We all can't be professional writers, we all can't have our own newspaper columns. This right here is my space. I get to be my own writer and editor and everyone else will just have to settle to be my critic.
I apologise if that sounds harsh but I really do not know how else to describe some of your officers after the Cal Bank Shooting.
First, an officer of yours gets upset with someone and opens fire inside a banking hall without a care to the fact that there were other customers in the bank. Then, a PRO of your office chooses to brand the target of the shooting as a suspected armed robber, a suspicious person and finally an innocent person, without even apologising for the first 2 names he (the PRO) called him. Honestly, it makes me wonder:
1. What qualifies a person to be accepted into the Ghana Police Service?
2. What qualifies an officer of the Ghana Police Service to be given a firearm?
3. What qualifies an officer to be called a PRO of the Ghana Police Service?
4. When a person identifies him/herself as a PRO of the Ghana Police Service, when he/she speaks about a police case publicly, does that mean his/her words echo your thoughts as IGP? If so, DSP Freeman Tettey is belittling your thought processes.
5. If there is a case involving two civilians, and the Ghana Police Service through its PRO decides to comment, does the PRO speak about what only one party said, or does the PRO speak about what both parties said, or does the PRO remain silent and say the police service will comment after investigations are complete?
6. Should the same in 5. above apply when the case involves one policeman and one civilian?
7. If a PRO of the Ghana Police Service speaks, and there is no counter information from the IGP or a representative of the IGP, does that mean the IGP spoke through the PRO?
8. Does DSP Freeman Tettey have PR training? If so, where did he receive his PR training from?
9. DSP Freeman Tettey said last week after he was done with all his name calling that the police were waiting for the CCTV footage from Cal Bank. Has the Ghana Police Service been able to review the CCTV footage of Cal Bank?
10. If the Ghana Police Service has reviewed the CCTV footage of Cal Bank from the day of the incident, am I pushing in asking that we (Ghanaians) wish to hear what the police service has to say after their review of the footage? Or was it apt on the part of the Ghana Police Service though DSP Freeman Tettey to attempt to ruin a person's reputation when no footage had been seen, but after reviewing the footage (video evidence) that may vindicate a suspected armed robber (according to the police service), the police service keeps mum on the issue? Even DSP Freeman Tettey, who has had so much to say has gone silent.
11. Finally, as IGP, how do you advise your men to handle suspected armed robbers?
Does the Ghana Police Service ever apologise when all shows and proves that the service was wrong? I ask this because, I picked up the Daily Graphic today and there was a story that had me laughing all day. Story was captioned Campaign to boost public confidence in police starts tomorrow. Writing it out here has got me laughing so hard some more. Oh my! Looks like I'm getting all teary eyed.
You care what the public thinks about the police? You haven't acted like it at all. How about we ask families of persons who have been shot dead by police officers and have been told the person shot by the police was actually an armed robber, when all indications show the person was most likely killed by a stray bullet, what they think about the police. I am going too far. How about we ask someone who was shot in a banking hall by a police officer just because he could, and just when he thought it was just one police officer with issues, he hears the next morning that a PRO of the police service obviously speaking for you, IGP and for the whole police service calling him a suspected armed robber, and then video evidence which has obviously vindicated him is watched by the police and none of them, not even their vociferous PRO has anything to say. Ask him how he feels about the police. And oh, ask an innocent man who was placed in Nsawam prison on remand for 14 years and having 2 of his finger nails plucked out by police officers how he feels about the police.
It doesn't hurt to say, I was wrong, I am sorry. It doesn't hurt to say my man/men made a mistake, please accept my apology. Until the police learn to get off their high horse and do that, I'm sorry (see how easy that was to say) what you are trying to do, will remain a joke to a whole bunch of us. In other words, it will fail abysmally. We are human, we are all fallible. Accepting that is the first step to being a better person/institution.
I however haven't forgotten that, "there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but let there never be a time when we fail to protest".
P.S. Why am I going off on this whole PR thing? Well, let's see, could be because I hold an MPhil in the subject.
And oh, the person your officer shot and wounded who was called a suspected armed robber still has shrapnel (bullet fragments) in both legs that doctors say is not advisable to remove as their removal might lead to other complications. Imagine living the rest of your life knowing you have foreign unwanted material (bullet parts) in your body (the psychological trauma).
Dear Management of Cal Bank,
The Cal Bank Shooting is as much your problem as Ghana police and the victims.
