columnBy Emmanuel Akli
Oh yes, he was one of my closest friends so when he put in the request that we should go and eat lunch outside, I could not turn it down. We quickly jumped into an underground train, and within a few minutes, we were in downtown Toronto. Before our buttocks could hit the seats offered us at the restaurant, we discovered the menu had already been thrown in front of us.
I ordered a hamburger sandwich with pineapple juice to match, whilst my friend, Mr. Rob Warner, went in for typical local cuisine. After the gastronomic treat, our bills were brought and I readily paid my portion, but just as we were about to leave the restaurant, my Canadian friend dropped two dollar coins on a plate containing the bill, and asked me to do same. For what, I asked, "it is a tip," he responded. I realised that I was drawing the attention of the people eating in the restaurant, so I obliged and dropped a one dollar coin, but my friend insisted that it must be two.
"What a hell are you talking about," I said to myself, but, nevertheless, obeyed the instruction and dropped the remaining one dollar on the plate. The restaurant attendant, who was all along standing beside us when I was arguing with my friend, picked the plate containing the tip and thanked us. Whilst on the way back to campus, that is the University of Toronto, my course mate decided to educate me on what pertains in Canada. According to him, restaurant attendants are not well paid, so it is the tradition of the people to always pay 15% of the bill as tip to them.
Well, if that is the case, then we also pay tips in Ghana, but the customer is not under any obligation to do so. He or she must do so voluntarily, I told him. I later realised that was indeed the tradition, because anytime I went to the restaurant to eat, I was compelled to pay the tips. Well that is Canada, but I am unable to tell that if cocaine in the custody of the police gets missing in Ghana that could also be described as a 'tip' given to our respectable men and women in the black uniform.
Folks, the Police Service is burning because DSP Mawuenyega Tehoda has decided to spill the beans over cocaine 'tips', which has brought the otherwise respected state institution into opprobrium. The ex-police woman, who was alleged to have swapped cocaine being kept as an exhibit with washing soda, but was later freed by the court for lack of evidence is singing like a lost bird in the forest. Her singing has shaken the foundations of the Police Service, forcing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to crack the whip.
Gifty Mawuenyega Tehoda insists that she was used as a sacrificial lamb, and that she did not swap the cocaine, as was being alleged. According to her, the original perpetrators have been left off the hook. But, as Ghanaians wait patiently for the outcome of the investigation into the allegation made by the former police boss, I am wondering whether the police can, indeed, be trusted when it comes to cocaine matters.
Personnel of the service are always in the news for the wrong reasons, which is very worrying, because it wipes away all the good work they are doing to protect life and property in the country. A couple of years ago, fuel stations in the country were closing early for fear of being attacked by armed robbers. Citizens of this country could also not sleep, because they did not know when these armed robbers would strike. Even though armed robbery has not been stopped entirely, one cannot deny the fact that the police have helped to bring it down considerably.
They are always on our streets, especially in the night, with snap checks to hold back the activities of the armed robbers. In the course of discharging their duties, some of them lose their lives. I will, therefore, be the last person to overlook the sacrifices being made by the police to ensure that there is security in this country for the citizens to go about their work without any fear of being attacked. But, this does not also mean that the people of this country should not comment if the very institution that is supposed to live above reproach is indulging in disgraceful conducts.
A country can be said to be a failed one if it allows the use of hard drugs such as cocaine to fester. Because countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Columbia, Uruguay, and Mexico, just to mention a few, failed to deal with the drug menace from the scratch. It has today, become a Gordian knot they are struggling to untie. America and some of the European nations are also pumping billions of dollars into security that would help stop the drug menace from taking root in their respective countries. It is based on this that Ghana has also waged a war against the use of narcotic drugs in the country, and also preventing the cartel from using here as a transit point.
Unfortunately, the police, who are supposed to help in dealing with this development, have turned themselves into a cartel doing all manner of things with drugs that are seized and kept in their custody. It is only here in Ghana that drugs seized from couriers and handed over to the police can all of the sudden turn into konkonte (cassava flour). Despite the presence of Close Circuit Television, no police officer has been arrested, tried and punished for this strange disappearance.
We are all also witnesses to the cocaine that was seized on the high seas by the Navy, based on the promptings from outside intelligence network, but vamoosed under strange circumstances when it was being escorted to the shore. As if this is not enough, cocaine being kept as an exhibit with the police also became washing soda when it was opened in court. If all these drugs are disappearing under the very watchful eyes of the police, then I dare say that some of the personnel who are involved in this nocturnal business would not mind selling intelligence information about Ghana to the other side of the world.
My understanding is that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Paul Tawiah Quaye, has interdicted some of the top police officers in connection with the latest cocaine scandal to have rocked the security agency, and ordered investigations into the case. I fully support the decision, especially when Gifty Mawuenyega Tehoda, the dismissed police women who was earlier arrested in connection with the latest case but set free by the court, has given clues as to how the investigation should be conducted.
I, however, disagree with the IGP that the same police institution should conduct investigations into the allegation - I mean the turning of cocaine into washing soda. The Police Service cannot be a player and still pretend to be the referee. This is a sensitive national issue that must not be left in the hands of the police alone to handle. This is not the first time the police are being accused over missing cocaine. It has happened several times without those behind this disgraceful act being detected, so the best thing to do is to fall on sister security agencies such as the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) or National Security for succour.
The police have a constitutional mandate to arrest and punish perpetrators of crimes, but if the same body is now committing the wta orst crimes, it is a worrying development that should attract the attention of every Ghanaian. To me, the allegations made by Tehoda are very serious and should not be swept under the carpet until the police officers who were behind the swapping of the cocaine with washing soda are found and punished.
This country would be setting a bad precedent if the police are allowed to see cocaine in their lawful custody as tips, which they could utilise without any qualms. Already, passengers travelling on Ghanaian passports are subjected to all kinds of security checks at the European and America airports, therefore, if the constant disappearance of cocaine in the custody of the police is not stopped, Ghanaian travelers would be experiencing worse forms of harassment at the aforementioned airports. After all, if the police man or woman cannot be trusted when it comes to narcotic drugs, how much more the ordinary man? I rest my case and shall return soon.