Ghana’s Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, has said civilians who are not trained are permitted by the law to acquire guns to protect themselves, and, so, wondered why arming police personnel with the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the police service will be a threat to peace, as argued by some civil society groups following his order to the Inspector-General of Police to implement that police.
The order followed the killing of five police officers within a space of a month – the latest being the murder of two officers with the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service at Kasoa on Wednesday, 28 August.
“From today, we will give MTTD officers weapons,” the IGP said on Thursday, indicating that it was a directive from the Minister for the Interior.
“From now on…police on traffic duties should be armed. I will ask that you [IGP] insist and enforce that strictly”, Mr Dery ordered, adding: “This will enable our men in uniform to effectively exercise their right of self-defence. It will also enable them as police on patrol to fight violent crime”.
However, the Bureau of Public Safety (BPS) has argued that arming traffic wardens will be a “recipe for disaster”.
Explaining the basis for the directive at a meeting with the Ashanti regional police command on Tuesday, 3 September 2019, as part of his visit to the region, Mr Dery stated that the cops should be protected with bulletproof vests, helmets and cameras “to enable the police officers, including the MTTD (1) to effectively exercise their right to self-defence, and (2) to enable them to assist in fighting violent crime.”
He continued that for those who have issues with the government arming the police, “especially, officers of the MTTD, let me remind them that they’re all police-trained in how to handle arms and only been assigned to take care of traffic.”
Mr Dery said: “It has happened over the years and it still happens up to today that individuals, citizens, civilians apply and after background checks are granted permission to buy arms to protect themselves. Pistols, shotguns; they buy to protect themselves”.
He, thus, wondered: “People who are not trained, they buy it to protect themselves; if that is not a threat to peace, how can arming a trained, competent professional of the Ghana police service be a threat to society? That cannot be”.