From the Holy Bible, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (ESV). How soon can this happen in Ghana?
Lawlessness is killing this country but it seems there is no one to stop it because those engaging in it are all above the law. The sad aspect is that some of the very institutions which are assigned the duty of ensuring that lawlessness is checked are rather the culprits.
Last Tuesday, national security operatives threw the rule of law, constitutionalism and common sense aside and invaded the University of Ghana, Legon, under the cover of darkness to demolish a tollbooth.
There has been a controversy over the tolling of Legon roads, forcing some students to take the issue to court.
The authorities of Legon claim they have the right to toll the roads within the university. They find it fit and appropriate to exempt the staff from paying the toll but never realised that registered students are also entitled to use the roads in the same way as the staff.
How can the university justify that the workers are part of the community and can move in and out as much as they like, but the students, who are also legitimate residents, cannot do same? Instead of the usual ‘aluta’ and disruption of classes and other academic activities, the students chose the most civil way by going to court.
However, the National Security Co-ordinator, retired Lt-Col Larry Gbevlo Lartey, who I learnt is a lawyer, doesn’t understand what the rule of law is. Intoxicated by his powers, he decided to demolish a tollbooth under construction at Legon because, according to him, it was creating traffic jam on the main Accra-Madina road, causing security breach.
He said the situation (the traffic) compelled him to hold an emergency meeting with security chiefs who together took the decision to remove “that nuisance” to enable the public to go about their duties without any hindrance.
According to the Daily Graphic of February 19, 2014, when asked if he informed the university of the ‘nuisance’, he said “security issues are best solved by the security”. Well, that is true, security issues are not solved by primary school pupils or farm labourers. However, the truth is that security issues in any country are solved with the best security advice and consideration based on law.
The issue about the tolling of the University of Ghana roads was before both the courts and Parliament, so how come the country’s security co-ordinator, who must know that disrespecting the courts and Parliament is a severe security breach, would go under the cover of darkness and violate the principle of the rule of law?
The simple truth is that Gbevlo-Lartey has taken the law into his own hands. He does not have respect for the rule of law, and thinks that he is the law itself and, therefore, can do whatever he wants.
So which security chiefs is Gbevlo-Lartey claiming to have met and taken the decision to demolish the Legon tollbooth? And since when did he realise that traffic jams are security breaches and what has he done until last Tuesday? Don’t we see traffic jams in Accra and other cities every day? In Accra, we see these heavy traffic jams with policemen still standing by at vantage points in the name of ‘police visibility’, but taking no action.
In functional democracies, Gbevlo-Lartey would have been fired immediately after he returned to his house from the brute demolition exercise last Tuesday night, yet he continues with his arrogance.
Recently, a national security adviser at the Presidency, Brigadier-General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah, insulted Ghanaians by telling us to take our passports and leave the country if we thought the situation was difficult, but government did not say a word to him because he was above the law. It is not surprising, therefore, that the government has not made any comment on Gbevlo-Lartey’s Rambo-style jungle action because surely he is above the law.
Let’s consider another lawless act which happened on the same Tuesday, February 18, 2014. The Daily Graphic of February 19, reported that following the brutish way the Tema Development Corporation demolished houses at Adjei Kojo in the Tema metropolis, a joint police and military team went to the site trying to collect the debris in an attempt to cover any substantial evidence which could easily indicate the number of houses demolished.
According to the paper, the policemen and soldiers subjected some people who were already brooding over their loss to severe beatings. One Mr Amedzro, who was standing nearby, was arrested and subjected to “severe beatings” and hit with the butt of a rifle, whipped with a stick and given some hefty slaps before he was sent away in a police jeep.
Another man, one Mr Gammey, who was alleged to be capturing the brutalities on his mobile, was also maltreated and shoved into a waiting jeep and driven away, forcing officials from the National Disaster Management Organisation who were there to provide relief items for the people to flee.
In Dormaa Ahenkro, the Omanhene, Osagyefo Agyeman Badu II, is reported (Daily Guide of February 19, 2014, page 7) to have taken the law into his hands by issuing a fatwa expelling the general manager of the Presbyterian Hospital, Fred Effah Yeboah, from the town. Irate fans of the chief were reported to have attacked Gift FM in the town for violating the chief’s order not to report his banning orders.
Before these incidents, police personnel had participated in the demolition of structures at Adehyeman Gardens in Kumasi without any reference to the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, raising concerns about under whose authority the structures were demolished.
And another lawless behaviour which never attracted any serious sanctions was how the District Chief Executive for Ahafo-Ano South, Mr Gabriel Barima, flared up at a public function attended by chiefs and people of Mankranso in Ashanti, threw away a microphone with which he was addressing the people and walked over the people because someone in the audience had said tweaa.
When will this lawlessness stop? Who can stop it when we are sitting on the constitution and making tin-gods out of public officials? Posterity is already in danger. Oh God, please save us!
PS: We are still waiting, Mr Inspector-General of Police, the children and widow of Adjei Akpor, the 22-year-old man your men killed at Adenta on January 6, 2014, are still waiting for your response?
The author is a Journalist and Political Scientist. He is the Head of the Department of Media and Communication Studies, Pentecost University College, Accra. – [email protected]