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Opinions Thu, 23 Dec 2021

Do they know it’s Christmas at all? The case of security, law enforcement officers

On the night of 15th December 2021, just 10 days to Christmas, according to Joy News reporter, Albert Sore, two young Police Officers of the Zuarungu Police Department, Constables Emmanuel Akowuah and Adam Sulley, both in their mid-20s, reported for duty as they have done on countless times, to serve and protect their country, little did they know that that night would be their last night on earth.

These two young officers were gunned down by armed robbers, in the line of duty.

The execution-style killing of the two young officers is such horrific that, according to eyewitness accounts, both officers did not get the chance to draw their service rifles and fight back. The armed robbers then set their corpses alight together with their motorcycles.

Across the country, armed robbers and violent criminals are targeting and killing Law Enforcement Officers and other security personnel with assault rifles and guns.

Law Enforcement and other Security Officers are some of the poorly paid groups in Ghana and across sub-Saharan Africa. Their conditions of service are nothing to write home about. Many do not even know if it is Christmas at all this week.

This Christmas, thousands of Law Enforcement and other Security Officers would be on duty, to serve and protect the communities that they served.

On 22nd December 2021 at 0900 hours in Accra, this writer spoke to some officers (Prisons, Police, Fire Brigade, Immigration, and Ambulance Officers) who were on duty at various parts of the capital. One young female officer, 25 years old, with a year-old child (her husband is also a servicing officer, but work in a different police department in the capital, Accra – names withheld), told this writer that all that she was able to buy for her child (sex of the child withheld) was used clothes and a couple of used shoes. Despite being poorly paid and barely surviving to support her child, she had a smile on her face.

She and her husband, both on day duties on 22nd December 2021, through to 30th December 2021, have to leave their child with an adult relative to baby sit, while they go on duty, to serve and protect their compatriots, majority hardly acknowledge their sacrifice and dedication to the service of the country.

Another young Fire Fighter (27 years old) at a very major Fire Brigade Department in Accra, has been booked to work every day, including the busy Christmas period when fire accidents are very high, until the second week of January 2022.

An ambulance crew that this writer met at Korle Teaching Hospital, the nation’s premier and the busiest hospital in the country, are on 24-hour call from 10th December 2021 through to 5th January 2022. The average age of the Ambulance crew is 28 years. The story is the same at the various Prisons that this writer visited.

At Kotoka International Airport in Accra, this writer met 3 Immigration Officers who have just finished their night duty and were on their way home. Again, like their compatriots in other security services, their main motive of joining the Immigration service is to help protect their country and compatriots, well as to ensure the immigration laws of the country are strictly enforced.

None of the facilities that this writer went to or officers spoke with, ever complained, they all accept that, yes, they are aware of the risks and dangers that comes with the service, yet they all agreed that they signed up, primarily to serve their country, and make it better for their compatriots. The call of duty is paramount in their assertions.

On Christmas day, while the majority of the Ghanaian people attend churches and mosques, Officer Mary (not her real name) and her husband, Detective Officer Peter (not his real name) would be on duty, serving and protecting their communities and country.

One would argue that those who join the Security Services and Law Enforcement are aware of the risks before they signed to join. Of course, there are risks associated with every occupation, including running for office, yet it is incumbent of every citizen to support Law Enforcement Officers to arrest criminals by providing valuable information as well as keeping themselves safe.

On Christmas Day, the majority of the churches, mosques, civil societies, and non-governmental organizations would be distributing presents to hospitals, orphanages, prisons, etc, however, none would be given to the children of serving officers in the security services (Armed Forces, Police, Prisons, Fire Brigade, Immigration, and Ambulance service) who would be working throughout the Christmas holidays and beyond, servicing and protecting fellow citizens and country.

Like their two colleagues, late Emmanuel Akowuah and late Adam Sulley, who was killed in the line of duty, many of these men and women of the security services, when they step out of their homes do not know whether they will return to their families, yet their dedication to serving goes beyond self. Unlike some officer holders and politicians, these men and women are selfless. THE SECURITY SERVICES AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE OUR HEROES, yet do they know if it is Christmas at all.

Officer Mary stated that “Sir, every day before we leave our home to go on duty, my husband and I would pray together with our child. We prayed that should in case we do not return (killed in the line of duty), the Good Lord would protect our child from harm and would be looked after properly, where ever or whoever the child ends up with”.

The deaths of Constables Emmanuel Akowuah and Adam Sulley should never be in vain. Emmanuel and Adam left behind not only their families but colleagues they went to training school with, colleagues they served alongside from various security services, colleagues at their Police Department of Zuarungu, organizations they protected on guard duties, friends from social clubs, and the communities they have served. Officers Emmanuel and Adam, like their other colleagues, left home and never returned, they WERE KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY by armed robbers.

The year has not ended, yet, already Ghana Police Service has lost over 15 officers, who have died under various circumstances, including in the line of duty.

Senior Emergency Medical Ambulance Officer Abraham Tetteh was killed by armed robbers on 6th February 2021, in the line of duty, while conveying a pregnant woman to the hospital.

Earlier this year, Fire Officer Joseph Kwamena Baidoo, 35 years old, of Agona Swedru Fire Department, lost his life while saving 3 people. As a firefighter, Joseph was trained to put others before themselves. Joseph did whatever firefighter would, to rescue those in danger. In 2019, Ghana Fire Brigade lost the highest number of Fire Fighters, 61 in total, in the line of duty, across many fire departments.

This writer is directly calling on the service commanders, leaders, and senior officers to treat every death of law Enforcement and Security Service personnel as a FALLEN HERO and not classify them with the nature of death.

This writer who is a friend of every Law Enforcement Officer across the world would never stop highlighting the immense risks that officers face every day, but would also call on authorities and Law Enforcement and security services management to ensure officers are given the right equipment, clothing, training and better conditions of service to enable them better protect and serve the communities they are assigned to.
Columnist: Peter Jeffrey