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18.05.2004 General News

Ghana Police run short of handcuffs

By Chronicle
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Suspects/accused languish in jail as... If there is anything that the police service in this country should claim it lacks in this era of positive change, it should definitely not be handcuffs. This is because the Kufour administration has, within three years, gone as far as providing the service with modern equipment, sufficient vehicles, improved housing and sophisticated weapons, even to the chagrin of critics.

Strangely enough, some men in the service are still crying that they cannot do their work because they lacked handcuffs. Unbelievable!

But that is the case at the Ashaiman Divisional Command, and they are still waiting for manna from heaven.

The Chronicle can say authoritatively that for nearly one week now, the police there have not been able to send suspects and accused to court, making them languish in their cells through no faults of theirs.

The paper's sources at Tema said that the situation at the circuit court last week was nothing to write home about, as relatives who thronged there to give moral support to their loved ones had to go back home in despair.

In fact normal proceedings suffered temporary hitches because the police failed to produce those whose cases were billed for hearing.

A simple test case last week, was that of one Lawrence Akuaku, a staff of Dunamis Securities of Accra, who is in remand at the James Fort Prison, and could not appear before Justice Teye of Circuit Court 'A' since May 12, this year, to open his defense in a case in which he was to answer assault charges. And for nearly a week, the poor boy is still yet to get even bail, as his lawyer could not get that done for him in the court.

According to our sources, one Kwablah Adzaotor, a passer-by who said he witnessed the April 12 incident at Ashaiman, because of which Lawrence was sent to remand, he went an extra mile to engage the assistance of the Ghana Legal Aid Board (LAB) to get justice for the poor boy, but no one could bring him to court to effect the needed justice.

“After engaging the LAB, Investigator Quainoo, first said there was no vehicle (Black Maria) to go round the cells and prisons for suspects. That was on the 12th. We went back home only to be told the following day, by the investigator, that Lawrence could not be brought because there were no handcuffs to bring him,” he narrated.

The source, proved by observers at the court, continued that even on Friday (three days after) the investigator called to say that he still could not produce his man, and had asked the relatives of the accused to, once again go back to Ada and try their luck seven days later. And as at the time of filing this story, Lawrence and his colleagues are behind bars.

He has been there for five weeks. Only God knows when Lady Luck would smile on them.

All efforts to reach the public relations director of the police, A.S.P. David Eklu, for comments proved futile, but unconfirmed reports reaching the paper indicate that Lawrence's case is not an isolated one.

Similar complaints have been reported from other regions, with the recurrence gaining alarming proportions.

But what is most worrying is the fact that, if and when they are eventually brought to the courts, whatever judgments that are passed do not compensate for the period lost in searching for handcuffs and vehicles.

Justice delayed is justice denied indeed.

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