General News of Thursday, 7 February 2013

Source: peacefmonline

Awuku and Co should cooperate with the Police – Otchere Darko

Lawyer for the multi-party movement ‘Let My Vote Count Alliance,’ Gabby Otchere Darko has advised the members to cooperate with the Police in their on-going investigations.

Speaking on Okay FM’s “Ghana Decides” programme on Monday, Gabby Otchere Darko urged the group to assist the Police in their investigations in order not to foment trouble.

He admonished the group, saying; “In anyway they can, they should cooperate with (the) Police. Because we shouldn’t see the Police as our enemies, the Police shouldn’t also see the organizers or members as fomenting trouble.”

The Madina District Police Command, a couple of days ago, served the group with notice to appear for questioning following the launch of the movement.

The Leaders of the ‘Let My Vote Count Alliance,’ Sammy Awuku, a Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party, as well as the Deputy Communications Director of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Ernest Owusu-Bempah, Abu Ramadan of the People’s National Convention (PNC) and a member of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Charles Owusu, appeared before the Madina Police to face interrogation into their activities.

‘Let My Vote Count Alliance’ was formed to educate the Ghanaian populace about their right to insist that their votes reflect the outcome of any election. The group which has pledged allegiance to find out the truth in the outcome of the December polls, launched the movement last Tuesday, January 28, at the Dome in Accra.

The launch saw in attendance leading members of the NPP, NDP, PNC and NDP among others. The group lent their support to the opposition New Patriotic Party in their petition before the Supreme Court which seeks to challenge the 2012 election results and also aimed at making sure the Electoral Commission undergoes the necessary reforms.

But the aftermath of the inaugural ceremony saw the LMVC leaders being invited by the Police to clarify certain issues relating to formation of the alliance, its activities and particularly its inaugural ceremony at the Taifa Norway Park in the Dome-Kwabenya constituency.

According to reports, Sammy Awuku and his cohort were invited on grounds that they have breached the Public Order Act but the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Lawyer Gabby Otchere-Darko has denied the claims saying the movement is a platform for promoting freedom of speech.

He said the LMVC Alliance has only sought to “quench fires” in the country and therefore expressed their opinions about matters of national interest, which he added, are legitimate.

"We cannot criminalize freedom of speech. We cannot criminalize freedom of assembly…it is important that there are these platforms that can educate people," he said.

He charged the group to be undaunted in their quest for justice since they have a legitimate case in expressing themselves.

He however debunked reports that the invitees were made to give a caution statement.

He explained that; “the Police wanted them to give a statement. They said [they won’t] they have nothing to say. Their rights were read to them, they exercised their rights not to give a statement. They did not give a statement…the most important thing is that there was no arrest as far as I’m concerned. As far as I’m concerned, there was no caution. Police didn’t caution them [for breach of] , they haven’t been charged for breach of any law. They were called to help Police in their enquiry.”

Gabby Otchere-Darko appealed to state authorities to desist from interfering with the operations of the Police.

“Its important that we all work together. But those at the helm of affairs enjoining the police to get into all kinds of trouble should pull the breaks…we should exercise patience and give the Police room to work as the law requires.”

Sammy Awuku, speaking on “Ghana Decides”, also gave credence to the Counsel’s disclosure, stating that the Police during their enquiry misquoted the names of some attendees to the inaugural ceremony of the movement.

According to him, the Police made mention of the Convener of the Alliance and a member of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), who he said, was not present.

When asked whether they cringed in fear following their interrogation, Sammy Awuku noted that; “at every point in time, the coercive machinery of the State can be used to intimidate people,” so their encounter was just part of the course of struggle.