The Supreme Court of Ghana has set 8 June 2021 to hear a case filed by the #FixTheCountry campaigners who are seeking to overturn a high court injunction on their intended Sunday, 9 May 2021 anti-government demonstration.
In a statement, the group said: “As you may have heard, yesterday, the 6th of May 2021, the Ghana Police Service obtained an order prohibiting us from exercising our rights under the 1992 Constitution to embark on the planned May 9 Protest”.
“The order was granted to the police despite an existing decision by a judge of the Court of Appeal saying that the police cannot seek nor obtain an order to prohibit a protest without notifying the organisers”.
It continued: “Earlier today, our lawyers, working through the night, filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking to set aside the defective order made by the High Court Judge. It was our hope that, in view of the urgency of the matter, and having regard to the grave injustice caused, extraordinary measures will be taken to expedite the hearing of the matter, to enable us to proceed with the protest on Sunday, May 9th”.
However, the group announced, “we have just received news that the Supreme Court has fixed the hearing for 8th June 2021”.
“We are naturally disappointed by this decision, but we continue to place our faith in the courts. As a result, we shall, at the earliest opportunity, file an application for abridgement of time, with the hope that the court will hear the matter at an earlier date”, the group said, adding: “We shall update you in a few hours on our next cause of action regarding the protest. We assure you all that we will not relent, retreat nor surrender”.
The court granted the restraining order saying: “It is, hereby, ordered that the organisers/conveners of Fixthecountry protest march, their associates, officers, agents, assigns, and workmen are prohibited from embarking on any demonstration on Sunday, 9 May 2021, or any other date until the restriction on public gatherings is lifted by the appropriate authority.
The conveners had earlier said they would disregard an “unconstitutional conduct” of the police to the effect that they cannot proceed on their march due to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
The Accra Regional Police Command had indicated that it could not permit the march after receiving the campaigners’ letter to that effect.
The conveners include Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor, Felicity Nelson, Efia Odo, Samuel Alesu-Dordzi, Della Russel Ocloo, Joshua Boye-Doe, Bashiratu Kamal-Muslim, Agyapong Forster, Adatsi Brownson and Benjamin Darko.
They are being supported by a host of stars and celebrities on social media.
The group said in its letter to the police that the event, which is a “single-purpose” one, “is being organised on the back of a string of consistently broken promises by successive governments; and in the exercise of our democratic rights as citizens to express our frustration over perennial governmental incompetence, refusal, and/or inability to fix the country”.
The organisers said they believe, “as does the president, that democracy is not a spectator sport”, adding: “We are committed to improving the substance of governance in this country by ensuring that the ordinary voices of Ghanaians provide a mechanism to hold elected officials accountable”.
“There comes a point where enough is enough. Just fix the Country!!! That’s our only message. We have had it with purposeful deceit and the absence of truth and genuine accountability in how this country is being governed”, the group said.
The letter explained that it chose 9 May because “it captures the restless spirit of over 126 Ghanaians who lost their lives in the May 9 Accra Sports Stadium disaster due to institutionalised incompetence and disregard for Ghanaian lives” and “secondly, the protest commemorates the 26-anniversary of the Kume Preko Demonstration of 11 May 1995.”
“Thus, the event draws inspiration from the undying culture of protest and dissent that have forged our democracy, and which Kume Preko has become a synonym for in our collective memory.”
They intend to march from the Black Star Square Accra to Maxmart at 37.
But, according to the Public Relations Officer of the Accra Regional Police Command, DSP Effia Tenge, the Public Order Act, which imposes a ban on public gatherings, especially due to the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrains the Command from sanctioning the #FixTheCountry demonstration.
“The notification to the police to organise a demonstration is provided by the Public Order Act and, so, once we receive a notification from any organiser or a group of people planning on such a demonstration, what we do as a command is to invite them, sit down, we look at the letter, look at the merits of the letter on such a demonstration,” she told Class News.
“If there’s anything the police needs to take note of and advise the group as such; whether the letter, in a way, endangers public safety; whether the police has the numbers to protect the demonstrating public; we take all these into consideration and then the police decides what action to take based on the discussions between us and the groups who are intending to embark on this demonstration,” DSP Effia Tenge further noted.
However, Convener Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor told Class News: “Throughout November 2020 to January 2021, the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, continuously challenged any claims that political gatherings can lead to any increases in COVID-19 cases, so, we know that it is possible to organise public gatherings and public events and be COVID-compliant based on the government’s own account. So, we are sure that if public gatherings gathers thousands of people, including a voting exercise which entailed 13 million Ghanaians did not lead to a rise in infections, then in the same way in which we exercised our constitutional right to vote, we want to be able to exercise our constitutional right to hold the government to account through a conversation and this is what we want to do”.
“As far as we understand, the police has acted outside the bounds of law and we have a constitutional responsibility to disregard unconstitutional conduct. Now, in that process, within the Public Order Act, there’s a framework for dialogue with the police and we intend to use that dialogue to remind them why they do not have the right to do so. It’s a conversation”, he noted.
He said if the police deems it fit to proceed to court on the matter, then the group is more than ready to have that conversation, too.
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