When will the enforcement of laws be prioritised in Ghana?
It is said that Ghana as a country has one of the best laws in the world but enforcement has always been the problem.
I am yet to hear of one person who has been prosecuted for not wearing a face mask even though there is a law to that effect.
The lack of adherence to the COVID-19 protocol as one goes through the city and towns of the country is a clear indication of the inertia towards being law abiding.
In commercial buses, you find some people not wearing the face masks and when you ask them, they have excuse for it. A pregnant woman was advised to put on her face mask and she calmly stated that she has one but putting it on makes it difficult for her to breathe. She added that in crowded areas she puts it on.
The funny thing was that she was on a bus and if that environment was not a crowded area, I wonder what her sense of a crowded area is.
When I was a child, I heard statements like: “The French people do not joke with their laws.” “When you go to Ivory Coast or Togo, when the police blow their whistle for you to stop and you do not stop, you are arrested and fined on the spot.”
Being someone who was brought up in a Christian home, respect for rules was part of my training, I loved the French people as a result of what I heard about their being firm with rules and regulations. It has been observed that, countries that have developed, have a characteristic of observance of rules and regulations.
There is a general belief that laws are not enforced in Ghana and this has been indelibly inked into the psyche of the populace. It has led to the situation where there is a certain inherent inertia towards doing the right thing and simply obeying the laws of the land.
This places a burden on those few people who would like to see the right thing being done at all times. Such people are seen to be too strict and in a lot of instances are seen as being odd. It has the tendency of demotivating people who want to be law abiding and, therefore, there is an urgent need for a different approach to doing things, otherwise we are going nowhere as a nation.
One of the main causes has to do with a lack of understanding of the harmful impact of this unwillingness to be law abiding.
The Bible puts it in Galatians 6:7 as, “We reap what we sow”. Sir Isaac Newton puts it as, “Action and reaction are equal and opposite”. In computer circles it is known as, “garbage in, garbage out”. In other words, whatever you obtain is as a result of a certain action or decision you previously took. Most things do not happen by chance in this world. When you go to the streets of say London and they are clean, it is as aresult of conscious effort to keep it that way by the citizens. Rubbish does not sweep itself off the streets; people take steps to keep the streets free from trash.
Even if God is the President of this country and people deliberately drop polythene on our streets after drinking sachet water, the streets would be dirty until God by his awesome power works a miracle to sweep the trash off the streets. Unfortunately for us, God does not do what he has given us the ability to execute, and would not come down to make our cities and towns clean when he has given us the wisdom and strength to do it ourselves.
We then turn around and begin to blame those in authority when it rains and floods invade our homes and destroy our property, forgetting that we poured rubbish under cover of darkness into our gutters thereby preventing free flow of water into the sea. There is a price to pay for any wrong decision we make.
There was news reportage on the arrest of some Nigerians at Kasoa, and it was detected after the arrest that they had entered the country illegally.
They had no passport yet had been able to enter the country and I was deeply worried. The conclusion the average rational human being would arrive at is that, they bribed their way into the country and were assisted by immigration officers or local residents along our borders.
What is worrying is the fact that we are in a period of alertness due to intelligence that suggests that terrorists have targeted our country.
Nigeria has been fighting Boko Haram for quite a long time now, especially in the northern part of that country.
If these people who had gained access to our nation’s capital were terrorists, only God knows the havoc they would have caused.
Some people had not considered the threat their action poses to the peace and security of our country and have assisted these foreigners to gain entry into Ghana.
Law enforcement is not the work of only the law enforcement agencies. It is a collective responsibility; for instance for effective policing, the general public must provide them with credible Intel for them to be able to arrest criminals. Most arrests the police have successfully carried out have been the result of information provided to them by ordinary citizens.
The problem is the trust issues that sometimes arises when informants after providing information gets exposed by some unscrupulous police personnel.
This cause people to become afraid in providing credible information to the police and their work in enforcing the law then becomes difficult.
There is, therefore, the need to put in place an effective whistleblowing system that will provide safety for any whistleblower, so that people would feel confident that their lives would not be in danger should they volunteer information.
There must be a review of our criminal laws so that people would be motivated to do the right thing and be law abiding.
The focus should be on removing the discretionary powers of our judiciary as much as possible so that influence peddling would be eliminated to the barest minimum. When there is a perception that the rich and powerful can get away with crime, we would never strive as a people for a law abiding culture.
It is only when people realise that we are indeed equal before the law, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, big or small, that a law abiding culture would become prevalent and law enforcement would become easy and effective.
A national consciousness awakening programme must be initiated to tune the national psyche towards adoption of right attitudes, and this would go a long way in changing attitudes in both young and old.
The surest way of ensuring the growth of our nation and rubbing shoulders with the developed nations is to develop a nation of law abiding citizens.