Trying to act like an ostrich will not make it go away neither will it make it not your problem. After the incident, you have issued out one statement stating you have been informed of the incident, the injured were given medical care, the incident has been reported to the police (out of curiosity, who reported? you or one of the victims?), you are cooperating with the police investigation and the safety of your customers has always been of paramount concern to you so customers should continue to do their business as usual with you. Seriously? If you are concerned about the safety of your customers, either you show it or issue them bullet proof vests and helmets before they enter your bank.
When there is a crisis, you manage it (yes, this is very much a crisis for Cal Bank) that is why there's something called crisis management. Never heard of a wing (no pun intended) of it called "ostrich crisis management", which really is what you are practicing. Your statement could have started off as you stating how appalled you are by the incident that occurred in your bank (who was right, who was wrong, it was after all appalling), offering your sympathies to the victims of the incident and their families, assuring your customers of their safety in your branches and assuring them you are cooperating with Ghana police in their investigation. Don't urge them to do business with you. Makes you come across as insensitive. Lives could have been lost. That would have sounded like something written by persons with feelings not something written by an automated machine only concerned about profit making. A statement like that does not come across as you judging the situation nor refusing to assist with the police investigation. I know your tag line is "bank on our service" and not "bank on our human relations", but I must have mistook the service you talk about to include human relations. My bad. You are a bank and your service really is collecting people's money and making profits off of it. How they live and die really is no concern of yours. Leave that to human rights activists.
Another thing Management of Cal Bank, if you are not aware, well, officials at your branch where the incident happened, Derby Avenue, are. Your security men at that branch sold (who knows? maybe they still do) parking spaces to shoppers in Accra. So, you get to Accra to shop, can't find parking, you park in front of the bank, pay something to security over there then you go do your shopping. I am guessing proceeds were shared with the policeman at the centre of all this. Why then would a security man, send a policeman after a man because of parking space? Why would the policeman oblige? Something must have driven him. Unless Ghana police can come out and prove that he was under the influence of drugs/alcohol or was controlled by juju or their officers now double as caretakers of parking lots, I'd like to speculate and say the love of money drove him to what he did. Did I already say officials of the branch knew this? They knew and did nothing until this incident happened. Imagine they had put a stop to it. Now, imagine someone comes out to say your security has collected money from them to park over there before. Don't rule that out just yet. It just might happen.
And oh, you saw the communication that was coming from Ghana police and you, having some of your staff witnessing what happened and watching everything on your own CCTV said nothing?
Remember, "there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but let there never be a time when we fail to protest".
Dear Media of Ghana,
With reference to the Cal Bank Shooting, ASK RELEVANT QUESTIONS!
Many thanks to media who told the story of the victim. For the media who chose to set the agenda for Ghana police, you forget that you each have bank accounts and this unfortunate and extremely bizarre incident could happen to you. I guess if it happened to you, you wouldn't be telling the story of Ghana police but your own story. Sometimes in certain situations, it helps to put yourself in the shoes of the other person before you act.
Media men and women of Ghana, I was under the impression you are supposed to be neutral and impartial. I was under the impression you are supposed to be a check on society for all Ghanaians. We all will not be able to interview the public relations officer of Ghana police and make ourselves heard or question certain things. The media has that opportunity and under normal circumstance is to do that for all Ghanaians. In a situation where a case is pending investigation and there are two sides to it, does it hurt to quote what each side has to say and add that the case is under investigation? However, you are free to pick a side. It is after all your media and you are free to do with it as you please. It'd however be a very good idea if you pick the side that is telling the truth (you do have investigative journalists don't you?). Otherwise you'll just come out looking foolish as you will have to keep changing your story as and when the side you chose changes their story.
Ask relevant questions! It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise they should ask Ghana police why a suspected armed robber was shot by one of their officers and was never arrested, never charged for any crime and has been a freeman ever since the incident. If Ghana police honestly felt this person was a criminal, trust me, he would have been behind bars right after the offending officer told his side of the story. It doesn't take a rocket scientist either to realise they should ask how an AK47 fires 3 times on its own during a struggle. Why? Was it locally manufactured?
For the media who did not have the contact and opportunity to interview the victim, heard the Ghana police account, went on ahead to get experts into their studios and question and discuss what Ghana police was saying, God bless you. You showed your media house is run by human beings with feelings. For those who chose to ingest all they were being fed by Ghana police, no questions asked and tried to feed it back to Ghanaians, really? Was under the impression that all journalists were trained to be more open minded than that.
