I virtually shed tears, but at the same time, my heart was burdened with immense fury when news broke that a lively 33-year old tutor, who only sacrificed his sleep to answer a distress call to assist a colleague attacked by armed robbers, was killed by police officers, while the real robbers escaped.
I mean how? Yes; life is full of mysterious and piercing stories that one cannot always comprehend.
Accidents indeed do happen; but I think every right-thinking Ghanaian is justified to be enraged over such reckless killings by the very people [Police] who are paid by us to offer us protection.
And time after time, they [Police] shamefully tell us it’s a mistake; and we are supposed to just swallow that elucidation and go to bed as if nothing has happened.
This scenario is just like a wealthy man [In this case the Ghanaian tax payer] housing, feeding and paying his security guard to protect him, [Just as we do for the police] and then that same security guard shoots his employer under bizarre circumstances and calls it a mistake. Like seriously?
No; I don’t call these repeated reckless acts mistakes; only a few may genuinely be.
I can arguably say that majority of these cases are just due to detectable negligence and sometimes abuse of power and in a few cases sheer wickedness.
Francis Gbeneh, a human anatomy tutor of the Mampong Nursing and Midwifery Training College according to the account of the police, was shot to death because he was mistaken to be one of the armed robbers the police had been called in to deal with.
And to think that Francis Gbeneh, was not in this alone, but killed together with his brother, Thaddeus Gbeneh, 28, while on a Government [GV]-registered motorbike, is indeed devastating and heart-breaking.
It is even more shocking to know that they were not armed yet they police officers that night, as if they were under the influence of some hard substance, pulled the trigger to end their lives.
I believe my anger is 100% justified; and I don’t care whether you agree with me on that or not.
This isn’t the first of such reckless killings, and I bet you it won’t be the last. I am not a prophet of doom; that is the stark reality. And as usual, the police will come out with half-truths to explain why and how it happened, just as they have done in this case.
Below is the hogwash explanation from the Ashanti Regional Police Relations Officer (PRO), ASP Mohammed Tanko, who says the command is saddened by the incident. He expressed their condolence to the bereaved family. Well, I think the family needs justice and not your commiseration. You can keep that for another time.
ASP Tanko said, “Early this morning [Wednesday] at about 2:00am, there was a distress call from the Mampong Midwifery Training School to the effect that some armed robbers were attacking the home there, so a patrol team was dispatched to deal with the situation and according to the men on patrol, when they got to the scene, they were told that the robbers had just taken a particular route.”
ASP Tanko added that, while the team pursued the route the robbers had allegedly taken, “they saw a motorbike moved with speed so their thinking was that, those were the robbers so they pursued them and tried as much as possible to stop them but they did not stop.”
He went on to say that “the person who was sitting behind the motor rider [The Pillion rider] had something [An object] in his hand; and he turned towards the police; so when the person was turning, they mistook the turn to be that he was turning to shoot so they quickly fired. Later on, it was discovered that they were not the criminals but they were people who were running around trying to get assistance for the victims who were attacked by the robbers,” he concluded.
The explanation above, visibly doesn’t add up. And I wonder how ASP Tanko would have taken this explanation if the deceased persons were his relatives.
But you know what; the police can get away with this just like they have in several of such cases in the past. After all, dead men don’t talk; and so no witness, no case.
Unfortunately for the Gbeneh brothers, they were not lucky enough to have had anyone witness or visual recording of what transpired as we have seen elsewhere, videos of police officers cold-heartedly maltreat and kill unarmed civilians.
[Similar cases] Unarmed student shot dead by police 
I have lost count of the number of times such ‘mistake killings’ so-called, have occurred in this country. I ranted in similar tone on February 12 2015, in an article titled “IGP! Call Your Men To Order.”
That article was necessitated by student disturbances at the St. Pauls SHS at Denu in the Volta Region, where another police officer thoughtlessly shot through the head of a student who was not armed, killing him instantly on Sunday February 9 2015.
And I have confirmed that is also a dead and a ‘foolish case’ as we say in Ghana. And that reckless police officer is walking, drinking and eating free. Over time, he may even be promoted if natural justice doesn’t catch up with him before then.
My intention is not to smear the integrity of the Ghana Police Service and its officers. I am only asking them to act more responsibly and stop killing the same citizens they should be protecting due to negligence, incompetence and abuse of power.
Most Ghanaians may not be privy to the kind of training new police or military recruits go through; and so may understandably have very little or no idea about crowd control, which I believe is a key component of the training.
But I am of the view that regardless of the training, the natural human brain infused with common sense often not acquired through classroom education, knows that you must not fire a straight shot to control ‘unarmed’ rioting students in that scenario.
Police shoots police in Winneba 
The other case I recall clearly, is the Winneba incident, where two police officers were painfully killed by their own colleagues.
