Judge angry with police prosecutors over narcotic cases

A judge of the Wa Circuit Court has expressed alarm at the apparent indifference on the part of police prosecutors towards narcotic cases.

Mr I.B. Akwantey said many serious criminal cases involving narcotics had been on the dockets for two or three years but had never been mentioned beyond the initial appearance in court.

‘It is a surprise that the police take greater interest in someone who has stolen a goat or a sheep and they make a case for the prosecution of such people. But when it comes to narcotic cases, the disposition is to ask for remand at the first appearance and that is all,’ he said.

He was addressing more than 100 officers of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Upper West Regional Command of the Ghana Police Service.

The occasion was the opening of a two-week training programme for the CID in the region which, according to the CID boss, Mr Prosper Agblor, should equip the police officers with ‘contemporary investigation techniques’.

Mr Akwantey told the Daily Graphic later that about 30 narcotic-related cases were still pending at his court and had not gone beyond their opening in court two to three years ago.

‘I inherited most of these cases from my predecessor and I started a few other ones,’ he said.

In an extempore presentation that must have touched the raw nerves of the policemen, the circuit court judge said crime investigators needed to display greater intelligence and knowledge than the abysmal presentations they sometimes made in court.

‘Sometimes, the facts presented in court have no relevance to the case, while the charges preferred and the laws stated only embarrass the prosecutors,’ he said.

He said the allegation that policemen changed the statements of suspected criminals had also tainted the name of the service and called for a change in attitude to restore the image of what he called an otherwise important state institution.

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Mr Agblor expressed concern over the recent involvement of some policemen in crime and said the police hierarchy ‘will not shield any officer who engages in such practices’.

‘In one instance, a policeman was arrested for robbing a taxi driver. Two others were also picked up for having under-declared cocaine exhibits which they had seized from a suspect. These negative practices tend to dent the otherwise good image of the Police Service,’ he said.

He advised police personnel to refrain from meddling in civil cases, demonstrate respect for human rights and avoid corrupt practices in the discharge of their duties, insisting that ‘arrests, searches and detentions should be carried out within the confines of the law’.

‘I am convinced that with the pedigree of resource persons engaged in this training programme, the participants will be equipped with adequate skills which will enhance their performance when they return to their respective stations,’ Mr Agblor said.

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