Dear Ghana Police Service, Ghanaians are worried about your dress code – The case of Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election

Dear Ghana Police Service, Ghanaians are worried about your dress code

The death of Emmanuel Kyeremateng Agyarko, a former Member of Parliament for the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency is a national loss.

However, in governance and politics, life must go on. According to Ghana’s national laws, a by-election for all eligible candidates must be held to find a new MP for the constituency.

January 31, 2019, was chosen as election day as the nation and particularly, voters from the Ayawaso West Wuogon geared up to choose their new representative.

For an election that was a small cake of the national election pie in a country that had seen peace prevail in most of these circumstances, not much harm was anticipated.


Ghana is known and tagged across Africa and most parts of the world as a peaceful country. That is not to say the West African country has not seen its one little misunderstandings among groups here and there.

It is, however, alarming that for a by-election like the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency (a constituency that is not stereotypically branded as a troublesome election area), the first major news that broke from its happenings was gunshots wounding people.

An eyewitness gives an account of four men trying to disrupt the election at the La Bawaleshie polling station with low-security presence. He narrates the two policemen on the scene at the time started shooting after the guys tried to push the ballot boxes away. The policemen gave some warning shots after shooting two of the men who tried to halt the ongoing process.

This incident called for reinforcement to beef up security at the area, an action that has escalated to a national debate.


Most Ghanaians have always had the analogy that the policemen are not feared in the country. In the case of reinforcement during chaos, most people usually recommend the military.

On the contrary, there have been so many occasions where the police have confidently and successfully calmed situations that need calming without going overboard. And obviously, there’s been many cases where the process has been done with people being assaulted too.

Nonetheless, once Ghanaians can identify that this is a policeman or a military man, it does solve half of the problem. People who are still in their angry heat moment thread with caution. Civilians go about their activities with some freedom because of the presence of some national security members and it goes a long way to help. Ghanaians feeling safe is the ultimate goal at the end of the day.

That has not been the case of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.


Case 1: Thick tall men stand at the back and on the sides of a moving vehicle on gigantic wheels. With a black shirt, a brown protective vest matching the colours of their trousers and boots, these men look intimidating as ever. The exceptionally mind-boggling part is that all their faces are covered with masks, only showing their eyeballs to see the way. A few of them have protective helmets on.

Case 2: An all-black (dark blue-black depending on the level of your colour-blindness) dressed man poses for a photo with his ammunition and other defence equipment hanging on him.

No one can see the smile of the man posing for the photo. His face is covered. His eyes are barely showing. No nose is seen. No ears are seen. The only part of the body exposed is the tips of his fingers. Just scary.


Case 3: The third part of dressing for the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election was just having a black shirt with a tag, not necessarily a tag by any national security service. A tag and you’re most probably good to go.

The only identification in all of these three cases is being in a car by the Ghana Police Service.

Ghana Police Service has a vision which states on their official website:

"Our vision at the Ghana Police Service is to be a world-class Police Service capable of delivering Planned, Democratic, Protective and Peaceful services up to standards of international best practice."


Taking the case of happenings at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, the Ghana Police service failed in a lot of what they claim their vision to be.

Things can sometimes take a turn despite projections, but all accounts of how the whole mishaps started at the La Bawaleshie polling station could have been prevented if a proper plan around security was put in place.

On the case of being democratic, having different members of opposing views always question this as various times based on who feels favoured and who does not is a real issue that needs addressing.


The people of Ghana according to comments and remarks on social media do not feel the way the Ghana Police Service handled the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-elections is one that emphasizes their protective nature. 

For them, the masked attire is a total scare off if indeed the personnel seen in them are members of the Ghana Police Service. The visuals and the photos going around just breeds fear and ignites a topic of how Ghanaians feel uncomfortable with how things turned out.

Peaceful services were torn in shambles at the La Bawaleshie polling station. Everyone understands there is some force that needs to be applied during such interactions for peace to eventually prevail.

What everyone also knows is, members of the Ghana Police Service are trained. Trained for a reason.

If you just needed some muscles and ripped legs to be booting people around to make them behave, a lot of street boys could have done this.


Various footages show these guys in masks just pushing people to the floor and ‘teaching them a lesson’ with their boots. There were slaps. There were shots. And there were a lot of assaults and violence in the name of protecting public peace.

Voters are always encouraged to go out and vote. But no voter will ever risk their life or health by just trying to harmlessly exercise their vote. No voter wants to interact with masked men who can neither be identified by face or by tags. 

So here’s the thing…


The people you’re protecting the public peace for are worried.

They are worried that they can’t see the faces of the people doing these protections for them in a normal community that is nowhere near a war zone.

They are worried that these people show no identification whatsoever. What if they are in need and run to the wrong person whose only effort was to find a black shirt and a black mask?

They are worried that as trained men, you do not show the least bit of the various forms of calming peace that meets the so-called international standard best practices you claim to adhere to. And that it’s mostly assaults or violence.


They are worried and need assurances to how they can differentiate you from the others and trust you as they should.

To them, there is no difference between an armed robber and how your men showed up to regulate the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election and that needs changing really quick with a major election coming up in less than two years ahead. Do something now. And that something must be worthy.

Even if it means you coming out to state those men were not members of the Ghana Police Service and face the subsequent questions that will be raised.


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