Story: Yaw Takyi
The Police have arrested Ghanaian citizens who massed up at the 37 station in Accra to join members of the pressure group Democracy Hub in their #OccupyJulorBiHouse protest.
The Ghana Police Service had previously alleged that they had filed an application in court and successfully served Democracy Hub in connection with the group’s planned demonstration at the Jubilee House from Thursday, 21st to Saturday, 23rd September 2023.
Democracy Hub had earlier informed the Ghana Police Service of their intention to hold a demonstration on Nkrumah Memorial Day, with the aim of urging the President and the Economic Management Team to address economic mismanagement and government corruption issues.
The group also expressed their opposition to the proposed military intervention in Niger and other government policies.
In a recurring pattern, the Police Service sought an injunction against the protest on the eve of the event.
In response to the police statement, Democracy Hub accused the police of maintaining a facade throughout their engagement, suggesting they would abide by the law and fulfill their obligations under the Public Order Act.
However, on Thursday morning, the Police in full gear positioned themselves at the 37 station and anyone they suspected was part of the protesters was arrested and whisked away in a police vehicle.
Meanwhile the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has condemned the arrest of protesters who were demonstrating against the government .
In a statement, the NDC General Secretary, Fifi Kwetey described the arrest of the protesters as shameful and a violation of their fundamental rights.
“The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has learned with great disappointment the brutality meted out on the Occupy Jubilee House protesters in the early hours of today. The NDC is saddened by such crude tactics being deployed by the Police at a time when the IGP is being applauded for making efforts toward transforming the Ghana Police Service into the best institution in the country.
“This shameful show of brute force runs counter to that. It’s regrettable the police would think that violence and suppression of human rights is the best way to address issues”, the statement said. .
Another group that has also condemned the police actions is Lawyers In Search Of Democracy (LINSOD).
The group in a statement copied to the media noted that the organizers of the demonstration, who were Ghanaian citizens and belong to the groups, “Democracy Hub” and “Fix the Country,” had duly informed the police of their planned demonstration and routes in accordance with the Public Order Act, 1994 (Act 491) of Ghana.
“Our further information is that there was a healthy interaction between the organizers of the demonstration and the police, which suggested that the demonstration was going to be smooth and successful. Subsequently however, the police, as is usual and very common with them under President Nana Akufo Addo’s regime, ran to court with an application for injunction against the demonstration at the eleventh hour”, the statement said.
According to the statement there were conflicting accounts as to whether or not the application for injunction, as filed, had been served on the organizers of the demonstration.
“It is clear however, that the application has not been heard and granted by any court. As such, there is no court order restraining the intended demonstration. In light of the absence of any court order against the demonstration, the organizers and some of their followers had earlier this morning began to amass at their intended starting point, in readiness to embark on their peaceful demonstration”, it indicated.
The statement added: “Unfortunately, we have learned that the police rushed in with buses to arrest the organizers, alleging that they were about to embark on an illegal demonstration. We have learned that those arrested have been distributed to various police stations in the capital and our lawyers are combing the city to locate them and provide legal services for them to secure their release. “We unreservedly condemn the conduct of the police, as same is unlawful and lawless. It is so because there is no such thing as “illegal demonstration” under the Public Order Act, particularly, in the absence of a court order that bars the demonstration. There is also no authority for the police under the Public Order Act to arrest and detain citizens who are on peaceful demonstration and have not damaged any public property; caused harm to persons or other property; or obstructed pedestrian or vehicular traffic