Traveling with top American documentary filmmakers and local journalists, we uncover massive abuse of power by a member of the Ghana Police highway patrol team.
Fresh investigations by the New Crusading Guide has revealed that some police officers have resorted to using highway patrol duties for their personal benefit, intimidating civilians at will, flexing their guns and threatening to beat up and kill those who question their authority.
In a series of ongoing exposes by this newspaper and its readers, we begin with the story of police officer Justice Nunekpe of the Ghana Police service. Over the course of two weeks, this police officer has been observed mounting random checks and stopping cars between Nsawam and Anyinam on the main Accra to Kumasi road. In a day, police officer Justice Nunukpe together with some colleagues park their police car at over seven points within the short stretch to intimidate, extort money or abuse drivers and road users who question their authority. Brandishing AK 47 assault rifles and dressed in helmets and heavy police gear, these officers do not just check cars, they end up assaulting some passengers.
In Ghana, police highway patrols are meant to protect civilians, check road safety and ultimately ensure the security of all Ghanaians.
In the past, the efforts of police highway patrol teams have led to the seizure of illegally acquired weapons or helped stalled comes on our major highways. As such, there is the need for both civilians and police officers to give each other respect to achieve this positive aim of public safety and security. Yet, the behavior of Police officer Justice Nunekpe, as captured by our cameras is anything but professional.
On one ride with some top American documentary filmmakers from Accra to Kumasi, we encountered Police officer Justice Nunekpe and his colleagues a few minutes after Nsawam. As usual, he stopped the vehicle and ordered our driver to open the boot. Knowing him for his bullying tactics which we observed over the course of two weeks, the driver dutifully obeyed and opened his boot. Brandishing his AK 47 assault rifle, the officer then asked him to open about 7 bags that contained camera and filming equipment. The driver started unpacking.
Just then, the officer called another one of his colleagues who joined him and then they rushed from the boot towards one of the filmmakers inside the car who was the whole incident on him phone's camera. Showing his gun, the officer asked the filmmaker to hand over his camera. The filmmaker refused by saying no to the police officer. In an angry exchange of words between the two, the police officer pushed the filmmaker in his seat, which blocking the car door and holding on to his gun.
Sticking with this intimidation tactic, the officer held on to the passenger door with one hand while holding his gun with the other, leaving no room for the filmmaker to step out or turn around. This continued for long, until one of the local journalists called another police officer on phone to intervene.
"You're lucky it's because of my boss, otherwise you'll be crying by now," the police officer said to another filmmaker in the car.
Although Ghana enjoys relative peace and has been lauded by the international community and the world at large, actions such as that exhibited by this police officer go a long way to tarnish the image of the country. According to one of the American documentary filmmakers who witnessed the scene, officers like this should be checked to prevent police brutality. He cited examples of police mishandling and killing citizens in the U.S., which has led to several unrests and the black lives matter movement. "Just look at the way he was holding that gun. It can just go off on anybody and then he'll say it's an accident," the filmmaker observed. "Ghanaians should make sure such things don't happen in such a peaceful country".
Check out photos captured of this police officer and look out for videos on social media. Share and capture police abuse on our roads too. Be part of the change.