Driving on the wrong side of the road: Are the Police above the law?

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So the other day the MP for Kade Consituency, Hon. Kwabena Ohemeng-Tinyaase was caught by the Police on the Legon bypass or GIMPA stretch for driving on the wrong side of the road. This unfortunate encounter the MP had with the Police was filmed by the media and the video went viral. Most Ghanaians criticized the MP sharply and in a humiliating manner because he is a lawmaker and he who makes the law must equally obey the law especially in a democratic dispensation where rule of law principles are highly upheld.

Most often than not, the Police keep arresting ordinary Ghanaians for such road traffic offenses and some of these offenders were prosecuted and convicted. To some minds, while manifestly guilty persons should be convicted, the integrity of the prosecutorial authority should also be upheld because failure to do so is antiquated and it flies in the face of the rule of law principles.

On that fateful day, the Police caught a “a big fish”, a member of the second arm of government responsible for making the law that the Police enforces.

In fact, driving on the wrong side of the road for an unjust cause is not only illegal but also poses danger to other road users. In legal phraseology therefore, the Kade MP had committed an illegality on the road that day.

Honestly, it is difficult to fight crime or illegality if equality before the law is sacrificed or compromised. The ramification is the erroneous impression that justice is dispensed to only the highest bidder or the affluent in society.

In Ghana, the Police wields prosecutorial powers but that power must be exercised or exerted responsibly and ethically.

Much as I am not by this piece jumping hastily to a gratuitous defence of the Kade MP, I dare argue that even the Police who are authorized to enforce the law tend to break the law most especially on our roads hence they should begin arresting even their own who do so because they are not supposed to be above the law.

We see police officers and officers of other public sector security agencies driving on the wrong side of the road mostly under the pretence of emergency yet we don’t see them arresting and prosecuting their colleagues who do that.

Sometimes, the vehicular traffic becomes so jammed yet these security officers inconvenience other motorists by blowing the siren or tooting the car horn and meandering through the traffic jam. They are always in a hurry somewhere. Are we now practicing 2 legs bad and 4 legs good in Ghana and for that matter on the roads?

In other jurisdictions, police officers follow the traffic and do not blow siren unnecessarily for other road users to give way. Any time it is done so in other developed jurisdictions, then everyone knows that there is emergency.

It is unethical for police to arrest people for the same offenses they (the police) equally commit.

A law enforcement institution like the Ghana Police Service calls for equity in the course of her prosecutorial duties and must therefore come with clean hands.

For example, under the caption “Not Fixing Registration Number”, section 43 of the Road Traffic Act (Act 683 of 2004) states,
_”The owner of a motor vehicle or trailer being used or kept on a road commits an offence where the registration number is not fixed as required by Regulations made under this Act and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 500 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or to both.”_
Contrariwise to the foregoing section of the Road Traffic Act, I saw a Police vehicle being driven yesterday from Tesano towards Achimota and it was without a vehicle number plate. However ,”Police” was boldy inscribed on the body of the vehicle.

The institution that is supposed to enforce the road traffic law rather breaks the law but goes round arresting others including an MP who breached the same law or other laws.

In the Bible (John 8:7), Jesus asked the multitude that brought the prostitute before Him for judgment, that any of them that was without sin should first cast the stone.

One therefore wonders why the Police casts the stone at those who break the same laws even police officers do not obey.

Much as we appreciate the herculean tasks our Police Officers perform, methinks the IGP must ensure that even his boys obey the laws especially on the roads.
Some of them even insult civilians and overly rude to them while others intimidate civilians, perhaps forgetting their decisions and actions can be reviewed judicially.

After all, Article 23 of Ghana’s Supreme law requires public officials to act fairly. It states, ” Administrative bodies and administrative officials shall act fairly and reasonably and comply with the requirements imposed on them by law and persons aggrieved by the exercise of such acts and decisions shall have the right to seek redress before a court or other tribunal.

 

Men in uniform are expected to be disciplined individuals and must respect the uniform because society values the uniform.

We hope ardently that the situation will change for the better and the police will also obey the road traffic laws and regulations both in letter and spirit.

(Asante Sana)

Article By: Philip Afeti Korto

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