When The Police Get Choosy

One of the negative attributes of the Ghana Police Service is its selective enforcement of the law. Its Animal Farm style of performance is a justifiable source of worry.

The police actions and inactions are predictable to a fault, something which has added to the image contagion the institution is suffering and impacting negatively upon its efficiency. Not that it is the only state institution which is listing badly in terms of its appeal to the public, but because as the foremost enforcer of the law, personnel should be bereft of image blemishes – avoidable ones of course – as in the case of allowing themselves to be pushed around by politicians.

Regarding the predictability of the institution, one such instance played out last week when the Northern Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Bugri Naabu, was said to have passed some remarks to which the ruling party’s branch in the same region called them (police) to take action.

Equally so, Rev Owusu Bempah also made a prediction which the law enforcement agency found worthy of probing and proceeded to invite him for questioning.

Fantastic observation that is! The police have responded to emerging developments which is what is expected of a law enforcement agency worth its salt. Unfortunately, we can predict as we have always done that when same remarks are made by politicians on the other side of the political divide, the police would hardly react as they have in the case of the NPP Regional Chairman. That is the integrity challenge robbing the police of the deference they require to perform to the satisfaction of their publics across the country.

We would say it for the umpteenth time that when politicians interfere in the affairs of the police, particularly dabbling in their recruitment and administrative issues alongside politically profiling personnel, the outcome is the smelly selective enforcement of the law we are suffering today in the country.

While it is also the reason for the dangerous impunity being put up by citizens predisposed to the ruling party, it would continue to hang around the neck of the police like an albatross until the sanity all well-meaning Ghanaians are longing for is restored in the Service and other state institutions.

What do you expect when government directs that certain top persons within the hierarchy of the law enforcement system stay put even when their retirement is due. Those who benefit from this inappropriate political benevolence of the government would invariably do as their benefactors demand, including not arresting party foot soldiers even when they destroy state properties as they did at the Electoral Commission (EC) office in Suhum, Eastern Region, recently.

There has been no arrest – a prediction Ghanaians got right soon after the incident. They made similar predictions about the police not responding when even worse remarks were made by pro-ruling party elements.

Stephen Atubigah of the NDC said had a certain object hurled at President John Mahama in Ejisu hit him, there would have been bloodshed in the country. That appeared to have been lost to the police because neither a statement originated from their end nor an invitation extended to the loose talker.

When an NDC communicator spoke about cutlasses to be used against the NPP supporters, we thought as did many, for the first time that the police would move into action, given the seriousness of the remark. We were wrong. Nothing happened and the man enjoyed the protection provided by the large umbrella of the NDC. Indeed, it is this umbrella under which all manner of defaulters of the law hide not to be reached by the law enforcers.

We would have loved to spare the police the uncharitable observations we occasionally come up with because it is an institution which should not be put on the spot. Its failure to enforce the law without fear or favour as it is done in politically civilized cultures is, however, too serious to be spared harsh words.

One of the developments we are longing for is a situation where the police can discharge their duties without undue interference from a ruling party. Someday we shall overcome this anomaly and join the comity of the decent and civilized.