Many police officers have been excited at my series on “WHY WE DON’T WIN THE CORRUPTION FIGHT.” Some have written to me and others have spoken to me privately. They tell of even more ugly and shameful stories of how politicians, notable chiefs and influential members of society, but the politicians in particular are literally destroying the criminal justice system.
This they do by intimidating and actually getting officers punished via sheer wicked painful demoralising transfers and issues of promotion and the little morale-boosting privileges every officer looks to including being selected for dollar-paying missions and training opportunities.
Top officers have double confirmed to me they won’t dare arrest certain persons or that when they do, it rarely can be intended to end in prosecution or one that wins. My new friend I would call ‘Komanda’ says: “My brother, you will be victimised. You and your family will suffer if you don’t learn how to deal with cases involving politicians.”
He and colleagues are overjoyed someone is telling Ghanaians how terribly they get treated for simply doing their jobs. A few years ago, Komanda felt so betrayed by the service when his superiors didn’t protect him at a time he needed it so badly. His crime was he refused to take orders from a politician who demanded termination of investigations into a barefaced criminal activity involving his associate and party campaign financier.
Komanda gave me a loud mocking laugh when I praised the service for a rather bold and swift action in arresting thugs connected to the governing party for their recent lawless conduct. He, rather asked me to “cut the joke” as he warned me not to say a word about that bit of our conversation. If the commander by you this moment is smiling at this, declare him busted!
But I didn’t tell you he is my friend, Komanda. You sure know I don’t ‘champion’ the cause of the police blindly. They just happen to show up in my previous articles and now my fighting corruption series. I have celebrated my encounters with the bold, the patriotic and the consummate professionals working in the trying circumstances.
I have said what has to be said about the weak, thieves and misfits in that uniform deserving of great respect. I was at the Accra Regional Command recently and witnessed the Commander and a team of officers exhibit such disrespect for Counsel while treating an accused as someone already convicted of a crime. Well, even convicts have rights.
A complainant was allowed to sit and chat nicely while he shouted at the accused to remain standing for the entire duration of a meeting even though there were chairs apparently pre-arranged to accommodate all persons in that meeting including the accused.
He verbally and physically abused the accused including dragging him out of the meeting for journalists to take pictures (I have written about this picture-taking abuse of rights of accused persons upon my return from an international conference that assessed the criminal justice system in Africa in June 2016) even though his own officer had taken some already on his orders.
He questioned the professional competence of a subordinate in front of all for granting bail to an accused provisionally charged with a misdemeanour. He shouted for handcuffs to re-arrest an accused who had been on bail for days and voluntarily presented himself on that day. Guess what?
All this, including the police inviting the press to cover them abuse the rights of an accused was simply to please particular politicians. So, I wasn’t surprised when Chief Supt. Dr. Benjamin Agordzo, Director in charge of Transformation passionately reechoed and re-argued for some insulation of the service through means starting with independence of office and security of tenure for the IGP, just as is the case in countries like Kenya, and as we do for judges and heads of independent constitutional bodies.
He told a CODEO workshop in Ada this week, where I also presented a paper, and I fully agree with him for such an appointment to be subject to approval by Parliament. He advocates a National Police Service Commission for recruitments, appointments, promotions, transfers and disciplinary control.
He also wants us to limit the Minister to give directives to the IGP only in writing and only on matters of Policy, but not how the IGP must execute his/her day-to-day work. This is one major way we shall start winning the fight against corruption – an independent and efficiently bold police.
The politicians know why they made a law to have politicians head district and regional security councils, and why they legislated that police cannot prosecute election offences without first obtaining express written consent of the politician called the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
These ridiculous self-serving arrangements too must change! I had the privilege of meeting with a man who started a carrier from the very bottom of the security services and rose to the very top. I should share with you, next week, how he distinguished himself despite the challenges and fought corruption.
Samson Lardy ANYENINI
1st April, 2017
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