Opinions Mon, 5 Jun 2017

Mob justice and national introspection

By Nana Yaw Osei

Disdain for ambivalence and cogitation will certainly be out of order when discussing instances of mob justice in Ghana. Needless to say, we cannot arrest the canker of mob justice by a one-sided mob decision. The media must be circumspect not to lead the country into a ditch.

I am not insinuating that journalist must always maintain a stance of Olympian detachment on their reportage because the media work can hardly be bereft of human values. I am calling for a balance reportage relative to mob justice.

Per 2011, Arab Spring and other happenings, we are privy to information about the power of Masses. Ghanaians must assess pros and cons of mob justice. We can encourage mob arrest for the police and discourage mob killing. Ghana needs media debate not media dictatorship.

The National Commission for Civic Education must begin a campaign against police stereotype. General public misconception about the police must be eradicated. Per United Nation standard of policing in 2014, member countries were entreated to have one police personnel to 500 people.

In 2011, Ghana police-citizen ratio stood at one officer to 976 people. The country witnessed improvement in 2012 with one policeman to 847 people. Poor road networks and planning, erratic power supply and inadequate communication gadgets are among challenges confronting the police.

The imperative need of sensitizing the public on police challenges must be maximally active. I think learning from Republic of South Africa’s Metro/Community police system will not be a bad idea. We must also be careful not to expose the weakness of the police to criminals and would-be criminals. Nevertheless, we must find out how and who buys AK-47 rifles for armed robbers.

Inasmuch as it is painful to lose such a promising young army officer, mob arrest to complement the work of police is not bad in its entirety. Was is true that Diaso or Dunkwa-Obuasi inhabitants had been victimized by armed robbers or not? Who created illegal mining problems which warranted military intervention? Citizens must be educated on their limits when arresting suspected criminals. There are certain areas criminals do not go because they are afraid of consequences.

What is evil is mob killing and instance justice. In the conventional justice system, an accused person is given an opportunity to explain himself/herself known in legal parlance as a fair hearing.

There is no fair hearing in instance justice. Mob killing is very common in Africa, depicting lack of faith in the police and the judicial systems. It is barbaric to subject someone into mob killing.

It is equally barbaric for someone to kill, rape and steal at gunpoint. Let us say a big no to instance justice, even so we can benefit from mob arrest for police with specified limitations.

Let us not be one-sided because of the repugnant nature of Captain Mahama’s death. I think we expect lots from the police and the army while we do less to minimize crime. Once again my heartfelt condolence goes to the bereaved family and Ghana Armed Forces.

Columnist: Nana Yaw Osei