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STATESMAN OPINION: IT’S TIME FOR THE POLICE TO CURB PARTY POLITICAL EXCESSES

Politics

All over the world, the custodian of law and order is the state and its police service, as well as the state security agencies. These may include the military and paramilitary forces.

All over the world, the custodian of law and order is the state and its police service, as well as the state security agencies. These may include the military and paramilitary forces.

 

Their duty essentially is to ensure that life and property are secured and maintained; that businesses are protected; and that the poor and the rich, the lowly and the elite, religious and traditional leaders, as well as politicians and public officials, are equally protected, as are the nation’s strategic installations and facilities.

Unfortunately in our part of the world, the temptation is for politicians to take advantage of such institutions for their personal convenience and security.

Protect and serve

Unfortunately, too, we have seen ordinary people often attempting to take the law into their own hands simply because they perceive the police to be neither prompt nor proactive enough in policing the public. That includes members of the established parties vying lawfully for political space.

Out of frustration, such groups are equally tempted to arrange their own security when the police dither for some political reason. We have seen too much of this culture in Ghana since independence, right up until the last Republic. And we must all concede that it has helped nobody – not the police, not the politicians in opposition, and certainly not the executive or its image.

Particularly in the run-up to Election 2016, the tension in Ghanaian political life, probably heightened by the police inability to show a tolerable level of independence, compelled both of the main parties to protect themselves. It was this which resulted in the excesses we all regret today.

The tension having abated, we see no reason why these private, sectional militias should not fold or be forced to do so, if they are becoming unmanageable.

Abusing freedom

Law enforcement is ultimately the responsibility of the executive, which exercises such powers through the Police Service administrative machinery. Unfortunately for the police, however, the service is also hampered by typical African perceptions of the boundaries of authority and the political consequences.

It is a mark of true professionalism, however, that the police administration exerts its influence in engaging the state to apply the force of law and order in situations such as we often have during elections or communal eruptions.

Ghana, as we all know, has a strong and independent-minded judiciary, from which the Police Service can take a cue. After all, what is the essence of the law if it cannot be tested by the police in court through argument, such as we have in the political domain between governing and leading opposition parties?

The Daily Statesman believes the Police Service must intervene before Ghana descends into a state of perennial anarchy during and after elections. Democracy, after all, is not only about freedoms, but also law and order.

No one in the civilised world today ‒ not even the executive ‒ should be made to feel above the law.