General News of Wednesday, 21 November 2018
Former Deputy Minister of Interior, James Agalga, has faulted the scope of an investigative committee that looked into the controversial killing of seven persons at Manso-Nkwanta by police in July.
He said beyond tasking the committee to unravel the circumstances leading to the shooting incident, there was the need to also probe the involvement or otherwise of the Police Command in the Ashanti Region in the incident.
“If I were in office, the scope of authority or the terms of reference given to the investigative committee would have been much broader than it was. I think the scope was a bit limited,” he said on Tuesday evening on MultiTV’s current affairs programme PM Express.
The shooting incident on July 17, 2018, sparked a bitter standoff between residents of Manso-Nkwanta in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region and police.
Police had held that the seven were robbers that engaged their patrol team in a shootout, however, agitated youth in the predominantly Muslim community said they knew the seven to be decent members of the community.
Many believed police were reacting to a previous incident in which an officer was killed by unknown assailants.
The youth clashed with the police over the gory killings, blocking sections of the Asawasi-Akwatia road. They also burnt tyres to obstruct traffic flow in the area.
The government stepped in to restore calm, setting up the five-member investigative body to look into the matter.
The committee’s findings, parts of which were made public recently, stated that there were no facts to support the claim by the police that the men they shot and killed were armed robbers who engaged in an exchange of fire with the patrol team.
“The twenty-one (21) police personnel involved in the incident who have been found to be the principal suspects be interdicted by the Police administration and be subjected to formal police criminal investigation into the matter,” was one of the recommendations by the committee.
Commenting the findings that have rekindled discussions on police brutality and what many say is their unprofessional use of firearms, Mr Agalga, a ranking member on Parliament’s Committee on Defence and the Interior, said the committee could have probed further.
The Builsa North opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Legislator said there was the need to “broaden the scope [of the committee] so that all the issues about Command and what Command did in relation to the behaviour of the tactical men on the ground would have been taken into consideration.”
“But…it is not too late. The police administration itself should take interest in wanting to establish how Command reacted in the face of the shooting incident,” he urged.
Commenting on the same matter, security analyst, Adam Bona, said the numerous incidents of unprofessional use of firearms by police calls for a second look at the policy of providing guns to every personnel.
He has recommended the adoption of the UK system where only specialised police units are made to carry firearms.
He said that policy if adopted, will reduce incidents of trigger-happy officers who sometimes discharged their weapons when there is no need.