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General News of Monday, 23 August 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

It’s bogus to claim we breached Public Order Act – Chale Wote organisers

Mantse Aryeequaye, curator of Chale Wote is in police custody Mantse Aryeequaye, curator of Chale Wote is in police custody

The curator of Chale Wote, Mantse Aryeequaye, has rubbished a claim by the Ghana Police Service that he and his colleagues flouted the Public Order Act, hence their arrest.

Mantse Aryeequaye and two others, Nii Aryee and Ampem Darko (Ananse) were on Saturday, August 21, apprehended by the police at the Ussher Fort at Jamestown when the event was being held. They were subsequently sent to the Accra Regional Police Command.

This was after a communication from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) that the 2021 edition of the street art festival will be a virtual event due to the upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

On the back of reports that the arrest was effected when the event was being held indoors with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, the Public Relations Officer of the Accra Regional Police Command, DSP Juliana Obeng, was quoted by citinewsroom.com to have said organisers beached the Public Order Act.

“The command sighted the advert for this festival and invited the organisers for a meeting, and I am told the organisers never turned up. So yesterday [Saturday], we picked intelligence to the effect that the organizers were already preparing the place for the event. The police then moved in to arrest the three persons,” the quote attributed to DSP Obeng read.

Mantse Aryeequaye, however, is contradicting the police, describing the claim as bogus.

“I have read the police statement that we defied the public order and that is a very bogus claim,” he said in a statement to GhanaWeb.

According to him, they had conversations with the police and other stakeholders on how the event would be held and had the green light. Consequently, they were taken aback when the police stormed the venue and arrested them.

He said: “The Jamestown commander Teiku informed us about a meeting and on Wednesday, we met the commander at Central Police Station and he said we have to cancel the concert. But we said we are engaging the relevant stakeholders; they said they won't provide us security but will send plain clothes police to observe if we are respecting the covid protocols. Everything was in place, all the Veronica bucket etc. and it was indoors at the Ussher Fort. The police cannot say they arrested us because we were doing outdoor event.”

Mantse Aryeequaye has accused the police of vandalizing “equipment wealth thousands of dollars that we hired for the virtual streaming”.

While mentioning that they “haven’t been charged”, Mantse quoted the police as saying “an order from above” says they should be in custody.

“These guys are just funny and if whoever is behind this thinks he can use his office to collapse a festival that I had spent my time on, then he's joking,” Mantse cautioned.

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