Interestingly enough, no one seems interested in getting Cal Bank's account of events. Aside the statement Cal Bank gave out, which really was speaking in their own interest, nothing. Did I already mention that I was under the impression that the media acted as a check on society? I really would love to be patriotic as some media houses have chosen to focus on this month of March and not say what I am about to, but tell me, how does one stay patriotic to a country where its police shoot and injure you, try to tarnish your image and a section of its media aid its police in covering it up thus making themselves look good? Would any international media have handled this incident like some Ghanaian media have? Would the media of developed countries have handled this as some Ghanaian media did? Or Ghana is not there yet?
Remember, "there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but let there never be a time when we fail to protest".
Dear People of Ghana,
I hope we all have heard about the Cal Bank Shooting. For those who haven't, and for non-Ghanaians who don't know what is happening in Ghana, and for those who have heard a twisted version fabricated by #GhanaPolice, Cal Bank Shooting. This account of the incident which happened on Saturday, March 8, 2014 was given by the victim.
For accurate reportage, which some Ghanaian media who have chosen to set the agenda for Ghana Police are not doing, I should include the story Ghana Police is telling (represent both sides of the story). Thing is, I cannot. Why? Because I don't know which story to upload. I have lost count of the different versions of the Ghana Police account of events since Sunday, March 9, 2014. The victim has moved from a suspected armed robber who struggled with the police officer over the officer's AK47, hence it misfiring, to a suspicious character who transacted no business in the bank, yet hang around the bank and caused the police officer to fire when confronted, to still a suspicious character transacting no business in the bank and the AK47 firing in the process of the officer handcuffing him. Today, the Ghana Police story is the event was a "mishap" and that there had been "negligence and recklessness on the part of the policeman, leading to the unlawful cause of harm to the three innocent persons". Today, Ghana Police counts the victim among innocent people. The story of the victim has however remained the same.
Why should Ghanaians be concerned? After all, not all of us are foolhardy enough to return a policeman's slap even when the slap was unwarranted. Well, there were two other victims who were shot. These were innocent bystanders who were in the banking hall transacting business. Either of them could have lost their life. Either one of them could have been any one of us. Let us not forget that there is at least one armed policeman in front of every bank in Ghana. This could have happened in any bank.
To all Cal Bank customers, future customers and all Ghanaians, in all of this, the bank has issued one statement. Cal Bank's Statement telling Ghanaians to keep doing business with them and everything is safe in their banks despite what happened. Meanwhile, officials of the bank and workers of the bank were present when all this was going down and the bank has, and has watched their own CCTV footage of the incident. Cal Bank has seen and heard how Ghana Police have decided to report the incident and have said nothing. This incident involved their very own customer. It appears the bank is more concerned about business going on as usual in their banks than about their customer and the fact that three of their customers could have died due to the negligence of one Ghanaian policeman. The bank is ignoring the fact that the image of their customer is gradually being tarnished by the very same Ghana police that tried to kill him for no valid reason (do they even care about that). It would probably be better if time was taken to assure Ghanaians of the provision of bullet proof vests for Cal Bank customers by the bank. At least that would show some care and concern on their part.
Ghanaians and the rest of the world, let us open our eyes and see what Ghana police has done and has been trying to do. Let us open our eyes and see just how much a bank cares about its own customer.
Remember,"there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but let there never be a time when we fail to protest".
The Day I Haven't Exactly Forgotten About
... and then the strap of the hand bag snapped causing two things to happen.
1. I was flung into the gutter to my left. Not sure, but I felt the pain in my chin and then in my chest, so I'd say I fell in the gutter chin first.
2. The rear tyre of the car was thrown into the same gutter.
I remember feeling slightly dazed.
Someone or some people helped me out of the gutter and then I notice one of my shoes had fallen off. So then I decide to search for it. Found it in the gutter just where I fell and then I start to search for an earring that had also fallen off (I totally loved those earrings and the shoes too). After about 2 minutes, I give up the search for the missing earring (I must have realised the futility of my searching for an earring at about 10:45pm). I then move towards the car looking inside as though I was searching for something. Someone comes up behind me and asks what I'm looking for. I then tell this person (and anyone interested) that I was searching for my hand bag. Suddenly, one guy pops up seemingly out of no where and says the thief jumped over a wall with it.
Thus begun the mad hunt for the thief.
Me, after seeing all the curious stares I was receiving, some of them a mixture between curiosity and "the girl's gone crazy", and realising my hand bag was gone, I left all them people behind speculating as to what had happened and I set off to my house, wearing one shoe, the other in my hand, wearing one earring and the other most likely lying somewhere on the ground.
