The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo- Addo has appealed to Ghanaians to adhere to safety measures at his 7th address to the nation on the Covid-19 pandemic, including wearing of nose/face masks. NB. The President’s own was an appeal, which is in the right direction and which we must all adhere to as much as possible in the good interest of our country.
There’s however reports across the regions, after the directive, of people who are not wearing masks or having sanitizers being denied entry into the premises of some essential service providers, such as hospitals [health facilities], police stations and settlements, market places, etc. A reporter from Joy News interviewed a Mayor, and some heads of some essential service providers [departments] in Kumasi, who confirmed this.
Again, I just read a press statement from the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council, signed by the Regional Minister, making wearing of face masks in the Region compulsory or mandatory. I, however, didn’t read anywhere in the release that they were going to supply everybody, especially those who could not afford one with the masks. How do we enforce the mandatory wearing of something that has not been supplied to the people by the people issuing the statement?
As much as we all agree that the coronavirus is dangerous/deadly and poses a serious threat to our very existence, we must also take into consideration the sustainability of some of the things [directives/policies] we issue or put out and expect people to abide by them. Such directives should take into consideration the poor or the venerable in society. These masks that we are issuing statements and making wearing mandatory are disposable and very delicate. Now the question is how many Ghanaians can afford to buy dozens of such face masks? And change them hourly, daily, etc.,?
Another concern is that the President did not make it mandatory for all Ghanaians to wear masks; he would have captured that in the Executive Instrument [E. I] and make it mandatory [a law]. So those institutions that are turning away people who are not wearing face masks or having hand sanitizers away from accessing their facilities are not doing all of us any good. To the extent that hospitals are also turning away people who go to access health care is very dangerous and must not be encouraged. We must bear in mind that there are diseases that are killing hundreds of Ghanaians, more faster than coronavirus on daily basis. So to turn away someone entering a health facility for medical assistance for not wearing face mask should be the last thing someone should think about. To prevent someone from entering a police station / settlement/department to lodge a complaint or seek police assistance for not adhering to a directive that is not backed by any law in itself is an unlawful act. Unless you have provided the person with one and he/she refuses to wear it… that one will be a bit understandable.
#ENFORCEMENT; I hear people say the directive should be strictly enforced, because it is in the good interest of all of us. But the question is how do we enforce a directive that is not backed by any law? What happens if someone is arrested in Accra tomorrow for not wearing a face mask? Which law is going to be used to prosecute the person?
My advice to colleague law enforcement officers is that whenever such directives, that are not backed by any law are given, we must not be the ones putting our career on the line, trying to enforce them. The same politicians who issue such directives will be the very people who will call for your head, if it backfires. The precedents are there to guide us. Let’s use our discretion. Let us take our personal protection seriously, as we keep educating the public on the importance of adhering to the precautionary measures.
Until authorities who are issuing such directives and making them mandatory or compulsory provide such face masks to everyone who could not afford one within their regions, or back it by any law, such directives must be taken as advice and must be considered as such.
Let me once more reiterate the point, that wearing of masks is a good thing and must be encouraged. But if “the there is not there, you can’t force the there to be there”
Humbly submitted for consideration and publication.
G/Cpl Christopher K. Kpeli
Koforidua Police Training School