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Commentary | Mar 1, 2019

Phone tapping: Ghana Police blunders on!

By Oli A. Rahman
Phone tapping: Ghana Police blunders on!

Ghanaians yearn for a Police Service they can trust, rely on and respect. Indeed, isn’t that what is expected of the police all over the world?

We cannot pre-empt the outcome of the Emile Short Commission into the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, but the performance of the police witnesses has been the police’s own undoing so far. They have simply been neither impressive nor credible, in fact oftentimes embarrassingly inept and inarticulate...DSP Azugu has turned the entire Police Service into the laughing stock of the country. But for the seriousness of the issue under investigation, he would have been considered a comic relief and retired after the Commission’s work is done to go and take up a job as chief security officer for a company that cannot afford to pay for quality.

Still reeling from that episode, it is not likely that the current spat with the chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, would clean their act any. It involves an unauthorised phone tapping of the chairman’s conversation, which was then put out on the social media. After it had gone viral, the police jumped into the fray to “request” the chairman to “assist” in “investigating” the tapped content. Mysteriously, this request also got into the traditional and social media before the chairman could receive his copy.

The question is, who authorised the tapping and recording of the chairman’s phone conversation? Echoes of Watergate here? And another question: Who leaked the police invitation before the intended recipient got his copy and why?

Mr. G. Tweneboah, Assistant Commissioner of Police, a Deputy Director General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) signed for his boss (see above), name not stated but what is in the public domain is a lady with Addo-Danquah in her name and said to be related Nana Addo-Danquah Akufo-Addo who herself was once a “victim” of a social media tape, which she shrugged off claiming it was doctored! Whatever happened to that one too? Things are getting curiouser and curiouser!

The letter, dated 27th February 2019, requesting the chairman of the NDC, said it was in connection with comments “intercepted” by the police on the “traditional and social media” that have – not may have – “security implications”! Wow! Kudos to the Ghana Police for this remarkable feat of “policemanship” in intercepting such evidence on the social and traditional media. Must have taken some advanced sophisticated tracking devises to “intercept” the comments on the social media!

Of course, and no wonder, the traditional and social media have latched on to Mr. Tweneboah’s investigative zeal and are running with it in all directions. Whether he intended it or not, he has also spooked an intense partisan stampede – precisely the kind of state of affairs that is inimical to national security and stability. And if the Ghana Police is now going to make the social media and unauthorised phone tapping its primary sources of getting information, then Ghanaians must brace up for an Orwellian nightmare of Big Brother’s unacceptable intrusive eyes.

Whether the police was betraying a partisan intervention – and many there are who believe so – or not, this is yet another clumsy handling of a politically loaded issue by the police, for seriously, are we being told that anyone can tap into our conversations, and in this particular case that of the chairman of a political party, leak it into the media for the police to pick up and pursue a line of harassment dressed up as investigation? Such a violation, is more the issue in this ongoing farce than Mr. Tweneboah’s hare-brained intercept! As citizens, that should engage us more than what Mr. Ampofo may or may not have said in his private conversation. The content of the intercept is out there being played over and over and some have even transcribed it to be read. Really, those are hardly the kinds of words to destabilize our security. It is the police hysteria that is the danger. This is what in simple, plain English cliché usage is called “A STORM IN A TEA CUP” or “MAKING A MOLE HILL INTO A MOUNTAIN” or what an exasperated manager would minute on a spurious memo: TW – Time Wasting!! The police must stop wasting our time! I believe there is something like that the police can charge a person with, that is, when you lead them in a wild goose chase and waste police time…Now it is the police wasting our time!

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