I get to the front of my house and bang on the gate. My keys to open the gate were in the stolen hand bag. My mum opens a window and shouts asking who it was. I guess she heard the commotion coming from the junction and was minding her own business in her house, not wanting to get mixed up with all that, and being all extra careful by checking who was banging on her gate before opening it.
Little did she know that all that ruckus had to do with her very own daughter, me. And then I start acting almost like someone who had just been through what I had.
I start sobbing and wailing and somewhere in there, I manage a, "mummy, he took my bag"... (what was in that bag?)
There is a not so flattering scar on my leg to remind me of it, but then again, how many times do I look at my leg in a year?
A couple of weeks ago, I was in a hair salon in my neighbourhood when one of the neighbourhood guys walks in and says whats up to me. The ladies in the salon surprised ask how he knows me. Reason? I keep to myself a lot (always have) and hardly speak to anyone in my hood. Then the guy says, "oh, your salon is new here. This young lady helped get rid of thieves in this area".
Some 7 years ago (wow, seems like eons ago. how come the scar isn't totally obliterated?), just out of uni (translates to I had no job and no money aside what generous members of my family would give), I was heading home from a programme. It was about 10:30pm and I was in a bus (trotro). I hated taking the bus home (for varied reasons) but I really didn't have a choice. My car broke down a couple of weeks before and no one was willing to fix it (did I already say 'just out of uni').
I get to my junction and I get off the bus. I could have used one of two routes home, and I chose to use the one I never use. Why? Because there was this guy who kept staring at me funny in the bus who got off at the same bus stop, and headed in the direction of my usual route. So I thought, why not use the other route. It didn't matter to me at the time that the street I wanted to walk on was too quiet as compared to the one I usually take, which had a pub and a store on it that closed well after midnight.
I move from the main road (the bus stop) to this very quiet street and I instantly start feeling uncomfortable, so I walk as fast as my legs would carry me (which wasn't that fast. anyone who knows me would know why, plus I was in heels). You know how sometimes you can feel someone staring at you from behind? I think I've read it in books as "the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end", that's exactly how I felt. I would turn around every once in a while but saw nothing out of the ordinary.
Then I made the first turn and I felt better. Why? There was a bread and egg seller on this street I was on, and she had quite a number of customers at that time. Now, I relaxed a bit, but still walked as fast as my legs would carry me, and then I made it onto my street. I was convinced something was going to happen but I felt I was home free, or so I thought.
I was walking on the left side of the road with my hand bag hanging on my right shoulder, when this car at top speed, makes the turn onto my street. Thoroughly angry, I turn around ready to scream obscenities at the driver, but I didn't have to bother because the car came to an abrupt stop right next to me. Now I'm thinking that at least the driver was considerate and didn't want me to over utilise my vocal chords by screaming so he had come to me to receive his scolding (who even does that). I open my mouth ready to speak (I was still thoroughly angry) when the driver speaks first and asks me for directions to a bar. I stop for a second thinking about the name of the bar and thinking it sounded awfully familiar (all thoughts of the scolding he deserved out of my mind). I stopped for a second too long.
In that second, the driver of the car lunged for my hand bag and I did the most stupid thing anyone in that position could ever do. I held on. I struggled with him, and then I started shouting "thief", "thief". When I realised nothing was happening and no one was coming to my aide, I shouted thief in two different Ghanaian languages. Just then, I heard the steps of people running towards where I was, I guess from the bread and egg seller's place.
That was when the driver of the car went into reverse and stepped on the accelerator and moved with the same speed he had made the turn with. I'm not sure, but I think I fell chest first onto the ground because I was on the ground, but I first felt this sharp pain in my chest when I hit the ground. Now, I was screaming alright, but in pain. My voice however didn't sound like my own (it sounded too low for someone that was in the situation I was) and the sound of the car's engine totally muffled whatever sound did come out of me. Now, I just wanted to let go of the hand bag, but it was seemingly glued to my hand, and my hand wasn't doing what I so desperately wanted it to do; to let go of the bag.
So here I was, my right hand attached to my hand bag, a guy driving a car and holding on to a part of this same hand bag, the guy in the car and me outside the car and on the ground. Me, the hand bag, the guy and the car were all in motion, being powered by the engine of the car, which was of course controlled by the guy's foot on the accelerator. I knew once he made the turn off my street, and should I make it onto the main road with him, I was a goner.
Prior to that, I know I'd always told myself that should I ever be in a life threatening situation, I would say my last prayers. Thing is, I wanted to live and saying my last prayers meant I was ready to give up, which I wasn't.
All I kept saying over and over again was, "Jesus, help me"...