And just like the Mampong scenario, those shoot-to-kill officers with or without justification, were also responding to a distress call following a reported robbery scene.
The perpetrators attempted to cover up their crime by saying the officers were killed by the armed robbers in a shoot-out.
But it later emerged that the two who lost their lives at Gomoa Pomadze, near Winneba in September 2013, were killed by police officers.
The deceased, both members of the Central Regional Police Band, were identified as Lance Corporals Emmanuel Tetteh, 36, and Francis Appiah, 28. I need not tell you how that case ended; it’s just a flashback what happened in the Denu case.
And often, the bereaved families have no option than to mourn for some time; bury the departed, while the police only pretend they are investigating; and then eventually the cases are consciously forgotten.
Even in cases where the families of the victims have attempted to pursue justice, they have tried but in vain because clearly, justice is rare to come by in our part of the world when you do not really matter due to your social class.
While thinking deeply about such injustices continually committed against the weak in our society, I concluded that if for instance the two brothers slain were related to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) or even any of his subordinates, the service would have smoked out the officers and make sure they are jailed.
But sadly, this is the hypocritical, dishonest and selective society we live in; a country where any public servant in their line of duty commits grievous errors that maim and take human lives, and they walk away chest high.
Permit me to digress briefly. After a recent earthquake in Taiwan that killed over 50 people, the country has arrested a developer whose 22-year old 17-storey-building killed 39 people.
I was totally astonished when I read the story because in my mind, this is a natural disaster that humans cannot control.
When I paused briefly, the first thought that came to mind is the sharp contrast of what pertains in our backyard [Ghana]. A country where people have lost their lives in preventable situations yet those whose negligent actions caused them walk the streets free.
Until the day we take the bull by the horn as a country to punish without fear or favour by eschewing cronyism and favouritism, people will incessantly be emboldened to act negligently at the expense of precious human lives.
In my decade-old journalism career, I have heard very few stories of Ghanaian police officers shooting to weaken suspected rowdy criminals in order to arrest them. They often shoot-to-kill, and that is against international policing standards and also breaches the fundamental human rights of suspects.
I think these happenings in the service over the years, have exposed huge gaps in the kind of assessment done on recruits and perhaps the training they are given. The danger is that, some hardened criminals including drug addicts, may have infiltrated the service, and that is partly to blame for a lot of these lapses. Some of the officers are simply happy to pull the trigger.
I have come to a rather painful conclusion that, the police service in Ghana, is one of the most unattractive places where people genuinely don’t desire to work. If there is any attraction at all for a good-sized number, I believe it is the obvious loopholes in the service that clearly allows people to be rapidly rich or extort, and empowered to abuse the citizenry. And I use the adjective ‘painful’ because I know there are exceptional police officers working diligently with integrity for mother Ghana. But sadly, those are few.
Today, many find themselves in the service not because they desired to work there, but because it is also one of the certain public jobs to fin d once your connections are good. And considering the rising unemployment rate, any job that puts food on the table is manageable for some people.
Authorities of the Mampong Nursing and Midwifery Training College have given a different account of the shooting to the death of a human anatomy tutor of the school together with his brother by the police.
The school authorities say the police were unprofessional as they fired more than once at the two. They have thus petitioned the IGP, demanding an independent investigation that will ensure justice for the deceased.
The Vice Principal of the school, Mercy Poku, narrating the incident that led to the killing in front of the College’s administration block said, “Around 1:00am, a tutor called another tutor to call the police and the police patrol team came around to the bungalow. According to her, the policemen on arrival asked her and the other occupant to go inside the house and lock the gate. The police gave two warning shots at the back of the bungalow. After they had searched the place, they jumped into their car and went away.”
She narrated further that , “The two security men who were on duty at the school’s administration and witnessed the shooting incident said around 3:00am, they heard multiple gunshots and then they saw the occupants of the motorbike fell and the vehicle stopped. Policemen then came out of the car and one of them made a phone call. After making the call, another police officer walked closer corked the gun and fired the victims that were lying on the floor. They then carried them into the bucket of the vehicle together. After about twenty minutes, the police scene returned to the scene and picked some things from the ground and came back for the third time and left. In the morning, seven bullet shells were picked from the scene and another one found given to the BNI. The multi-billion question is whom did the police call? Why did the police keep firing when the victims were not firing back,” She quizzed.
The narration of the school authorities even breaks my heart the more. Nonetheless, I wish they don’t even waste their time calling for justice from the police, because that will not come. Maybe they should just have hope in the one true and infallible judge who sits in the heavens and rules in the affairs of men.
For now, we can only hope that these senseless killings will stop, and the negligent officers severely dealt with in case they occur again.
May the souls of Francis Gbeneh and Thaddeus Gbeneh, although painfully and prematurely wiped out, rest in peace.
Source: Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie/Email: [email protected]
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