The police in the Upper East Region have come under a barrage of criticism for accepting motorbikes from Paazie Naab, a small-scale gold miner accused of committing multiple crimes in the region.
Apart from his recent alleged crimes, which the police have failed to act on, Paazie Naab, was put before the High Court in 2013, charged with four offences of stealing, causing unlawful damage, unlawful entry and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Even though the accused’s recent comments of settlement suggested admission of the crimes, the state discontinued the case. The Fourth Estate questioned the Attorney-General’s Department and the High Court on the reason for the discontinuation, but the two institutions could not give any reason.
Docket missing after Attorney-General’s Department withdrew criminal case against Naab
In 2013, Naab and four other men― Binaab Boazie, Suguru Naabil, Boazie Naabil (also known as Tiger) and Berimamwe Naabil― were put before a High Court in Bolgatanga in a criminal case.
They were accused of unlawfully entering Kolog’s house in 2012 and making away with some valuables worth Gh¢302,660.00.
A charge sheet filed at the court by the Justice and Attorney-General’s Department in the region stated that Naab and the other accused persons caused “unlawful damage” to the victim’s property valued at Gh¢9,540.00.
The court granted the accused bail in February 2014 on the application filed by their lawyer, Joseph Dindiok Kpemka.
In June 2022, Naab told reporters he had paid back to Kolog a portion of the amount the damaged and stolen belongings were worth. The following month, he told the press the court had advised the parties to resolve the matter and that it had been settled as recommended.
Contrary to Naab’s claims, Kolog told journalists that the case had not been settled. He told The Fourth Estate that the High Court said the case had been withdrawn by the Republic.
On September 5, 2022, The Fourth Estate asked officials of the Attorney-General’s Department in the region why the case was withdrawn. They replied that they were unable to explain because the docket of the case could not be traced at the department.
Following the inquiry at the Attorney-General’s Department, The Fourth Estate caused a further search at the High Court for the reason the case was withdrawn. The court, in a written reply, said “no reason [was] given”.
The case was withdrawn on December 15, 2014.
Wielding and firing a gun in public places
A few months ago, a man in a public place fired over 10 shots into the air from a pistol. The action is captured in a 30-second video showing the shooter in a white smock with an adoring crowd surrounding him.
The gunslinger, identified as Paazie Naab, is one of the sons of Naab Pubortaaba Nabil, a deceased traditional chief of Gban, a gold-mining suburb of Talensi. He is widely referred to as “Commando” and he is one of the gold barons on the district’s rich list.
His gunfire sparked public outrage as observers said the shots were launched unlawfully. An angry teacher, who wanted to see Naab brought to trial for brandishing and firing a handgun, furnished the Upper East Regional Police Headquarters with a copy of that video recording on June 27, 2022. The teacher was disappointed as he did not see the police take the action he sought.
Several other residents felt disappointed in the same way. Suspecting the police at the regional headquarters were compromised, the upset residents lodged fresh protests on some social media platforms with the footage.
While they were thinking about where else to turn with their complaints, another video emerged from Talensi days later. The new video showed Naab holding a pistol in the midst of another crowd in another public place.
The footage, 17 seconds long, also showed three men in police uniforms. The three men served as bodyguards to Naab as he hastened towards a building with the pistol in front of a charged civilian crowd. Each of the three bodyguards― one in front and two flanking him on either side― held an AK-47 rifle.
Accused donates to police
On 5th July 2022, a group of Talensi residents issued a press statement on Naab’s gun-brandishing spree.
“He discharged the gun to show how powerful he is over the State. We will pursue his unlawful action with the appropriate state institutions in due course because crime never expires,” the statement, signed by the group’s secretary, Sadique Buzong, said.
“But even before we seek redress through the appropriate state institutions, we wish to use this medium to call on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr. George Akuffo Dampare, to have the law deal rigorously with Paazie Naab, aka Commando, for unlawfully discharging a gun in public just as some individuals were arrested and made to face to the full rigours of the law in Ghana under the current IGP irrespective of their status or wealth for brandishing guns and for firing shots in public,” the statement added.
On 18 July 2022― about two weeks after the statement was issued― Naab donated two motorbikes to the Ghana Police Service.
He presented the motorbikes to the Upper East Regional Police Headquarters and announced that the donations were meant to help the police in going after lawbreakers.
The police accepted the gift with applause in front of news cameras. Some residents described it as an irony for the police to welcome a gift from a man who has been spotted on the wrong side of the law.
“Somebody who has committed a crime has given the police motorbikes to fight crime and the police accepted it. Is there any sense in that? And he never donated anything to the police until after some people threatened to have him prosecuted for brandishing and shooting a gun publicly,” reacted a resident, Noah Wongnab. “This only tells you that the police can no longer be trusted in the region.”
Another saddened resident, Martha Aniah, asked: “Are the police allowed to receive donations from a person who should be standing trial for firing bullets in public? Is it not the same offence Shatta Wale, Medikal and others committed in this country and were punished for? How can we be sure of our safety in this region when such a person dangerously goes unpunished?”
Alleged death threat and a dead end
Naab was reported in June 2022 to have issued a death threat to Zongdan Buyak Kolog― a miner otherwise known as “Polo” and famed for his charity to poor people in the district.
The alleged threat was issued after Kolog and Naab got into an argument during a meeting of small-scale miners in Bolgatanga.
Kolog confirmed the alleged death threat to journalists as well as authorities of the Upper East Regional Police Headquarters in the same month he received it.
Answering questions from reporters, Naab said (in Twi) that he only told Kolog that he would “hire boys to stop him from working in the community”.
Subsequently, the Upper East Regional Police Command invited Kolog and Naab for a meeting and requested the two men to reconcile.
Police Professional Standards Bureau condemns donation
The Director of the Police Professional Standards Bureau (PPSB), Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Thomas Tindow, told The Fourth Estate it was inconsistent with the police professional standards for any law enforcer to accept donations from an individual who was reported to have offended the law. Accepting such gifts, he stressed, connoted bribery.
“How can an accused person come and donate to the police? You can’t do that. That means you are bribing them. As an accused person who has been charged for court, you are already alleged to be a criminal until otherwise disproved,” said ACP Tindow.
He added: “The police are not the final arbiter in criminal cases. It is the court. It is when the court says you are innocent that you are a good citizen. Then, you can donate. If you want to donate to the police, you must be a genuine person, with a good background.”
Executive Director of the Bureau of Public Safety (BPS), Nana Yaw Akwada, said he felt “scandalised” after seeing the images of Naab’s gunfire and donations to the police.
“It is very offensive that in 2022 in Ghana, a country that touts itself as the beacon of democracy in Africa, one small man can take on the entire state security with such ease and indecent fashion, and the State appears weak. The seemingly weak action by representatives of the central government in that part of town is not only an indictment on the state but also an affront to the rule of law,” he said.
“In any serious democracy, Parliament should be questioning the Interior Minister and the National Security Minister over such serious infractions that continue to offend the sensibilities and endanger the safety of well-meaning members of the Talensi community,” he added.
Defence and Interior Committee MP condemns donation
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Wa West and former Executive Secretary to the IGP, Peter Lanchene Toobu, said the police must thoroughly check the backgrounds of individuals and organisations before they welcomed any donations from them.
“Policing is affected so much by public perception. What the public perceives you to be has an impact on your performance. On this issue, even if the said Commando (Naab) has no criminal record, because of the public outcry in his area, the police should be conscious and cautious in dealing with him.
“It is professional for every police commander to do profiling of anybody who wants to donate to the police,” the MP, who is also a member of the Defence and Interior Committee in Parliament, told The Fourth Estate.