I’ve often had suspicions about the ‘by-heart’ way the police sometimes does its work. Imagine officers raiding a place like Avenor and arresting about 300 people, claiming that they are all criminals. These may include include passers-by, hustling shoeshine boys, anyone with a screwdriver in his hand, pan latrine carriers, the homeless, the sick, the ugly and the insane. And, of course, there are the real suspects.
The police do not have any statistics (of course, there is no need for them to keep records) but I will bet my last cedi that the totally-innocent would outnumber the real suspects by a ratio of about 1 to 10. None of those who have been arrested without cause has taken on the police and so they keep doing it. Today, they go and arrest people in a swoop in Tip-Toe Lane. Tomorrow, you’d hear they’ve done the same in Nima or Ashaiman. And because no one complains, they feel it’s alright.
It was with this same laissez-faire, brutish sort of policing without intelligence that police officers raided the warehouses of Kinapharma in search of suspected narcotic substances. When I heard the news that police had seized some “suspicious substances” at the company’s warehouse, I wasn’t exactly surprised. I was like “there we go again”. This is Ghana. People have been stashing cocaine in tubers of yam so it is entirely possible to try and conceal narcotics in a pharmaceutical warehouse.
What I didn’t get was what the ‘Daily Graphic’ reported the day after the raid. The paper reported that the substances had tested “partially” positive for cocaine. What does it mean for a substance to be “partially” cocaine? I didn’t get it. From the elementary chemistry I know, the substance is either present or absent. It can’t be partially present or partially absent.
That was when I felt that there was something wrong. That report in the ‘Daily Graphic’ clearly pointed to sloppy policing. It’s hard to fathom why anyone will seek to publicise this on the front pages of a major national daily. I suspect an officer seeking to be promoted earlier than he deserves was behind leakage of the information to the newspaper – information which turned out to be completely wrong. There was no cocaine.
Now, Kinapharma feels hurt. Very hurt. The impression has been created in the public mind that the company is a front for a narcotic dealership. In a country where all manner of persons – very big and too small – have been involved in the illicit drugs trade, it is not good for your name to be mentioned in the same breath as cocaine.
That’s why Kinapharma wants the police to clear up the mess they have created. The company is demanding an apology. The police insist that they acted on “reasonable suspicion” and so they won’t render an apology. They also deny knowledge of the report in the ‘Daily Graphic’, which first linked Kinapharma to cocaine. Clearly, the police are lying. Someone in the CID leaked the information to the newspaper.
On two fronts, the police erred. First, they went into the warehouse with nothing and they got nothing. They claim they went in there with “reasonable suspicion”. Now, we know there was absolutely nothing reasonable about their suspicions. Secondly, they leaked information (from a police source) has severely dented the image of Kinapharma. The company, therefore, has every right to demand an apology.
The police are playing hardball because an apology will make them look stupid. It would make it clear that they didn’t know what they were about. By apologising, the CID will be exposing one of its major deficiencies – the lack of intelligence and its penchant to act on hearsay, with little or no investigation.
This is one of the reasons why there are so many remand prisoners in this country. Police officers just arrest people with little or no evidence of their involvement in criminal activity and dump them in the prisons. That’s why there is good cause for scepticism when police claim to have shot and killed an armed robber. If they had the opportunity, some of the dead men will tell IGP and his men that they are innocent. But they are dead and they can’t speak for themselves.
An admission that something went wrong at Kinapharma will help us all come to the realisation that the police make (and have made) more mistakes than they care to admit. And the police top brass doesn’t want us to know.
But it will do the police and this nation a lot of good if the CID just conceded that they erred. They should tell us why what happened at Kinapharma happened. Their tough guy stance is not even helping the Mills administration. There are suggestions that what happened at Kinapharma was politically-motivated and it’s a sign of the anti-business stance of the NDC and its founder. The government will be happy to hear the police administration say a few words of appeasement to Kinapharma and its managers. So the IGP and his men should stop the grandstanding and apologise – not just to Kinapharma but to all those innocents who have been caught up in their net of haphazard swoops. We don’t need a ‘macho’, self-glorifying, police service that cloaks its incompetence in “reasonable suspicion.”