A retired police officer has expressed concern about the increasing trend of offering contract appointments to senior officers who are due for retirement in the Ghana Police Service.

That, Paul Avuyi said, was encouraging a lot more to apply for contract appointment although the law did not ask for applications.

Currently, apart from three senior officers on contract, about six more in the rank of Commissioners have applied to be given contracts, the Daily Graphic has gathered.

He said not only was the practice unlawful but tended to demoralise serving officers who could otherwise move on to occupy those positions.

In an interview with relating to what he termed disturbing developments in the Ghana Police Service, Mr Avuyi called on the government to nullify all contracts granted some police officers to enable them to continue their stay in office.

He said the contract extension was unlawful because the beneficiary retirees did not possess any special skills that serving personnel did not have to occupy those positions.

Such contract extension, he posited, also had the tendency to create tension and apathy among officers who could have assumed those roles and responsibilities.

Mr Avuyi, who retired as a Superintendent of Police, said sub-sections three and four of Section 115 of the Police Service Regulations, 2012, Constitutional Instrument (CI 76) categorically spelt out the details of how contract extensions could be offered.

Section 115 (3) provides that “Where the exigencies of the service require, an officer who retires from the service on attaining sixty years of age may be reappointed on a limited engagement on terms and conditions that the appointing authority shall determine for a period not exceeding two years at a time and not exceeding five years in total.

Sub-section four also states that in spite of sub-regulation three, only the appointing authority shall determine the recommendation to engage an officer for a limited period.

That notwithstanding, Mr Avuyi said the government White Paper on the Archer Commission Report accepted the recommendations of the commission and the criterion that must be met.

He, however, said governments over the years had adopted a pick-and-choose approach in selecting an officer to be offered contract, with some officers even applying for contract extensions when it should not be so.

He cited two classical cases this year in which one officer was asked to proceed on leave prior to his retirement but the other was offered contract extension and also promoted.

“The manner in which appointments, promotions and contracts have been done over the years has tended to demoralise officers, destroy the esprit-de-corps and created an atmosphere of apathy, deep-seated anger and bitterness, frustrations and infighting among officers.

Mr Avuyi said it had become imperative that Presidents stopped the contract extension syndrome as it demoralised the personnel in active service.

IGP Appointment

Mr Avuyi said it was also important that the appointment of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) should be streamlined.

He said the current regime where the President, on the recommendation of the Council of State appointed the IGP, gave room for political machinations and interference in the work of the IGP.

To him, qualified senior officers should be shortlisted, vetted and interviewed by an independent panel of professionals and a recommendation made on the best candidate.

He cited the example in 1990 when Commissioners of Police (COPs) Mr Ernest Owusu-Poku, Mr G. S. Aggor and Mr S. E. Asare, were sidelined but their junior, then Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr J. Y. A. Kwofie, was appointed IGP.

Mr Avuyi said Mr Peter Nanfuri was also jumped above his seniors to take over from Mr Kwofie in 1996.

He said when Mr Owusu-Poku finally assumed office as IGP in 2001, everyone thought the political machinations would have ended.

“In July 2002, Mr S. Owusu-Nsiah was similarly appointed IGP when his seniors, Mr Kwasi Nkansah, the late Mr W. Sam-Awortwi and Mrs Jane Donkor, were still at post.

“Soon after Mr Owusu-Nsiah’s appointment as IGP, Mrs E. Mills-Robertson was later in the same year appointed the First Deputy Inspector-General of Police above the aforementioned officers and few others who were senior to her,” he added.

He said the unhealthy state of affairs could be addressed if the legal framework was reviewed to outline the eligibility criteria, such as age, educational qualification, moral character, rank, experience and competencies, in order to make it operational.

“In the light of the foregoing facts, the Ghana Police Service is crying for a dynamic legislative framework that should regulate the appointment of IGP and award of contracts.

“They are also looking for a framework that should, among others, provide for advertising the IGP vacancy, shortlist qualified applicants, interviews and selection of the most suitable one for parliamentary vetting and approval before his/her appointment by the President in consultation with the Council of State. The status quo should give way to a major paradigm shift.

Auditor-General’s take

In March last year, the Auditor-General, Daniel Yao Domelevo, at a programme at the University of Professional Studies (UPSA), asked the government to stop the re-engagement of retirees on contract to facilitate the fresh employment of graduates.

He indicated that most government officials had been given contracts, which he described as tantamount to blocking promotions of otherwise deserving officers and preventing the employment of fresh graduates from school.

Describing the situation as not conducive for good governance, he explained that the situation was putting a financial burden on the government as beneficiaries received double income as pensioners and salaried workers.

Mr Domelevo explained that a person who was employed on contract did not fall within the definition of a civil servant, and, therefore, his authority to command and maintain discipline “becomes questionable.”