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Opinions of Friday, 12 July 2013

Columnist: Asamoah-Siaw, Kofi

Continuous Detention of Fire Suspects Unjustified

The Progressive People's Party has learnt with grave concern the continuous detention of two fire suspects for their alleged activities resulting in the Makola and Kantamanto markets.

Media reports indicate that, yesterday was the third time the suspected arsonists Yakubu Tahiru, 28 and Fatau Ibrahim, 22 were brought before a Circuit Court Judge. The presiding judge, Mr. Francis Obiri refused to grant the suspect bail but granted the prosecution's request for more time to complete investigations.

The PPP strongly believes with the lawyer for the suspects that the continuous detention of the suspected arsonists is a violation of their fundamental human rights. As the presiding judge is reported to have said, the prosecution cannot rely on an inconclusive investigation on their part to request for the continuous detention of the suspects.

The prosecution, together, with the police, should have had reasonable basis to cause the arrest and subsequent arraignment of the suspects before the court. The situation where suspects are hurriedly arrested and arraigned before the courts without proper and thorough investigations cannot be allowed to continue. The police cannot hide behind the "conduct of investigations" to violate people's right with impunity. The courts are mandated under the 1992 Constitution to enforce the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.

In this case, the police and the prosecution, in a bid to support the NDC's government propaganda that the fires were caused by political opponents hurriedly organized an arrest of the two suspects without evidence. If the prosecution is now requesting for more time to conclude investigations, then on what basis were the suspects arrested?

We are happy to note that the presiding judge expressed his displeasure at the conduct of the prosecution for the continuous request for more time.

The police and the State's prosecution system cannot be used to serve the parochial agenda of governments or be used as surrogates and instruments of oppression to further sustain the vile propaganda by government functionaries.

We respectfully call on civil society to condemn such conduct by security operatives who only seek to please their political masters in such circumstances. We have the State and the government; the former is mightier than the latter. It is our expectation that State institutions constantly act in the interest of the State and not sacrifice individual liberties for the pursuit of government propaganda.

Our motto indeed is "Freedom and Justice" and so all public servants must be guided by this virtue.

We are wide awake and watching.

Kofi Asamoah-Siaw National Secretary.