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28.11.2008 Editorial

Killing should be last resort

Killing should be last resort
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The Ashanti Regional Commander of Police was quoted by Joy FM on Wednesday, this week, as saying that his men would consider anyone who snatches the ballot boxes on the election day, an armed robber, and would shoot to either maim or kill the person.

His comments did not go down well with a section of the people who listened to the news. The Chronicle, however, thinks that before the man is condemned, his comment must objectively be analysed, beforejudgement is passed on him. We do not support the killing of any human being under the circumstances the officer was talking about, but at the same time, one should not gloss over the fact that ballot boxes are considered state property, must be protected at all times.

A single ballot box that is carried away by a thug(s) has the potential to undermine the entire electoral system. The ramification that would follow can be anyone's guess. Under such a circumstance, the police have the duty to ensure that ballot boxes at the polling stations are well protected. Any unauthorised person, who tries to take a ballot box away, could well be described as a nation wrecker, who must not be treated with kid gloves.

We, however, think shooting to either maim or kill, should be the last resort in such a situation. The police officer manning the polling station, can, for instance, call for reinforcements, after which he or she can resort to the firing of warning shots. If the thug(s) still try to take away the ballot boxes, before the reinforcement team arrives, then no one can blame the officer, if he shoots to kill.

Notwithstanding the position we have stated above, we think those who were concerned over the comment by the police boss, have a genuine case. The Ghana Police Service is well noted for killing of civilians, under what has become known as “stray bullets”. With this at the back of their minds, everybody would be terrified if the police were asked to shoot and kill at the polling stations - the trigger-happy ones would fire at the least provocation.

The Chronicle, however, believes that, despite this public comment by the commander, his men would behave as professional police officers, and would not shoot at the least provocation to destroy the beauty of the elections.

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