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Opinions of Friday, 19 July 2013

Columnist: Asamoah-Siaw, Kofi

The Continuous Detention of Fire Suspects is a Big Shame!

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

Yesterday, the court failed once again to grant bail to the two fire suspects, Yakubu Tahiru, 28 and Fatau Ibrahim, 22 because the prosecution failed to present the suspected arsonists before the court. It is a shame that State officials who are entrusted with the responsibility to protect all citizens have sacrificed individual rights in the pursuit of government's partisan propaganda. The lack or the non-existence of credible evidence gathered by the police cannot be a justifiable grounds to continuously detain the suspects.

The NDC government now has eggs on its face. The fires are occurring even when the suspected arsonists are still kept in police custody. We cannot reduce everything in this country to partisan political propaganda. The cause of these fires is simple; the complete negligence of successive governments to provide enough economic and social amenities to match the increasing population growth. Decongest the markets and build modern facilities for our traders and the fires will stop. Propaganda by government's Ministers of Information is not a panacea to the fire menace. Taking the path of least resistance is not an option.

The PPP strongly agrees with the lawyer for the suspects that their continuous detention is a violation of their fundamental human rights. It is our expectation that the courts will enforce the rights of individuals as enshrined under chapter five of the 1992 Constitution. It was precisely because of situations like we have now, where State officials violate individual rights with impunity, that the courts were mandated to protect and enforce the fundamental human rights of all citizens including Fatau Ibrahim and Tahiru Yakubu.

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.

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?

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 condemn the path taken by the prosecution and respectfully call on civil society groups to do same as a demonstration of our abhorrence against incompetence, unnecessary partisanship and the flagrant abuse of public office even in a democratic Ghana. Our motto as a nation-state is "Freedom and Justice" and yet some people cannot access justice and have their freedoms guaranteed.

We owe it a duty to ourselves, our children and the unborn generation to build a just and prosperous society where individuals are treated not as second class citizens because of their political affiliation, gender, class, level of education and so on, but are treated as human beings with respect and dignity.

We are wide awake and watching.

Kofi Asamoah-Siaw National Secretary.