TALKING DRUM: Killing our officers, must we not challenge Amnesty Int’l Ghana whitewashing criminals?

Just when I had ordered my banku at an eatery somewhat opposite the Afrikiko Restaurant in Accra, I had a call from the office. It was my colleague, Sylvia Akorfa [Miss AK], calling with 3FM’s landline.

“Hey, Solomon where are you?” she asked.

Before I could tell her I was outside the premises of 3FM/TV3 for lunch, she pulled the breaks on me forcing me to swallow my words.

“Someone by name Patrick just called in from Liberia Camp enclave near Kasoa. He says some suspected armed robbers have shot dead a police officer and injured another,” continued Miss AK.

I quickly scripted a lead [the story] on my phone and dropped it on the newsroom’s WhatsApp page with the eyewitness’ contact attached. My Managing News Editor for TV at Media General – Matilda Haynes – had a private chat with me.

“Please, try and get to the office. This is journalism,” she replied when I told her I was about eating. As the order came, I quickly dashed to 3FM’s studios to break the news. That was how I was immediately affected by the painful death of the police officer whom we later got to know went by the name Sergeant Michael Dzamesi.

Sgt. Dzamesi did not receive the fire alone. His colleague officer was involved, too. Lance Corporal Mohammed Awal, in a widely circulated social media video, had tried rushing for medical attention after being hit by the bullets. Apparently, confused bystanders had assisted him mount the back seat of a motorbike. He is seen slapping the hand of the rider to speed up; he was dying slowly of the bullet wounds!

As the motorbike sped off, voices are heard [according to the video] crying that Mohammed Awal was likely to fall off. To cut a long story short, the young man could not stand the bullet wounds. He passed on, too! This was on Wednesday, August 28 2019.

If for the temporary pangs of hunger I felt it so hard leaving my food to go report on that breaking news ─ as journalism takes no excuses but results ─ then can the dependents of these officers contain their ‘hunger’ for the years ahead? News reports suggest that both Sgt. Michael Dzamesi and Lance Corporal Mohammed were breadwinners of their respective families.

In 2019 alone, in a matter of barely a month, five police officers’ lives have been agonizingly taken by criminals.

Corporal Agatha Nana Nabin with the Northern Regional Police Command was, on July 30, shot dead at a police checkpoint. We are told it was on the Tamale-Kumbungu road in the Sagnarigu District.

August 19 announced the death of Corporal Bernard Antwi. The 37-year old was with the Manso Nkwanta Divisional Command in the Ashanti region.

Corporal Antwi was found dead at Manso Abodom in the Amansie West District of the region. News reports suggest he died after working hours.

Akyem Swedru Police Station’s General Lance Corporal Alhassan Asare also died on August 20. The incident which happened at the Dukes Fuel Station, in the Eastern region, had it that the 35-year old man had his rifle in between his thighs at the time of his death. What is not clear is whether he [mistakenly] shot himself or someone shot him.

Is it not heartbreaking that your husband or wife, sister or brother says goodbye to you in the morning that they are going to work and that they would be back only to hear they are no more? They are no more because someone decided to take their life!

This, the Amnesty International Ghana says we must respect the human rights of such criminals by not killing them in return. So, for many months now, the human rights organization has called on President Akufo Addo, the Attorney General and other stakeholders to expunge the death penalty sentence in Ghana’s legal system.

If you care to know, Amnesty International Ghana actually wants the death penalty totally abolished from our laws by close of this year.

“Ghana has not executed anybody in the last ten years and it is believed to have established a practice of not carrying out executions. Although no official moratorium executions are in place, Ghana has not carried out an execution since 1993. Twenty countries in sub-Saharan Africa have already abolished the death penalty for all crimes; seven of which are in West Africa,” said the Director of Amnesty International Ghana, Robert Akoto Amoafo, at the launch of the Global Death Penalty Report. So was it captured by the news portal, Modern Ghana, in April 2019.

What irks me is Mr. Amoafo’s reiterated position that killing the law court’s certified criminals amounts to denying them their human rights.

“This is clear evidence that all countries in ECOWAS have abolished the death penalty in one way or another. The time is right for Ghana to join the league of abolitionist countries in Africa and the world by abolishing death penalty for all crimes. Let us all remember that death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights and simply does not deter crime in any way.”

Can I ask the Amnesty International Ghana if those the criminals killed had no human rights? I do not, in any way, oppose the operations of the human rights organization. But, when we embolden criminals this way, then I cannot help but speak up.

Is Robert Akoto Amoafo saying death penalty does not deter crime in any way? Well, he is not alone holding on to this assertion. Recently, I argued with a friend on same as he said if such punishment works, America would have been crime-free. My simple answer to him was that America’s crime rate stemmed from stupidity.

As I write this piece, August 31st, I have had notification on my phone from the BBC. It says, “A mass random shooting in the Texas city of Odessa has left ‘multiple gunshot victims’.” You cannot make the purchasing of guns as simple as one buying tomatoes from the Mallam Market – in Accra – and expect a sane society!

Commenting on the arrest of the crime suspect in the killing of the two police officers at Kasoa, security analyst Adib Saani, rather made a stern case that criminals must be shown the exit point of this world, too.

“A clear signal would also have to be sent, at least, to deter them [criminals] from towing the same line [committing murder]. And, I’m saying that – look – the legal regime would have to change so killing our officers would be tantamount to crimes against the state which invariably attracts death penalty,” Mr. Adib said in a TV3 interview.

Indeed, Ghana could be a sane society as Japan if we would let common sense lead in how people get access to guns, deal with persons who abuse the use of such guns and shun Amnesty International Ghana’s hot air.

I must, however, add that if anyone mistakenly kills – manslaughter ─ then we could respect the human rights of such persons [killers] by sparing them to live on. We are all fallible as humans. But, my point is, our fallibility plays no role when we internationally perpetrate malice!

By Solomon Mensah

The writer is a broadcast journalist with TV3/3FM. Views expressed here are solely his and do not, in anyway, reflect the editorial policy of his organization.

Email: nehusthan4@yahoo.com

Twitter: @aniwaba

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