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National Security; Friend or Foe



At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security”

-Jodi Rell-

Driving on the streets of Accra with a good friend from Nigeria, we chanced upon an incident of a poor taxi driver who was manhandled and severely abused by a Police Officer for wrong parking and failing to “sort” him out like he had requested.. We had to quickly pull over and go to his rescue. After we “sorted” out the Police officer like he requested and insisted with some Ghana cedi notes, he allowed the man go. Are Police officers supposed to arrest or they are supposed to issue out punishments, fines etc. and allow culprits go away? Your guess is as good as mine. This isn’t the first incident of abuse by officers tasked to protect citizens on these same citizens. So I ask, are they friends or they are enemies in Uniform?

National security, as ambiguous as it is, can generally be referred to as the security of the nation or state including its citizens, economy, and institutions and it is regarded as a duty of the government of the day. Its meaning was originally skewed towards the protection against military attack and maintenance of law and order within a country, but now it’s been opened up to entail non – military dimensions like economic, energy, environmental and food, etc. To enforce security, government rely on a range of measures, including political, economic and military power as well as diplomacy.

National security is not important only to the government but to the nation as a whole. The security level of a country, one way or the other, determines the progress of the country.  Countries that are war torn and are wallowing in social vices are all as a result of irregularities in the security system. Citizens in these countries are almost always anxious, agitated, highly insecure and unable to commit themselves to the wellbeing of the country. It is therefore imperative on the government to strengthen the security systems and necessary for citizens to collaborate with these agencies to ensure the highest level of security.

“Home is where children find safety and security, where we find our identities, where citizenship starts. It usually starts with believing you are part of a community and that is essential to having a stable home”

-Mathew Desmond-

Moving on, it can be observed in Ghana that there is always a rift between citizens and security officers, in the process of maintaining law and order which mostly leads to one or both parties crossing their boundaries. What at all is wrong? Is it that the duties of both parties are not known or being misinterpreted? To what extent can security officers exercise their power? To what extent can the citizen exercise his rights and freedoms? Where do we draw the line? If not for anything, the constitution has stipulated the duties of a security officer and that of the citizen and I believe that must be followed to the latter without any compromise. Article 15 clause 1 of the 1992 constitution of the republic of Ghana provides that “The dignity of all persons shall be inviolable”. Also, clause 2 of the same article stipulates that “No person shall, whether or not he is arrested, restricted or retained, be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or any condition that detracts or likely to detract from his dignity or worth as a human being”. This is a very important provision that should not be undermined. One important factor worth considering is that both parties are working to help each other and thus one must not abuse more power over the other to the extent that one’s freedom would be trampled upon.

Citizens must respect and appreciate security officers because they risk their lives to protect lives and properties. They give out their blood, sweat and tears to make sure you and I feel safe and protected. Being a security personnel is one of the most selfless work one can ever do and thus the kind of respect due them must be accorded. Citizens must come to the realization that the security officers exist for their own good and the sooner they respect and appreciate their efforts the better it is for the country. Who knows what would have happened to Ghana in their absence? The country would have probably been war torn or wallowing in social vices. Although there is a long way to go, we must still be appreciative and supportive in order to get to where we want to be.

As such, security officers must also acknowledge the fact that, the reason for their existence and hard work is to protect the citizenry and not to control and abuse power over them. The work of a security officer is that of service and therefore, they must respect the rights and freedoms of the citizens. Nevertheless, they must be firm and fair in maintaining law and order, but that should not guarantee taking undue advantage of the citizens. Section 33 of the criminal and other offences act mandates people who are empowered by law to use force on other persons if necessary in a particular circumstance. Section 32 of the act also states that “the force used must be in reasonable limits”. One would not need a PhD in rocket science to realize that section 33 speaks of instances where the suspect resists arrest. There have been clear examples of law enforcing agencies like the Ghana Police used force in areas where it wasn’t necessary and also within reasonable limits. On Saturday the 25th of November 2017, students of the University hall of KNUST were wrongfully assaulted at the Baba Yara Sports stadium by officers of the Ghana Police for allegedly resisting arrest. Video footage from witnesses showed otherwise. The Ghana Police Service condemned acts of these officers and apologized but must we always be thinking of cure ahead of prevention? What if a student’s life was lost that day, would the apology be enough to make up for the loss? In all these, the government has the major duty of civic education to play in order to ensure the progress of the relationship between the two parties. Both parties must be fully aware of their duties, freedoms and boundaries. Measures should be put in place by agencies such as NCCE to educate the citizenry about their rights and freedoms. Security Officers should not be left out of such exercise. At the end of the day, the goal is simple; safety and security as said by Jodi Rell.

“It is common people’s duty to police the police”

-Steve Magee-

I believe the good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated in our common life. This is not a one man’s job so all hands must be on deck towards the progress of the security system in our country. The earlier the better, let’s make Ghana a wonderful place to live in.

My name is Raheem Awaafo, a citizen not spectator and I believe the masses matter. I don’t believe security officers are enemies, we just don’t understand each other. What about you??

Send in your comments to raheemwyse@gmail.com

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