Private legal practitioner Martin Kpebu has voiced his frustration over the conduct of the police regarding the #OccupyJulorbiHouse protest that took place on Thursday, September 21.
Mr Kpebu described the police’s actions as lawless for arresting protestors who took part in the demonstration against what they perceived as high-level corruption, unemployment, and mismanagement of the economy.
According to him, the Ghana Police Service, particularly the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akuffo Dampare had shown a lack of restraint.
“They were just acting lawlessly; the Ghana Police Service were just lawless; IGP Dampare lost it, he just showed that it’s his initial showmanship.
“It was a matter of time before he showed his colours that look, he was working with corrupt Akufo-Addo, that’s all that it was. Let me protect corrupt Akufo-Addo so that my position would also be protected, that’s all that Dampare just sort to do.
“When Dampare came, people were just shouting new sheriff in town, new sheriff in town, I said I would wait, I would just wait, now you see how things are falling,” he said.
His assertion was in response to the arrest of 49 demonstrators by the police on Thursday during the #OccupyJulorBiHouse demonstration, alleging they had indulged in an unlawful assembly and violation of the Public Order Act.
The police noted that the arrested persons disregarded court documents served on the organisers, Democracy Hub, to refrain from embarking on the planned demonstration.
Speaking on the police’s interference during the initial day of the demonstration, Mr Kpebu asserted that the police made a grave mistake by arresting the protestors.
He questioned, “What was the basis for their arrest? If you wanted to arrest, the law requires reasonable suspicion of having committed an offense when there is a reasonable offense. Where is the offense they’ve committed?”
Kpebu further contended that the police’s actions represented a significant setback in Ghana’s progress toward a better democracy, emphasising the police’s alleged lawlessness in this matter.
He questioned why, if the police could muster 500 officers to prevent the demonstration at the Jubilee House, but could not have provided security for the protestors to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully.
“The matter you [the police] are talking about is before the court, you say you have filed an application for injunction so there’s also an obligation on the police not to do anything to render the proceedings venality so that’s why the remedy would have been that, look if they flout the application for injunction – and in law, I subscribe to this case in the view that once you are served, you are to stop.
“So the police had to gather their evidence and then file an application for contempt but not to arrest. That subsequent barefaced lie or wrong law that they were doing is wrong. That unlawful assembly can’t apply in this case,” he argued.
The lawyer cited the Public Order Act and stated that the appropriate procedure was outlined in the law. He explained that if the protestors did not comply with the orders, the next step the police should have taken was to go to court, not to make arrests.
He continued “So if you’ve gone to court and somebody appears to be violating it, then you will go and apply for contempt, so naturally, if they were to do anything that was untoward – causing damage to properties or begin to commit any offence, then that one you would arrest and say look, you were damaging properties, you were doing XYZ but this one as they themselves admit, they just led themselves to the slaughter, plenty strike, in which democracy, Kwame Nkrumah Ghana, oh the Police have goofed, they’ve goofed.”