General News of Friday, 16 November 2012
Police personnel, Thursday afternoon besieged the offices of Buildmat, a private hardware and building materials store in Accra in an operation to seize printed materials they claim were meant to defame President John Mahama.
The police, who were said to be armed, had a search warrant signed by Supt Frank Coffie, Senior Police Officer at the Police CID, which permitted the armed men to enter the Spintex Road offices of the company to conduct the search.
Lawyer for the Company Nana Asante Bediatuo described the action by the police as wrong.
According to him, the men seized pen drives and other information materials from the workers of the company but returned them after he (Bediatuo) protested.
He said there is no where in the law that allows the police to enter into people’s private residences and offices to search for false materials meant to defame president.
“The whole thing seemed a bit strange. Here you are with an authority note from a senior police officer to come and look for a material. The material that they were looking for is not a crime to have that material. There is no criminal offence on our books which says you cannot have material that contains false information about the president, no matter how distasteful that might be. That is part of our democratic system," he explained.
“How are they going to tell what is false information and what is not?” he questioned.
He admitted though that the men had a warrant to search the premises, a warrant he said, permitted them to search for stolen goods and other goods dishonestly acquired.
Nana Asante Bediatuo said the content of the warrant and what the police man explained as reason for coming to the premises were at variance and initially asked them to return and come with the appropriate warrant.
He said knowing his client had nothing to hide, he allowed the police officers to embark on the search, found nothing, and left.
He said the action by the police is alarming and worrying especially when the country is inching close to the December elections.
The police he insisted cannot be let loose on residents with vague warrants and “put people in terror.”