What happens after the police raided Lapaz New Market?

Sat, 6 Dec 2014 Source: Pacas, Idris

A team of armed police numbering over 30 raided Lapaz New Market, Accra, on the early hours of Thursday 04 December 2014. The police team came with at least 4 pick-up trucks (registration numbers GP 3012, GP 3571, GP 2745 and GP 3831) and two motorbikes (both without number plates). They arrested a dozen of young men ‘suspected’ to be wee, or marijuana /mariwaana/ smokers.

The scene in the market around 7 a.m. was that of fear, panic and anxiety because traders who had already assembled for business stood in rings watching the event. The raid was well co-ordinated and somehow perfectly executed. Congrats, Ghana Police Service.

But what is the essence is the raid? Obviously to rid the city of criminals during this festive season. As part of Christmas traditions in Ghana, police often conduct such raids to suspected criminal hideouts to flush out wrongdoers. But is that the reality? Hmm! One wonders how persons suspected to be wee smokers can operate safely in the heart of Accra. Even so, is this the first time the police have been there to arrest them? No! I have seen the police arrest, process, charge and release ‘the same persons’ severally.

Thus, the seasonal police raid and the subsequent release after receiving ‘their share’ have in their own right become institutionalized just as the festivities themselves. While still packaging any suspected young man at the scene into their vehicles, the fragrantly smiling police officers were busy making their usual phone calls.

Fortunately for the police and fortunately for the victims, all that assembled could guess the contents of the heavy smiles on the faces of the police. Some of the onlookers even said this: ‘They [police] will collect ‘theirs’ and release them (the suspects) to come and join us presently’. I strongly share in that opinion.

Evidently, the suspected wee dealers once complained why the police no longer take GH ¢ 50.00 or 100.00 but rather now demand GH ¢ 150.00. But what for? One of the suspected smokers (presumably a nark) said that the increase was in response to the increase in the cost of living. He then advised that all dealers on duty must keep at least GH¢ 150.00 as a buffer against any police arrest. ‘For the police never hesitate in taking the money and releasing you within the same market vicinity’, he claims.

But is this news? Not really! While travelling in a trotro Urvan bus from Nyamekye Junction to Legon on the GW Bush Highway, we stopped at some place (most likely a no-parking zone) and picked up two passengers. Just a 100 metres way, we were stopped by the police at Bambolino just by the overhead footbridge. The driver got down and moved to the police who engaged him in some long talk. The driver mate got angry and made a comment in Akan which translates as ‘Whatever you say, they will take GH¢ 10.00. Just give it to them and come for me to reimburse you’.

With his master still not coming, the angered driver mate removed the GH ¢ 10 banknote, got down and run to the police pick-up truck. Within 30 seconds, the mate and his master were back in the trotro. The angry mate lambasted his master for wasting precious time just because of GH ¢ 10.00.

From there, I got to know that every activity that Ghanaian police consider to be wrong has its corresponding on-the-spot charge. Despite the above, I am optimistic that the police will do the right thing this time by allowing the law to take its due course. For carrying out any action or intervention is much easier; what is difficult is sustaining it. It thus remains to be seen whether the police arrested the ‘suspects’ as part of the Christmas traditions or whether law enforcers really intend flushing criminals out of Accra.

Therefore, I challenge the IGP to monitor his men and women to ensure that this particular incident serves its ‘intended purpose’. Intended purpose here never means to enrich the police for Christmas.

Long live concerned citizens!

Idris Pacas

020 91 01 53 3 & iddrisuabdulai12@yahoo.com

Columnist: Pacas, Idris