The Member of Parliament for Wa West in the Upper West Region, Supt. Rtd. Peter Lanchene Toobu has poured scorn on threats by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mr James Oppong-Boanuh, to withdraw policemen from escorting money carting vehicles, should the Association of Bankers fail to provide fortified armoured vehicles for the purpose by the close of June 2021.
According to him, an acceptable statement by the IGP following the killing in Accra of a police escort on Monday by armed robbers should have been the immediate withdrawal of policemen from providing the escort duties since the Bank of Ghana, whose responsibility it is to see to the provision of bullion vans that better protect occupants, has reneged on its duties.
“But the IGP saying that they should still be using these makeshift vehicles that we now call bullion vans by the end of June is a statement that he cannot stand for, it’s a statement that will expose him because December 2021 will come and this issue will still be pending, they will not have enough bullion vans to operate at all these places, so it is not a statement to make at all. Well, don’t take that statement serious”, thundered the Member of Parliament’s Committee on Defence and the Interior.
In a no holds barred outpour with Bernard Avle on Citi FM’s Breakfast show a day after armed robbers ambushed a pick-up vehicle conveying cash at James Town and shot and killed Lance Corporal Emmanuel Osei of the National SWAT Unit who was escorting the vehicle while a trader was also hit and killed by bullets from the robbers who were said to have been shooting indiscriminately, the MP said the security situation is worrying.
Following the incident, the Police Service issued a statement in which the IGP reminded the Association of Bankers of an earlier agreement to provide fortified bullion vans for carting money and threatened that should they fail to honour the agreement by the close of June 2021, the Police would withdraw the escort service.
However, Supt. Rtd. Toobu said such knee-jerk approaches are unhelpful as they result in the needless deaths of policemen and demoralises officers. He expressed condolences to the bereaved families and said this is one death too many and we appear not to be taking the requisite actions.
“…The truth of the matter, from my experience, what is happening to this country has to do with the fact that we have a lot of square pegs with favourable political colours in round holes, let me repeat that, …. And if you do this in the area of security, listen, the outcome will just expose you. That is why we are all suffering from this kind of violence that we see because the police have lost grips. We can issue all the statements and look flowery and look like you are in charge, well if you are in charge we are happy to hear that, but by tomorrow another thing happens and what do you come to say another statement? We are tired of statements.”
Asked if a recent decision by the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr Henry Quartey to strictly enforce regulations on the use of motorbikes be given the needed attention to help combat crimes, Supt. Rtd. Toobu said security matters should be left in the hands of professionals to handle.
He said while it is not wrong for a politician to speak to the issues, it is better for a policeman on the regional security council to speak as he can better answer questions of strategy.
“…The Regional Minister made a political statement, but the police would even add more colour. Look at what happened in February 2018, that the Vice President after we lost one of our officers in Dome-Kwabenya, Atomic Police Station, shot and killed then Chief Inspector Emmanuel Ashilevi, the Vice President made an emphatic statement. My brother is the chairman of the Police Council, the vice-chairman of the national security council, he says that this was uncalled for and it must stop and immediately government was going to install CCTV cameras in all police stations, I am talking about February 2018 up to date, go check the next police station around you to see whether they have CCTV cameras, and this is the second gentleman of the land. So if you take police for granted like this, this is how we are going to be dying recklessly and it will demoralise the police officers and gradually we will wake up one day see that the moment you go to the office and you’re close from work, you remove your uniform, put it in a polythene bag and find a T-shirt to wear and go home because it will be embarrassing to be in the uniform. Let’s pray not to get there.”
In the meantime, he said he and his colleagues in the Defence and the Interior committee would need to play their oversight role more effectively to ensure peace and security in the country.