The national youth organiser of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr George Opare Addo, has said the Ghana Police Service, at a meeting on Friday, 2 July 2021, “withdrew” its “earlier letter that they sent to us” saying they cannot provide security for the party’s ‘march for justice’ event “and they’ve agreed that it’s our legal right to demonstrate, so, they will provide the necessary protection that we need for the demonstration”.
“What we did at the meeting is that we agreed the routes we’ll be using for the demonstration”, Mr Opare Addo said this on a radio programme in Accra monitored by Ashantibiz on Friday, 2 July 2021.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr James Oppong-Boanuh, wrote to the leadership of the youth wing of the NDC on Friday and invited them for the meeting at 4 pm.
The letter, signed by the Director-General/Operations of the Ghana Police Service, COP Kwaku Boadu-Peprah, said: “The Inspector-General of Police respectfully requests a meeting with the leadership of the demonstration, today, 2 July 2021, at 4:00 pm at the national police headquarters, Accra, for further discussion on security implications and arrangements for the intended demonstration”.
Prior to the meeting with the IGP, The youth wing had warned that it would defy a no-demonstration order by the police and proceed with the march on 6 July.
The group wrote to the Ghana Police Service informing it about the march in a letter on 30 June 2021.
The letter, signed by the NDC’s national youth organiser, Mr George Opare Addo, indicated that “this protest is to demand justice for all persons killed and brutalised by state-sponsored thuggery and/or adventurism by police and military forces”.
But the Ghana Police Service, in a letter signed by the Greater Accra Regional Commander, DCOP E. A. Sakyi stated: “The Accra Regional Police Command acknowledged receipt of your letter dated 30th June 2021 on the above subject matter [‘A March For Justice’ demonstration and street protest] and wish to inform you that restrictions imposed by the Executive Instrument (E.I) 395 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has still not been lifted.
“The Regional Command also refers you to section 4 of the Public Order Act 1994 (ACT 49) particularly concerning Public Health”.
“The Command, therefore, cannot provide you with the needed security during your intended demonstration and street protest please,” the letter added.
But in a counter-statement signed by Mr Opare Addo on 1 July 2021, the group indicated that the police does not have the legal right to restrain them from embarking on the demonstration.
“The general public is hereby informed that section 4 of Act 491 specifically clothes the Minister for the Interior with the power to impose a curfew in the country, and so far as we are concerned, no part of Accra is under curfew for which reason demonstration cannot be held as the police erroneously want us to believe”.
The statement continued: “The weakest of all reasons cited by the police was its reference to EI 395 in its letter. For the records, EI 395 was birthed on the strength of section 2 of the Imposition of Restriction Act, 2020 (Act 1012) and gazetted on December 23, 2020.
“It is instructive to note that section 4 of Act 1012 provides for ‘a restriction imposed under subsection (1) of the section (2)’ and shall be for a period of not more than three months. If the police was not meticulous and not preoccupied with petty partisan politics, it would have known that EI 395 expired in March 2021. In effect, there is no law as EI 395 to be adhered to”.
“We want to inform the general public, who have received notice of the ‘A MARCH FOR JUSTICE’ street protest with enthusiasm and eagerness that there is no law which gives the Ghana Police Service the power to stop demonstrations or protests”.
“In other words, the power to stop lawful demonstration does not rest with the police”.
“We have taken a decision to stand in for the several young people at the mercy of the injustices of the system; with lost hopes, no jobs, no opportunities and yet being killed and oppressed. The government must work for the generality of the people whose taxes finance the luxurious living and wishes of a select few in the public service,” the statement added.