Several prominent members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) have expressed their worries and criticized the Ghana Police Service’s handling of the peaceful rallies in the wake of the #OccupyJulorbiHouse protests and the ensuing illegal police actions.
Sharp criticisms have been leveled inside the NPP ranks in response to the Day 1 arrests of 49 demonstrators and the following maltreatment of the detainees.
Former President Kufuor
In order to achieve effective government and sustain peace and security, John Agyekum Kufuor has underlined his steadfast position on the value of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and free and fair elections.
He stressed the need of adhering to these ideals in a tweet on September 21, 2023, particularly in light of the continuing protests.
Kufour’s tweet read: “Respect for human rights, democracy, rule of law, coupled with free and fair elections are essential to good governance and development of peace and security everywhere.”
The National Youth Authority’s (NYA) deputy chief executive officer, Akosua Manu, criticized the police’s conduct during the demonstrations.
She highlighted that regardless of whether an injunction was in effect, the police were not authorized to treat the protesters illegally unjustly.
Manu stated, “Injunction or not, the police cannot treat young protestors in this manner. To protest is a right enshrined under the Constitution, and the legitimacy of a protest is not dependent on the cause. IGP Dampare, respectfully establish democratic order and safeguards the rights of the protestors.”
The NPP’s Director of Communication, Richard Ahiagbah, agreed that the right to demonstrate is a crucial democratic right.
He condemned the police for stopping the protesters and emphasized that such behavior was unacceptable.
Ahiagbah expressed his views, saying, “The ability of the people to demonstrate is an inherent democratic right. Therefore, the decision to stand in the way of citizens’ exercise of this fundamental right is unacceptable.”
In the other part of his tweet, he addressed the protesters: “I don’t agree with the derogatory caption of the Presidency by the organizers of the demonstration, but impeding their right to peaceful assembly is an affront to democracy–plain and simple.”
Ahiagbah continued by pointing out that peaceful protests had previously taken place during the presidency of President Akufo-Addo and questioned the timing and necessity of the police interventions during the most recent protests.
On the first day of the #OccupyJulorbiHouse protests organized by the Democracy Hub on September 21, a group of young activists were subject to unlawful actions by the police. These activists, numbering 49 in total, had taken to the streets to demand action against the prevailing economic crisis and corruption.
The illegal arrests, particularly in the manner in which they were carried out by the police, sparked widespread criticism. This criticism centered on the belief that these actions were obstructing the protesters’ constitutional right to assemble and voicing concerns, and that the police had resorted to heavy-handed tactics.
Subsequently, the police transported the detainees to the regional headquarters before dispersing them to approximately eight police stations scattered across the capital city. Throughout this process, fellow protesters and lawyers worked diligently to secure bail for those who had been unjustly detained.
During this tumultuous period, other journalists and protesters who had gathered, particularly at the Accra Regional Command, found themselves subjected to various forms of police aggression. This included shoving, unwarranted detention, confiscation of their phones, and, in some unfortunate instances, physical assault.
In their initial statement issued on the same day, the police defended the illegal arrests by citing the protesters’ alleged defiance of a court injunction. However, the protesters vehemently denied that they had been properly served with the legal notice.
In a subsequent statement, the police addressed the reported arrest of a BBC journalist and his cameraman, dismissing these reports as unfounded.
As the day came to a close, GhanaWeb’s investigations revealed that nearly all the unlawfully detained protesters had been released on bail. The question now lingers as to whether Day Two of the three-day protest, targeting the government’s seat, the Jubilee House, will proceed as planned on September 22, 2023.
“In partnership with ANDE, we are discussing and promoting the role of small and growing businesses in delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); because, as it stands now, we are not on track to meet the 2023 goals we set as a global community.
“Small and growing businesses have an important role to play in helping meet these goals. They are the engine of growth in Ghana and most developing countries of Africa. They have already contributed so much to Ghana’s economy by creating jobs; and if they can grow, then they can do so much more than we see now,” she said.