In recent years, the security situation in Accra and indeed the nation at large seems to have experienced an upsurge in unrest with regard to crime, particularly armed robbery, contract killing and vigilantism. Day light “Rambo-style” robbery and gross violation of existing laws is gaining notoriety with heightened impunity.
Some Ghanaians have expressed worry over the current disturbances in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi and the general level of insecurity in the country. A fortnight ago, it was reported in the media that some angry Zongo youth pelted stones and chased the Inspector General of Police, David Asante- Apeatu, and the Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP Kwesi Mensah Duku, away when they visited the Kumasi Central Mosque to meet leaders of the Zongo community over the killing of seven members of the Asawase community at Poano by some police officers.
These kinds of attacks are no more news in our beautiful country, Ghana . Mention can be made of hostile takeover of tollbooths amidst chasing away of officially designated persons; assault on a police officer at the seat of government, locking up of the offices of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the Northern and Western Regions as well as school feeding programme’s secretariats and MMDCE offices are few of many such incidents. The nation’s deteriorating security situation and the inability of the law enforcement agencies to deal with these ever-increasing crime waves continue to be a major source of concern for citizens, businesses and the law enforcement agencies themselves.
One other worry to this whole security conundrum is the continuous surge in armed robbery along with the audacious show and use of dangerous ammunitions by unruly characters. The situation has been attributed to the proliferation of small arms and the unregulated use of guns in the country. Indeed, a security analyst and Director at the Faculty of Research and Academic Affairs at the Kofi Anann International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Dr Kwesi Aning, estimates that there are about 2.4 million unregistered guns in the hands of civilians in the country. This gives credence to frantic efforts by the Small Arms Commission and the Ministry of Interior’s attempts to sanitize the system by introducing amnesty periods for registration of small arms.
However, the result of this sadly cannot be measured due to apathy on the part of civilians for fear of victimization from the law enforcement agencies. Productive Ghanaians are losing their lives at the hands of devious individuals whose mission is to steal and to kill while at it. Other analysts have attributed the spate of armed robbery to the country’s poor criminal justice system which instead of helping to reform convicts rather ends up hardening them, as well as the ban on illegal and small-scale mining activities which though laudable, has deprived many of their livelihoods without any alternative source of income for their sustenance. Another major factor that is cited as responsible for the recent increase in armed robbery cases is the lack of employable opportunities for people who are willing to work. The huge unemployment rate in the country has been described as a time bomb which if not checked, will eventually explode when least expected.
Worthy of note is the fact that these security breaches are not limited to only one government or regime. The Government of Ghana recently announced that it is taking decisive steps to address the recent spate of armed robberies and other security breaches in the country.
The police have for instance increased night patrols and embarked on arresting unregistered motorbikes, which are mostly used in committing some of these crimes. The law enforcement agencies have also among other measures, dispatched a number of plain-clothe detectives into communities to help detect some of these crimes. However, one may be tempted to ask, and justifiably so, if these measures are producing the desired results.
A Security Analyst and Chairman of the Civil Forum Initiative, Major General Nii Carl Coleman (retd), as a measure has advised the security agencies to be responsive to the needs of the times by deploying the right calibre of persons capable of feeding such agencies with the right intelligence needed to combat crime and ensure security. He added that citizens must also perform their civic duties and help the police to fight crime by providing them with the right information that will lead to the arrest of criminals within their localities. Major General Coleman further bemoaned the lack of proper checks at the country’s borders and therefore urged the security agencies to carefully and strictly monitor the number and type of persons who enter into the country daily.
Aside the above measures enumerated by Major General Coleman, a plethora of other actions must be taken in order to salvage the nation’s deteriorating security situation. These include the following. One, the state must put in place well-planned policies that will provide a source of livelihood to the teeming unemployed youth. For it is said that “The idle hands is the devil’s workshop”. Second, there is the need for the security agencies to be adequately retooled with modern gadgets and technological devices that can help them to combat crime head-on. Finally, a careful review of the country’s penal and justice system must be carried out to improve upon the appalling conditions in our prisons. This will aid in the reformation of the convicts as well as the eventual reintegration of ex-convicts into their respective societies.
It is imperative that national security, in all forms, is ensured at all costs and at all times. The total, unimpeded security of every citizen is both a human and a constitutional right, enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, under Articles 12 clause 2 and 35 clause 2 respectively. Hence, it is the ultimate responsibility of every government (thus, the current not an exception) to ensure that this provision is realized to enable citizens lead their lives without any fear. Accordingly, the government and all security agencies involved must consider the rising state of insecurity in the country as an enormous National Security threat, which must be clamped down before it throws our homeland Ghana into jeopardy.
Article: Shelley ACKAH