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Are We Safe?
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Unless we have a well-educated people, we’re vulnerable on our national security.”
Mark Hatfield

AH! OHOO! And I. K. Gyasi, my brother, will say, “HABA!” So, people are doing politics with the eviction of the hustlers, layabouts and squatters around the President’s private residence at Nima?

So, the President should move to the Flagstaff / Jubilee House and leave the fitters, artisans, kelewele sellers, koko dispensers and waakye dishers – because these people voted for Akufo Addo to be President? So that the President can shake hands with them on his way to his office, after ‘visiting’ home?

Do we enjoy seeing all these ramshackle structures, and what do we call and classify our nation? We enjoy claiming all kinds of accolades and appellations for our nation, and yet do not give our cities and towns the attributes that go with 21st century city life. Oh, Kigali (Rwanda), Jo’berg (South Africa), Windhoek (Namibia), Nairobi (Kenya), Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania).

So, we should give all persons a chance to come and live in the capital cities; Accra, Kumasi, Ho, Tamale, Cape Coast, et cetera, and abandon the villages. Some of the Nima evictees were crying out: they had lived in the kiosks for more than twenty years, and their meagre earnings are what provide the wherewithal for them and their children. So, they are no more villagers, and have nowhere to go? And we learn the area is owned by a private businessman.

Perhaps given the genteel nature of the President, he himself might not even have called for the eviction, but he must listen to the security experts. Is the move “mean and exploitative” as opined by the Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey? Is it true that “the amounts paid to them will impoverish them and cause distress and suffering to their families for many years?” While George Loh, ex NDC MP for North Dayi Constituency has criticised the government for the evacuation, Veronica Awuah who claims the area belongs to her family says her family has no qualms about the ‘relocation’ of the traders; she would like to be fully briefed on the deal, including compensation of GH¢ 3,000 – GH¢ 10,000) and the contracts signed.

Kwesi Pratt insists that “we have to move him (President) there (Flagstaff/Jubilee House) rather than inconvenience the whole population around him.” The point is simple: the President’s official residence and private home should be provided with adequate security, especially given the present security trends in the country.

In a melancholic note to Professor Ken Attafuah’s brilliant work “Fighting Armed Robbery in Ghana”, Sam Okudzeto, Chairman of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Advisory Council, writes: “I and my family have been victims of armed robbery. I know the trauma, the helplessness and the anger it generates. It raises such questions as the following: Why will a human being do this to another human being who has not hurt them or taken their property? Where are the law enforcement agencies? If the Police were effectively doing their work, would this have happened? There are many questions and there may be many answers to the issues posed by criminal acts and more so by armed robbery…”

On December 1, 2005, Daily Graphic reported: “Gun-wielding robbers have attacked residents of Nsawam, inflicted wounds on a circuit court judge, Mr. Kwadwo Owusu, and his watchman and raped his niece…” Such has been the trend and there have been reports of armed criminals blocking roads and subjecting victims to indecent attacks and robbing them.

Professor Attafuah recalls being awakened at 12:45am when his niece received a call from someone who claimed that her parents were being robbed in their Nungua home. He stresses: “… None of the official police telephone numbers went through. Our personal police contacts could not be reached because they were allegedly “out of coverage area.” In the end, we were forced to rush to the Cantonments Police Station, from where we were directed to the Police Headquarters instead. There too, we were directed to the Information Room of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) next door. We woke up snoring officers post at every point…” A show of professionalism?

Cesare Beccaria the Italian Philosopher, writing on ‘free will’ in the late 1770s noted that human behaviour was ‘purposive’ and based on ‘hedonism’, that is, the pleasure principle – human beings choose actions that give them pleasure and avoid those that give them pain. So, what should be the goals of justice? Jeremy Bentham thinks “the punishment must fit the crime.” Professor Attafuah proposes several factors that are considered in dishing out convictions in our courts. These include perceptions of what constitutes dangerous crime; level of fear of crime, especially violent crimes; media and popular images of the rate of crime and trends in the ‘crime wave’; religious and cultural values and prescription relating to crime and deviance; level of socio-economic well-being; and political fortunes and circumstances of the ruling elite.

As a criminologist / sociologist myself, I wholly endorse Professor Attafuah’s findings. But I find it extremely difficult to grasp the political twist people give to the present incidence of crime; under whose regime did crime rate go up – NDC or NPP? Whose time did we experience more gruesome criminal attacks – Mahama or Akufo Addo? To me (some will insist: ‘For me’), crime is crime; crime does not have political colours.

We are in a global world: the youth watch films on the internet and imitate scenes from Kenya to the USA, from South Africa to Italy and from Nigeria to Colombia.

We in Ghana cannot cocoon ourselves from the goings – on in Nigeria with Boko-Haram headquartered in Maiduguri which is preferred to the official name of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal – Jihad (People of the Sunnah for the Prophet’s Teaching and Jihad Group), to them, it is ‘haram’ (forbidden) to have ‘western boko’ (western education). Nor can we be encapsulated from the influence of Al Qaeda, the militant Sunni Islamist multi-national organisation founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden to fight the Soviets in the Afghan war and Al Shabaab based in East Africa, with links to Al Qaeda.

The effect of the daylight Royal Motors robbery in Accra and the murder of the Lebanese accountant in Tema cannot be lost on anyone. Nor can the jail-break of the Kwabenya Police Post. The Police have been professional in honing in on the miscreants, and kudos to all of the members of the Police Service. What do we say about the atrocities of the residents of Ahwaa in Kumasi – beheading a man, a human being? You may have said: ‘Incredible’ (Incroyable) but it has happened in Ghana. It may be fashionable to have one’s beard trimmed and given shape; we used to have a clean shave, and we were taught traditionally – and also in school. The trend is changing. Is it for nothing? What do the youth take? Cyber-crime is on the rise. Professor Attafuah thinks “Safety, security and order are the outcomes of well-considered policies and measures that enlist the support of the public in crime prevention and control… We must equip the police with the necessary tools, skills and perspectives for the effective performance of their job, increase police recruitment and improve their training, improve police working conditions and reduce graft among the Police… Need one say more?

Source: Africanus Owusu Ansah/ [email protected]

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