EMMANUEL KWABENA Ofosu, a 37-year-old dealer in second-hand electrical appliances, has sworn to shoot a former Eastern Regional Commander, whose name was given as Mr Kwakye.
Kwabena Ofosu alleged that the commander had endorsed the brutality he suffered at the hands of a police-military patrol team at Koforidua in the Eastern region.
“I hate that man and if I had a gun when he endorsed the serious beatings the police visited on me, I would have shot him straight away”.
Mr Ofosu poured his heart out at a public hearing organised by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in collaboration with the Ghana Police Service on the theme, “Improving Relationship Between the Police and the Public” at Koforidua yesterday.
Mr Ofosu said Mr Kwakwe had alleged that he was an armed robber even though the latter knew him very well because both of them hailed from the same town.
Narrating his story, Mr Ofosu said at about 9.30pm on February 23, 2006, a police patrol team accosted him and his wife on their way home from a church service around the Glamour area.
He said when the police patrol vehicle stopped by them, a military man jumped out of it and held him by the trousers. The soldier said he was under arrest and that he should join them to the police station.
According to him, he demanded to know his offence but the military man insisted that he joined their vehicle.
He told the gathering that another policeman joined the soldier to arrest him.
“I did not know what I had done so I resisted arrest.
“The soldier gave me a hefty slap, whereupon I held his shirt, demanding the reason for the slap.”
According to Mr Ofosu, the soldier brought out a rifle and used the butt to hit him hard several times on the face and head.
“As the soldier continued to hit me with the butt of the gun, the police started beating me, with some kicking me in the abdomen.
I became so dazed that I could no longer resist arrest. I was then sent to the Central Police station.”
He said there, the beatings were even more severe.
“I never knew with the police and the military, the more you plead with them to have mercy on you the more they get angry.”
He told the gathering that as a result of the beatings he bled so much from the nose, ears and the mouth.
“I lost two of my upper teeth as a result of the beatings.”
He said when the case got to the police commander, the man told him that the police had beaten him because they suspected that he and his wife were armed robbers.
“Me, an armed robber!” he exclaimed and said the commander's reason infuriated him so much that if he had a gun he would have shot and killed him.
Mr Ofosu said when he went to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, as a result of the serious internal bleeding, the doctor told him he would have to pay 8,000 euros before he would be operated on.
He said he made a report to the Security Council and the Attorney-General's office but so far his case had not been dealt with.
Other people also narrated similar stories of police brutality.
The Eastern Regional Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Felix Asare-Darko, who was the guest speaker, told the gathering that strict sanctions were applied to police officers that abused their authority.
He said the Police Administration had established the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards Bureau (PIPS) at its headquarters and any member of the public who had any complaint against a police officer could go there to make his complaint.
He gave the assurance that the police administration, as a human institution, was not perfect and that it worked in harmony with the public to enhance maintenance of law and order.
In his welcome address, the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Yaw Barimah said in recent times, the police and the public had had a relationship fraught with suspicion, mistrust and antagonism even though the police were there to facilitate the delivery of justice.
“In fact, the public have on many occasions disregarded the admonitions of the police not to take the law into their own hands to administer justice,” he said, citing a recent case in the Brong Ahafo region where a hospital administrator was lynched because he had been perceived as a criminal.
He said all was not lost as the Police Council, a constitutional body mandated to supervise the Police Service, was doing all it could to remedy the situation.
The Regional Minister called for regular interaction between the public and the police to ensure that confidence lost in the police was gained back.
“We need more of such interactions to ensure the public derive the necessary confidence in the police so that the police can also do their work effectively,” he said.
The coordinator of CHRI Africa Office, Nana Oye Lithur told DAILY GUIDE that there was lack of effective mechanism of police accountability and therefore her organisation committed some money to undertake research into accountability in the police service because it had realised that members of the public who suffered police brutality did not have anywhere to turn to or report.
She said a copy of the research had been given to the police hierarchy to enable it take action.
Nana Oye Lithur also explained that it would be prudent to decentralise the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards Bureau (PIPSB) to ensure that members of the public could have easy access to the office to lodge complaints.
“For a start, I think one PIPSB should be opened in each region and the police to also carry out constant public interaction and education on the new office and the functions of the police,” she said.
The second secretary in Human Rights and Environment at the British High Commission, who chaired the function, Mr Chris Brealey, said the British government had always been supporting the Ghana Police Service to be very professional and was committing 500,000 pounds to support the service this year.