18 January 2013

Ghana: Is the Ghana Police Biased Politically?


A motley crowd of young men and women, in paraphernalia of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), besieged the premises of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, as hearing began on the party's application to be joined in the petition against the declaration of John Dramani Mahama as winner of the December 7, 2012 presidential election.

Armed with raffia canes, they reportedly attacked passers-by, including a pregnant woman, lashing them with the canes as they pleased.

Pathetically, the Ghana Police Service, whose men were out there in force and armed to the teeth, could not arrest a single person.

When questioned on radio Thursday morning, the Greater Accra Police PRO, an Assistant Superintendent, said the police could not arrest anyone because as they approached the crowd to question the ruffians about their mission, they apparently sensed danger and ran away or disappeared.

This criminal negligence on the part of the police is condemnable in the strongest terms. A service which had pledged itself to preserve the peace in the run-up to, during, and after the elections, sees a partisan armed mob around the Supreme Court, which is adjudicating in a presidential petition, and allows them to walk away. Is that what our British masters taught the Ghana Police? Quite disgraceful, to say the least.

The Chronicle cannot say for sure whether this negligence is the result of fear of joblessness or crass incompetence. What we know is that it has enabled the two major political parties - the NDC and the opposing New Patriotic Party (NPP) - to continue in their pastime of raising the political tension in the country, and may have, unwittingly, set the scene for a clash of party thugs next Tuesday, when the Supreme Court would sit again to deliver its ruling on the NDC's application for joinder in the election petition.

The NDC General-Secretary has reportedly claimed that though the people were in NDC T-shirts, they could not be actual NDC boys and girls, but mischief-makers intent on giving the party a bad name, and that if they had been true NDC people, they would have been properly organised. The NPP, on the other hand, insists that the mob could only have been NDC people, and none other, and that the NDC should beware, because they are not the only group that could raise hoodlums just by raising the arm.

Given the fact that both parties appear to have well-oiled "diabolics" departments, which specialise in mischief making at the expense of the other, The Chronicle cannot put any such thing as impersonating the other beyond either of them.

But, it would have been easier to clarify matters, if the police had been alive to their duty and responsibility in arresting some of them. But, apparently, they are afraid of anything with links to the government in power.

What at all could be the matter with our police? The British Police, who trained them and also operate under the Ministry of Interior (Home Affairs), discharge their duties blindly (without fear or favour) regardless of whose ox is gored. Why is the Ghana Police constantly looking over their shoulders in discharging their duties?

Are there safeguards or checks on executive interference in the administration of the British Police that are not available to our IGP and his boys and girls here? The Chronicle would like to know. Maybe the time has come to make more state institutions as fortress-like as the Electoral Commission, even though politicians are unhappy with anything they cannot manipulate to their advantage. And we would like to include the Police Service.

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