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Dagbon Violence: Ghana Police – Are they Neutral National Servants or NPP Zombie

2008-09-21 14:17:47
This article has been read 1105 times.

The recent violence in Tamale and Gushegu in the Northern Region of Ghana have told a million stories about the attitude, conduct, professionalism, and political polarization of the Ghana Police.

The duty of the Police is to enforce the laws of Ghana: keep law and order; prevent or bring lawlessness under control, make arrest of those who break the law or cause violence or commit crimes; inform and educate the public about the laws of Ghana; coordinate or liaise with the judiciary; keep peace; among many others.

In dispensing this noble duty the Police are required, as well as are expected, to show neutrality, impartiality, fairness, professionalism, honesty, and dedication at all times. In fact, in a normal democratic dispensation and civilized setting, policing is supposed to be a healthy, cordial, ‘symbiotic’ partnership between the general public and the police force. The police must not be seen to be taking sides with any political party or faction, simply because the police service survives several governments and their political parties.

Nevertheless, when it comes to Dagbon, there is a sharp departure from the appropriate manner in which policing should be carried out and how it is done, especially in the past couple of years. The police have openly manifested to the citizenry of Dagbon that they are the stooges of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), owing to the fact that they have overtly exhibited their bias in favor of the NPP government and its supporters, which, as it were, is as unfair to non-NPP sympathizers living in Dagbon as is a double standard.

The August 30, 2008 violence in Tamale had a “chemical” dimension, that is, an action and a reaction. Earlier in the day, the action was initiated by NPP gun-wielding supporters who displayed their fire power amidst firing of shots, burning of motorbikes and destroying of NDC billboards, all in broad day light. According to an eye witness account, as all this happened, elements of the Ghana Police Service were seen in the vicinity of the action, but amazingly, they were there as spectators – they just stood by and watched and failed to apprehend the deranged NPP supporters. When quizzed why they failed to apprehend and make arrests, the police revealed that they were ordered by their boss not to confront any NPP trouble-makers. How awesomely unbelievable! Later that day however, irate NDC supporters, outraged by the action of the NPP supporters and the nonchalant attitude of the police on the scene, decided to go in for their fire power in reaction to the action by their political archrivals. The NDC gun-wielding youths displayed their guns, fired shots in the air at a location pretty close to the grounds where Dr. Bawumia was holding his first rally in Tamale as NPP presidential running mate, hence foiling the rally. Similarly, all this took place in the glare of day light with no one apprehended or arrested by the police. In retrospect, what happened in Tamale was just the tip of the iceberg.

Outrageously, just 24 hours after the despicable violence that rocked Tamale, an even more inhuman violence broke out in the heartland of Dagbon, thus Gushegu. On September 1, 2008, gun-wielding NPP supporters, in broad day light, gruesomely killed innocent Dagombas (among the victims were supporters of NDC and members of the Andani Royal Gate). What is more, dozens of houses, stores, and vehicles belonging to NDC supporters were burnt. According to an eye witness account, as the mayhem unfolded, elements of the Ghana Police stationed in Gushegu were seen at the scene of the carnage, but apparently, they just stood by, watched, and did absolutely nothing to stop the mania. According to an eye witness, one of the police on site couldn’t hold his tears from pouring down his face as he helplessly observed the arrogant destruction in progress and bellowing of victims. The eye witness further revealed that the police officers lamented that they were ordered not to arrest the NPP killers, and more so, they were short-handed at the time. “It was perfectly clear that the police at the scene of the carnage acted on the instructions of their bosses not to act against the NPP murderers,” narrated the eye witness. The violence at Gushegu was described as a spillover of a tussle between NDC and NPP supporters at Kpatinga earlier in the day over the set up of a pavilion.

Painfully, what has been revealed during the recent violence is the compelling attestation to the allegations of widespread corruption and the political polarization of the Ghana Police Service along party lines, which is now at its pinnacle. Frankly speaking, the attitude of the police in both Tamale and Gushegu is just as reprehensible as the violence itself, for the reason that it is not only politically incorrect for the police to have that demeanor, but also, it has the potential of setting off confusion and anarchy in Dagbon. As it happens, the police, instead of being part of the solution to the security crisis in Dagbon, are rather part of the problem.

We, as a nation, during this elections period, have to be extremely careful, circumspect, responsible, and sensitive with the way we go about the electioneering as the tintinnabulations of chaos have already begun echoing across the four walls of Dagbon - the flashpoint and the Achilles’ heel of Ghana’s security and peace.

I hereby urge the police to play their role professionally, devoid of partiality, favor, and political polarization. The police should be able to apprehend and arrest criminals even if their superiors command them to the contrary, because it is the right thing to do for Ghana. Moreover, government should refrain from influencing the police in a way that would further polarize the force, because it is as dangerous as it is suicidal to our dear country.

The question that continues to linger in my mind about the Police stationed in Dagbon today is: Are they Neutral National Servants or NPP Zombies? Fellow citizens, let us remember that a nation divided is a nation defeated. It is only wise for us to live together in peace.

Peace for Dagbon! Peace for Ghana!

Thank you.

By: Natogmah Issahaku
(Dagbon Peace, Re-unification, and Development Advocate)

Hails from Jisonaayilli, Tamale

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