03.04.2024 Headlines

Impounding vehicles: A-G can't direct police on operational works - Toobu

Impounding vehicles: A-G can't direct police on operational works - Toobu
03.04.2024 LISTEN

Peter Lachene Toobu, a Member of the Defence and Interior Committee of Parliament, has expressed dissatisfaction with a letter purportedly from the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, directing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on operational matters.

The Wa West Member of Parliament, representing the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), emphasised that while the Attorney-General serves as the chief legal advisor and the IGP as the chief law enforcer, the Attorney-General does not possess the authority to direct the IGP on operational matters.

Upon encountering the letter, which lacked a file number and was purported to be from the Attorney-General, Mr Toobu was surprised, asserting that the Attorney-General lacks the power to dictate operational procedures to the IGP.

He argued that if the Attorney-General identifies issues with Legislative Instrument (L.I) 2180, the appropriate course of action would be to advocate for its amendment or repeal through Parliament, rather than issuing what he deemed as frivolous directives to the IGP.

Mr Toobu, a former police officer himself, shared his perspective during an interview on the Ghana Yensom morning show on Accra 100.5 FM on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

He emphasised that collaborative efforts between the Attorney-General and the Police would be more productive in addressing any concerns regarding the law of police impounding vehicles that jump red lights.

He noted that the impounding of some of these vehicles saved lives and property.

Additionally, he suggested that if the Attorney-General had collaborated with the IGP, the latter could have issued an Internal Police Order (INPO) directive to review the implementation of L.I 2180 by operational personnel.

Earlier, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame advised the Inspector General of Police, Dr George Akuffo Dampare to direct Police officers to desist from impounding vehicles whose drivers engage in misdemeanours.

According to Mr Dame, crossing the red light and driving without a valid insurance certificate are offences for which the offending vehicles should not be impounded.

“As Attorney-General and the principal legal adviser to the Government, I advise that police officers should desist from the impounding or prohibition of the use of a motor vehicle for minor offences such as an alleged violation of any of the rules of the road contained in Regulation 106, and other provisions pertaining to crossing the red light or driving a vehicle without a valid insurance certificate etc,” the Attorney-General wrote in a letter dated 9 February 2024 to the Inspector General of Police.

He explained: “An application of the road traffic regulations, particularly Regulation 158 requires fairness, candour and reasonableness.

"The impounding of a vehicle is not necessary for proof of a violation of any of the rules contained in Regulation 158 or indeed, most of the provisions in L. I. 2180.

"Thus, a position that the vehicle is required to be “used as an exhibit” in court is untenable and unreasonable.”

Mr Dame further explained that the practice has resulted in needless costs to the state with the potential to cause judgment debts.

“An unreasonable exercise of discretion or a failure to adhere to the advice herein has the tendency to result in unnecessary suits against the Government, occasioning needless expense and potentially avoidable judgment debts.

“The Office of the Attorney-General is already inundated with many suits arising from wrongful exercise of discretion and negligence by police officers.

Further, it ought to be noted that responsibility for maintaining the condition of an impounded vehicle shifts from the owner of the vehicle to the State. Impounded vehicles are exposed to the risks of deterioration and theft of essential parts,” Mr Dame stated.