THE IMPUNITY OF INCESSANT PUBLIC ATTACKS ON SECURITY OFFICERS IN GHANA: A SERIOUS CAUSE TO WORRY
By Benjamin Bekai (A Defence and Security Analyst)
The consistent efforts toward the democratization and relative peace of the Ghanaian society have been quite impressive in recent past, especially within the fourth republic of smooth and unimpeded political transitions. There is no doubt that there has been remarkable improvement and determined efforts in promoting fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the 1992 constitution.
The sustenance of this momentous achievement however, depends much on how law enforcement officers discharge their duties effectively with the needed public support.
It is time to understand and appreciate the fact that, security is a shared responsibility and requires collective efforts. Therefore, public support and respect of law enforcers, especially within the security services, such as the military, Police, Prisons, Customs, Immigration, Fire Service, BNI and other related institutions are very paramount and critical. The exceptional role they play in making sure that this country is safe and well secured from criminals, among others, cannot be overemphasized.
In recent times however, the trend of unwarranted and sporadic attacks on these men and women in uniform, is escalating in a very exponential proportions. The recent attacks on law enforcers are gradually creeping into our Ghanaian polity, in a very unswerving manner and this has the potential to derail the efforts towards law enforcement, if this remains unchecked.
Many Ghanaians have developed a hard taste of intolerance and aggressiveness towards the very people who have sworn to protect them. Whilst I do not wish to speculate the attribution of blames here, I believe that there are both remote and immediate causes to this problem. It is time to reflect on some of these unwarranted and sometimes unnecessary attacks. We must remind ourselves of the sorrows of families whose relatives in the services, have been attacked and, in some cases, lynched to death.
This disquieting trend has the tendency to affect the morale of dedicated personnel, who wish to sacrifice in protecting this country. It also suggests in an unequivocal manner that most Ghanaians are becoming more intolerant, unreceptive and increasingly antagonistic towards our law enforcement officers. There seems to be a continuous reduction in social cohesion in our society and Ghanaians do not come to the aid of officers being attacked. This is very hapless and ironic as the very people who are sacrificing to protect us are rather now considered as our enemies.
Whilst the causes of these unwarranted attacks may be wide and varied and may take different scopes and dimensions, the most crucial thing to do at this stage within this article, is to suggest ways to deal with the issue from the root.
Public Education and Responsibility
It appears that majority of the citizenry are refusing to accept and some are even ignorant that, they play key roles in maintaining law and order in our communities.
The citizenry should be made to appreciate the fact that they are legally bound to extend the necessary support and courtesy to law enforcers. There is the need for the National Centre for Civil Education (NCCE), to intensify a serious education in this regard, in order to change the hostile attitude of some of the public and see law enforcers as partners in development and not as threats.
There is a need also, to ensure massive institutional reforms in all law enforcement agencies in the country in order to curb this situation.
Reforms must aim at the reintroduction and reinjection of an appreciable level of confidence in law enforcement officers.
Institutions must be empowered and well-resourced to deliver on their mandates without fear or favour.
Law enforcers should be well trained on their roles and mandates, whilst structures are put in place to check excesses in delivering law enforcement mandates.
The system must not permit abuse of mandates by law enforcers and there must be clear reporting lines in registering complaints and seeking redress by aggrieved members of the public.
The media, as a fourth realm of estate, has a major role to play in this regard. Although, the media plays a very significant role in public education and information on security matters, they must see their roles as more collaborative than antagonistic. Media personalities who may have issues with law enforcers must not resort to public incitement against the institutions, but should take advantage of established channels to seek redress.
The media must employ tact in communicating and discussing security matters.
Building stronger institutions in law enforcement requires that we demand for professionalism from our officers and men in a more courteous and reasonable manner.
Incessant attacks on them as alternatives to register our displeasures have no benefit in any lawful society.
It is my candid opinion and hope that this situation be taken seriously in order to prevent the grim face of lawlessness and indiscipline from starring at our faces. We need to collaborate in order to safeguard our young democracy.
I wish to call the attention of all well-meaning Ghanaians, to do our best in collaborating and respecting our gallant men and women in uniform, to deliver.
It is worth acknowledging that, although, the unprofessional conducts of some security officers have often times, been called into question, many others have equally exhibited exceptional attitude and skills, even under extremely poor conditions and resourcing, so the least we can do is to support them to protect us.