31.01.2009 Features

Who police the Police in Ghana?

Who police the Police in Ghana?
31.01.2009 LISTEN

The Police Service is a vital state organ in Ghana as it is the keeper of public peace, protection of lives and property and maintenance of law and order. Whereas men and women in the Police Service have to be commended for keeping law and order in the country we cannot ignore the deadly corruption and extortion virus that is entrenched in the Police Service. The numerous cocaine scandals involving the top brass of the service in the last couple of years is a culmination of years of money extortion and other corrupt practices that have been going on for decades. The cocaine scandals in particular has damaged the reputation of the Police Service and tainted the image of Ghana and there is no doubt the security of the nation too as is at risk. Many Ghanaians who travel frequently to Europe, America, China, and Dubai can barely understand the humiliation they face in the hands of immigration authorities in these countries as their bags are ransacked by the authorities.

It is a well known fact that when a country's Police Service is corrupt anything can happen in that country. The number of armed robberies and the numerous cocaine scandals and other crimes point to fact that the institutions charged to protect and keep us from criminals are not working. There are instances where Police officers have supplied arms, ammunitions and information to armed robbers and other criminals to commit crime against the people they are suppose to protect. There are instances where Police Officers intercept contraband goods and fail to forward the goods to the district, regional or national Police headquarters.

There are instances where Police officers provide escorts to criminals such as cocaine dealers and illegal timber contractors in exchange for money. There are instances where ceased contrabands being kept by the Police have mysteriously disappeared from their store rooms without a trace. A case in point is that of DSP Patrick Akabgo the exhibit storeroom keeper at the Police Headquarters. DSP Akabgo was accused by the Police Administration for swapping cocaine in his custody with ordinary flour. The interdiction of ACP Kofi Boakye by the Georgina Wood Committee in the cocaine saga shows how ripe bribery and corruption are entrenched in the Police Service. ACP Boakye was caught on tape meeting with drug barons in his house. The recordings on the tape also show how corrupt people entrusted to protect the nation have become.

Most of the accidents in Ghana have been blamed on the Police (MTTU). The Officers at the MTTU have been accused of accepting bribes and turning a blind eye and allow rickety cars and unqualified drivers to operate freely in the country putting the lives of millions of Ghanaians at risk.

There are reports that officers from other units of the Police Service are asking to be transferred to the MTTU unit because of the profitable nature that unit is seen by officers of other units. These reports are boosted by the complaints made by taxi and mini bus drivers everyday. It is difficult to find any taxi driver in Ghana who is not a victim of police extortion. Ask any mini bus (trotro) or taxi driver in Ghana and each one has a story of Police extortion to tell. It is a common knowledge among the driving community that only drivers who fail to pay bribe end up in court in Ghana.

In the face of all these bribery, cover ups and corrupt practices on the part of officers of the Police Service, I have been tempted to ask whether the Police in Ghana are accountable to anyone. I want to know who calls the Police to order when they fail to live up to the tenets set for them. Are the Police accountable to itself? Who protects the Public from Police officers who connive with drug barons to endanger the image and security of the nation? Who protects taxi and mini bus drivers from the ever present MTTU boys on our roads? Who investigates the Police when its members are found to be engaging in misconduct behaviours? Who should I complain to when a Police officer extorts money from me? Is it another Police officer who may be a friend of the extortionist? Who police the Police in Ghana?

I do not think there is any permanent body in Ghana or at least I do not know of any such body in Ghana tasked with handling complaints from the public regarding the Police. In the absence of any public body that receives complaints from the public regarding the behaviour and conducts of Police officers I would like to recommend that there must be the establishment of an Independent Police Complaint Commission to receive complaints from the public regarding the conduct and behaviour of officers of the Ghana Police Service. The Commission must have the authority to discipline officers who misconduct themselves while in office. Such an august body must be well funded and must be staffed with lawyers, judges, sitting and retired police officers and members of the public.

Journalists must do enough to expose these corrupt miscreants in the Service by using hidden cameras to film them. Citizens must be educated on their rights especially in their daily encounter with the Police Service. A law must be enacted to protect officers who decide to blow the whistle about impending corruption in the Service so that the majority honest men and women in the service can expose the bad guys in their mist.

Despite all these recommendations, I still want to know who police the Police in Ghana so I can send my complaints to him or her.

Lord Aikins Adusei
Stockholm, Sweden