Big Shake-Up Expected In Police Service
Unconfirmed reports reaching The Statesman indicate that the government is set on what may turn out to be the biggest ever shake up at the upper echelon of the Ghana Police Service under a sitting constitutional government.
Top on the list of those most likely to lose their jobs is the Inspector General of Police, Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong. The decision to get the IGP to resign, according to our sources was caused more by, as one newspaper put it, “the level of intimacy that exists between Abass currently standing trial over drug related charges and the Inspector General of Police.”
Yet, sources very close to the appointing authority, the Presidency, are convinced there is no evidence to suggest that the IGP is in the least involved in criminal activities. Even his friendship with one of the accused appears to be exaggerated, with stories that he stayed at the accused person’s house while studying in the United Kingdom around 1989-1990 as being grossly false. But, K K Manfo, one of two deputies to the IGP, is not likely to be given the push upstairs. That position is likely to go to a much younger, respected and trusted top officer.
The IGP’s behind closed-doors appearance before the Georgina Wood Committee was the culmination of weeks-long dance over whether and how top members of the security set up would appear before the panel. The National Security Minister opted to appear before the full view and hearing of the media yesterday. The Statesman can reveal that Mr Acheampong, like the National Security Minister, told the committee he had no prior knowledge of Mr Boakye’s meeting with the drug suspects.
“He disowned Kofi Boakye,” was how one source put it. But, both Messrs Poku and Acheampong were informed of the meeting by Mr Boakye some time after it took place.
Under in camera cross-examination by ACP Boakye’s strong team of lawyers yesterday, it became clear and Mr Boakye admitted that he did not disclose that tape-recorded meeting to the IGP for about month, when he called the IGP from Germany on June 20, 2006, where he was detailed as security chief for the Ghanaian delegation to the World Cup.
Also, he did not go to an earlier committee, investing 5 kilogrammes of stolen cocaine from custody, when he was advised by the National Security Minister to do so. The heat appears to be on Mr Boakye, but calls for the IGP to take the fall too remain high in places both high and low.
Any move to ask the IGP to proceed on leave is likely to be very controversial since there is a very powerful opinion that Mr Boakye was merely exploiting the intense mutual dislike the two men have for each other to shift culpability the IGP’s way.
Sources close to Mr Boakye say the IGP had told him back in June that the secret recording was done by one of the men eventually charged with the importation of 78 parcels of illicit drugs, Kwabena “Tagor” Amaning.
However, Kofi Boakye is of the view that whoever ordered the recording of the conversation had some incriminating interest to protect – knowledge of the purported missing drug consignment. Fingers are pointing towards one of the suspects, Issa Abbas and Ben Ndego of the Narcotics Control Board. The latter had a copy of the tape as far back as May or early June, according to evidence before the committee. He has also given contradictory evidence before the committee on the matter.
Some people are reading into the IGP’s long-standing friendship with Alhaji Abbas to imply that the police chief was well placed to have insider knowledge, which he could have used to assist the investigation in the early days, the theory goes.
But this is mere speculation, at least for now, making the case to push the IGP out appear very contentious at the moment, even though it is gaining ground. Moreover, there is a sharp division over the decision to interdict ACP Boakye, too. One school of thought is that there is some evidence on the secretly taped conversation at the house of ACP Boakye that he had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the alleged missing cocaine and had called the meeting with the four men - Tagor, Kwabena Acheampong, Issa Abbas, and Moro Mohammed – to stress his innocence and discover who may have been responsible for the alleged missing drugs.
The other school of thought, while admitting that there is no direct evidence on the tape to show that ACP Boakye knew anything about the purported 77 parcels containing 2,310kg of cocaine, there is enough incriminating evidence on the tape to suggest that he indeed had a long standing collaboration with the underworld for personal gain.
A third school of thought is that the young and, until recently publicly admired crimebuster has served the nation so well to “be sacrificed” especially when there seems to be no evidence linking him to the specific case under investigation.
Dr Marfo, who is seen as having a clean hand in the scandal, is seen within some quarters as doing his bit to undermine the IGP. He is not exactly trusted by the political establishment and is also seen as lacking the requisite political clout and influence within the force itself to become its ultimate leader. He is due for retirement in 2007, sources say, and is likely to be eased out next year. He is a very unlikely choice to replace Mr Acheampong if the IGP is removed.
The other deputy, Elizabeth Mill-Robetson, is also not in the reckoning at all. Sources close to her even think she has given up the chase and has no interest in the top job for herself.
The reason that is likely to be officially given for the IGP’s resignation, if it happens, is one to come under the doctrine of agency responsibility – as he is head of the police force. Hanging over the IGP’s head have been the questions of how much responsibility the head of the police should take for what seems to be a massive loss of public and institutional confidence in the top hierarchy of the police; how much the IGP knew or ought to have known about the alleged criminal activities of his long-time associate, Alhaji Abass; who, if any, at the top of security service may have been implicated in the alleged loss of more than 2,000 kilogrammes of a substance suspected to be cocaine? Under cross-eaxamination yesterday, the IGP insisted he told ACP Boakye he was not interested in the cocaine matter, advising his subordinate to pass on his information to the appropriate quarters, the Narcotics Control Board and subsequently the team set to probe 5kg that were stolen from the one remaining parcel of 30kg that was taken into custody when officers eventually raided MV Benjamin.