaians do not respect the police anymore. The police service has lost it clout and power. Even the softest of criminals have no qualms about committing a felony in the presence of a police officer. Ask yourself why the spectators decided to break the seats at the stadium in the full glare of dozens of police officers on May 9. They knew that the police don't 'bite'. Ask yourself why there are so many road accidents in Sikaman today. The answer is not too far away – the most errant drivers know that they can indulge in any offence (drink gallons of 'akpeteshie' and drive recklessly) and get away with it by paying off any police officer with a few thousand cedis. Gone are the days when parents used to keep their children disciplined by threatening to have them arrested by a police officer – the child immediately stops whatever misdemeanour he's involved in. These days the more you threaten to call in a police officer the more difficulty you encounter trying to bring your child under control.

A couple of years ago, when our nation's crime rate was skyrocketing out of control, the ineptitude of the police was on full display. We only managed to bring things under control by asking for the intervention of the 'abongo' boys.

At one point, we all came to the realization that the police lacked logistics like cars and communications equipment to enable them respond quickly to criminal situations. We braved opposition criticisms and signed a very questionable deal for my Naija friend, Olu, to supply us with some vehicles. I thought the vehicles will be put to very good use when they were brought in. Well, I am sorry to inform you that the cars are being used these days to drop and pick senior officers' children in schools. When junior officers get the opportunity, they also use the vehicles to 'chase' girls. The IGP himself rides in a long convoy everyday to the Law School at Makola, where he teaches. His students can tell he's coming, even when he's ten kilometres away.

With such rot in the police service, I was pleasantly surprised to read that an officer was calling for a new direction, a new vision and a new leadership for the service. It gave me hope that, at least, there were some few good nuts around and that given the opportunity, our police service could be turned around into a world class crime-fighting institution. I thought the top brass of the service will listen to the 'wise' Ashanti officer and tap into his ideas. In their small minds, they think that they should rather make him face a service enquiry for “bring scorn upon the service”. In fact, what they really want to say is that they fear the officer is trying to stage a coup and the earlier he's stopped, the better their chance of maintaining their positions. I am shocked that the IGP does not know that he is presiding over one of the most scorned institutions in the country and that the comments by the officer from Ashanti rather compelled people like me to consider changing our low opinion of the service.

With this letter, I am instructing the IGP to call off the service enquiry immediately or resign. If he is not ready to concede that the police service is sick, I don't know how he intends to convince us that the service is in any better shape. If he doesn't resign, he will be sacked for the officer he has placed under a service enquiry to take over from him.

No mood for nonsense,

J. A. Fukuor [email protected]

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