A Security Expert, Dr Kwesi Aning says the restrictions on security services’ use of force require re-evaluation.
Although he is not advocating the use of brutal force, he believes that some knots need to be untied in order to allow officers to exert some form of power in dealing with certain issues, especially in instances of mob justice.
Dr Aning who was speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show said “We need to understand that the act of criminality performed by groups of individuals who think their livelihoods are being undermined, threatened and challenged by the state, are also demonstrating that they are prepared to fight back.
“In all these cases, if you aggregate the rhetoric and the responses coming from the uniformed services side, there seems to be a certain reticence in using force because they are walking a very thin line and I think we need to understand and probably look at the rules of engagement as to how they should respond,” he added.
His comment comes a day after a military officer was lynched in the Central regional town of Denkyira-Obuasi.
Captain Maxwell Mahama of the 5 Battalion of Infantry met his untimely death when he went on his early morning jog on Monday.
He was allegedly stoned and burnt by the youth of the area who mistook him for an armed robber.
Appalled by the development, Dr Aning, who is also the Director of Academic Affairs at the Kofi Anan International Peace Keeping Training Centre said this should not be allowed to continue.
He stressed the need for something to be done to end the culture where people take the law into their own hands and mete instant justice to others they feel offended by.
He is worried that this, if not checked, will create a society where people disregard laws and challenge the authority of the state, adding that “a certain culture of impunity is creeping into our national life,”
Citing an incident in Donkorkrom where residents after accusing the police of conniving with armed robbers to terrorise them, stormed a police station and set it on fire and many others in the past, he said if people were punished for these offences, others who intended to embark on similar acts, would have been deterred.
Police vehicle set on fire by angry residents of Somanya
Otherwise, an impression is being created that people can flout the law and they will not be punished, and it has manifested in many forms, Dr Aning lamented.
“There is a long-term developing culture in which people think they can flout the rules of Ghana and when those who have been authorised to protect the larger community come, they will fight them. That must be made to stop”, he stressed.
For Dr Aning, the fact that the individual who was lynched is a military officer reflects an escalation of the willingness of those who are armed and are either representing criminal gangs or think they are protecting their livelihoods, to go against the law.
Another issue which should not be swept under the carpet, Dr Aning believes, is the recent fight against galamsey.
He says the fight should not be against those perceived as the ‘boys and girls’ but rather a holistic approach should be adopted where any and everybody engaged in the criminal act is identified and duly punished.
“There seems to be a conspiracy to say let’s protect the people who are behind this organized criminality by dealing with the small boys and girls, seizing the equipment and then shutting off any investigation.
“Very few Ghanaian big shots have been mentioned. And you would also notice that any attempt to scratch the surface raises a hue and cry.”
In his view, the murder of the military officer reflects and escalation of the crisis, but even more disturbingly the willingness of the unseen hands and forces behind the mining criminality that ties into a bigger organized crime in West Africa.
Dr Aning hopes that the army will conduct its investigations looking at evidence, using intelligence to arrive at those who did this, those behind the actual perpetration of the crime.
“And then when we get those people who have instigated this crime, look at their bank accounts, their network, their telephone records and any other thing that might expand the investigations because we’ve got to nip this in the bud before a more organized challenge to the authority of the state is presented to us,” he stressed.