It is painful for me, as a Ghanaian working at the United Nations – a global institution where many Ghanaians, including the venerable Kofi Annan, have excelled and given distinguished service – to hear at our daily Noon Briefing, questions about the more than 40 Ghanaian police personnel who have been SHAMEFULLY and prematurely repatriated to Ghana from South Sudan over confirmed charges of sexual exploitation and abuse.
These questions are being raised less than two hours after I watched proudly as my nephew, Eganam Segbefia, played the Last Post beautifully but solemnly on his trumpet at a ceremony in the ECOSOC Chamber here at UNHQ, honouring and celebrating those peacekeepers who have paid the ultimate price in helping others through UN peacekeeping. I was also proud to see one of our admirable Ghanaian sisters, Wing Commander Theodora Agornyo, fully dressed in air force uniform as she helped to organise this event.
For many decades now, Ghanaian peacekeepers, especially our gallant, dedicated, and admirable women and men in the military have served in many UN missions around the world and acquitted themselves well. I was in the audience at the State House Banquet Hall in early July 2014, when Rwandan President Paul Kagame praised and applauded General Henry Kwami Anyidoho and the brave Ghanaian troops he commanded during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. At a time when Western nations pulled their troops out of Rwanda, General Anyidoho managed, against all odds, to keep Ghanaian troops in Rwanda even as the genocide raged and the lives of his troops came under many threats. The Ghanaian military personnel who stayed on in Rwanda did a great and unheralded job in saving hundreds of Rwandan lives. President Kagame’s recognition was in order. They made Ghana proud wearing the UN blue helmets.
This is why the disgraceful conduct of these police personnel, who were assigned to a UN Protection of Civilians site in Wau, north-west of Juba, South Sudan, must be fully and promptly investigated by Ghana’s Police hierarchy. Those Ghanaian police officers confirmed to have sexually abused, assaulted, or exploited the South Sudanese women and girls they were supposed to protect and assist, must be sanctioned and disciplined or prosecuted as the rules demand. It has been stated that less than ten Ghanaian police personnel from a 46-strong unit, had engaged in transactional sex with women or girls in Wau. For the sake of the innocent majority in this group, those found guilty must be brought to book. The image of Ghana is at stake. The United Nations and indeed the whole world are expecting Ghana to act. The future participation and reputation of ALL Ghanaian peacekeepers is at stake.
This sordid affair is the main reason why many genuine, decent, and conscientious Ghanaians have always asked members of the Ghana Police to conduct themselves well at home. Charity, they say, begins at home. My Ewe people have a saying that translates, “The goat that recklessly breaks pots in-house or at home, will one day end up breaking pots outside – for the world to see.” These police personnel cannot be quietly and shamelessly re-integrated back into the Ghana Police. The Ghana Police leadership must act expeditiously to ensure the hard-earned and admirable reputation of all of Ghana peacekeeping and ALL Ghanaians, which has been attained over many decades of sacrifice and service, does not get permanently tarnished.
GHANAIANS ARE DEFINITIVELY MUCH MUCH BETTER THAN WHAT WE HAVE SEEN OF THESE POLICE PERSONNEL IN SOUTH SUDAN.