Guardians Become Predators: The Rise of Ghana’s Shadow Crisis Between Security Forces and Citizens

Ever since Ghana adopted the practice of Democracy in 1992, only one attribute is equally identified by all when counting our successes with this practice. With the demerits, we could count hundreds in minutes. Democracy, as with every other practice in the world, comes with its negative impacts. African Democracies including Ghana have tasted many of these negatives after almost twenty-two (22) years of practice. Whenever we count all these negative impacts, we always take solace in the fact that Peace has reigned in all of this. Sadly, this dear feat is threatened and opposed by the critical question; for how long?

Ghana’s peace reign has been a beautiful story to recount after eight elections between 1992 and 2020. It has been a peaceful transition of power among five successive democratic governments who were elected by the people through the Universal Adult Suffrage as is practiced in Democracies all over the world. Where an opponent had a reason to challenge the election outcome supervised by the Electoral Commission, they did challenge it in the Law Courts. This has possibly erased the memory and fear of who could take over power the next morning as has been experienced a lot often in the history of Ghana before 1992. Despite all these successes, there has been the recurrence of a debilitating issue. 

After the 2020 elections, the Ghana Police report revealed that a total of eight persons lost their lives during the elections. These eight lives included minors. Unquestionably, the shootings of unarmed men by police and the military were the cause of these deaths. These shootings took place throughout four separate regions of the country in five distinct towns. Tamale, Savelugu, Techiman, Odorkor, and Ablekuma were among these towns. Almost four years after taking office following the incident, the President has yet to voice any concern about this matter. The President, Nana Akufo-Addo is a Human Rights activist. He publicly showcased his support for the “Black Lives Matter” which seeks to find justice for coloured people who suffered discrimination from the American Police years ago. Again, when a civilian by name George Floyd was killed by a Minesota Police after kneeling on his neck for nine minutes, President Nana Akufo-Addo joined the protest and called for justice for the deceased.  At the President’s request, George Floyd’s name has been permanently mounted on the wall of the Diasporan African Forum at the W.E.B. Du Bois Centre in Accra, Ghana’s capital town. Maybe black lives matter elsewhere but not in Ghana.

Six months after the election, the Military and Ghana Police again fired arms indiscriminately at unarmed protestors in Ejura. This resulted in the loss of two lives and four others were severely injured and found themselves in critical condition. 

Once more, the military raided Ashaiman, a suburb of the Greater Accra Region, following Ghana’s Independence Day celebration in 2023, abusing and beating those young adults who happened to be in the township that awful day. There was video proof that the military had made some people drink water out of drains. Numerous more were gathered, their bare backs adorned with cables and rods. After the occurrence, many of these individuals are still dealing with the stress and scars. Several others suffered irreversible loss of senses, including hearing and sight. Why did the military perform this horrific act on innocent people? A day after the incident, the Ghana Armed Forces released a statement which sought to answer this question. The statement explained that it was an intelligence-led operation sanctioned by the High Command in the military aimed at those responsible for the murder of a young soldier, Trooper Imoro Sherrif, within Ashaiman. Were those responsible for the killing of the soldier known? Certainly, Not! Therefore, regardless of whether they actually reside in that municipality, any young adult who found themselves there on that sad day had to pay for it. This is still a democratic state, I assure you not.

These regrettable incidents appear to be here to stay. Even though 2024 is just the first month, the military has already killed two innocent civilians in Bawku, in the Upper East Region, as a result of their random gunfire intended to disperse a predominantly female protesting throng. And what was the military’s defense this time around? There is always a defense for killing civilians. At best, the Military releases a communique that totally refutes the killing. It is common to blame it on an unrecognized group. 

What happens when those who are paid with tax payers’ money to ensure the safety of civilians does the opposite by hurting, abusing and killing them? Let me tell you.

At best, the media spend a week or two highlighting the incident until more interesting news resurfaces. During the same period of the media’s continuous highlight of the incident, some MPs will call for a Parliamentary probe into the incident. What comes of it has never proven any useful. It would be fair to regard it as near-useless! When the Interior Ministry acknowledges the regrettable actions—which happens very infrequently—it usually shows an interest in the situation and suggests harsh penalties for the military personnel or the police who carried out the horrible deed on the population. Once more, however, we never witness the conclusion.

It is accurate to state that Ghanaians in the general public are at the mercy of the military’s and police’s distance. Any day now, if the military is discovered nearby, you might be the next casualty. Of course, there is no record of any known government official or relative ever having been a victim of any of these brutalities at any point in time. It’s always the ordinary Ghanaian.

We must constantly remind ourselves that the cost of abusing peace is just too high in light of all these events that have occurred over the course of several years. Let no man attempt to pay the fee. Let us cherish and embrace peace like it is all we have. May democratic governments strengthen and check on state institutions effectively to truly represent their people, protecting them and providing them with a sense of security that offers peace.

Article by

Isaac Asamoah

He is a Development Planning and Development studies enthusiast. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from KNUST in Ghana. He believes in the ideals of the free market and civil liberty which YAFO Institute shares. He is also passionate about writing, digital opportunities and the future of technology. 

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