Press Releases of Monday, 8 August 2011

Source: Anlo Youth Council

The IGP Should Call His Men To Order

For Immediate Release

Press Statement: The Igp Should Call His Men To Order

Accra - August 5, 2011 -The recent posturing of the police in the Volta Region, especially in hounding, intimidating, attacking, and finally arresting the leaders of the NDC Youth for Action Group is in bad taste and must be condemned by all and sundry.

Anlo Youth Council (AYC) therefore is asking on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to call his men in the Volta Region to order before they are overtaken by events. The days when police officers were laws unto themselves and in a show of bravado could tell law abiding citizens ‘I will show you where the power lies,’ are indeed over and they must regard that epoch as an awful chapter in our history.

The police as an institution appear to have failed to instil professionalism and modern policing methods into this human institution to make them responsive to the needs of the people. Rather, they act beholden to the political leadership and are malleable to political manipulations and intrigue. The higher echelons of the police leadership should be cognisant of “BEST PRACTICES” as well as global trends in policing, to chart a better course for the institution. Current world events are clear pointers to the way forward for this institution and therefore any police officer who abuses the very people he or she is paid to protect should not go scot-free. The Police are recruited from among the people, paid by the people to protect the people according to the law made by the people.

AYC offers this advice against the backdrop of the conduct of the police across the country in general and in the Volta Region in particular. The illegal activities of the police in Anloga on November 1, 2007, which led to the death of four persons and a police officer, and the maiming of several innocent citizens, are still fresh in the minds of the people. Other incidents that readily come to mind include the killing of a young man in the residence of the former Volta Regional Minister, Mr. Kofi Dzameshie, and the recent torture of a suspect to death in police cells in Hohoe.

While all these issues are unresolved and the families of those killed are still awaiting answers from a state which has responsibility to provide answers for the killings, all we are seeing is another attempt to intimidate, attack, and cower the people into submission, especially under the leadership of a law professor. We on our part are not surprised at these turn of events since police officers like Bernard Guyiri Dery, in the case of the Volta Region, and others in the murder of Alhaji Mobila still walk around freemen, in the face of their grievous crimes against humanity. There can only be one outcome – lawlessness and unprofessionalism among the police.

The issue of the brutal police attack on a small group of unarmed demonstrators in Ho on Wednesday August 3, 2011, spells doom for our civil liberties. It is unfortunate that this event is occurring at a very crucial juncture in our relationship with the state (when campaigns and elections are just around the corner with increased parochial political activities and interests from all sides). This is happening only because citizens are expressing their God-given and constitutionally guaranteed liberties of free speech and assembly.

For the benefit of the reader, these are excerpts from six national newspapers the morning after the brutal attacks and the arrests:

Daily Graphic
NDC Youth Demonstrate Against Minister, MCE
1. ‘A team of armed police from the Volta Regional Police Headquarters yesterday dispersed a group of youth who were on a peaceful demonstration….’
5. ‘The march went on peacefully for close to two hours until just about a few metres from the premises of the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) where they intended to present a petition, a team of armed policemen descended heavily on them….’
6. ‘In the process, twelve people including one lady were arrested while some were beaten up by the police.’
7. ‘Media persons who witnessed the action were warned by the police not to take pictures of the incident.’

Daily Guide
NDC Sacks Demo Boys. After Police Arrests
1.’ It was a game of ‘survival of the fittest’ as some national democratic congress (NDC) youth and activists with the group Volta NDC Youth for Action were scattered, heckled and arrested by the police…’
2. ‘The demonstration which started peacefully from RTC Park in Ho through the principal streets was only disrupted at about 1:40 pm by the police a few metres away from the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) where they intended to present their petition…’
25. ‘He (Alhaji Bello sic.) said the action of the police was unfortunate because they had sought permission already and that the police told them they could go ahead but they could not guarantee their security if anything happened...’

Police Crack Down on Demonstrators
1. ‘A much- publicised demonstration organised by the Youth for Action Group, a pressure organisation allegedly affiliated to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Volta Regional capital, Ho, came to an abrupt end yesterday after armed policemen descended heavily on the defenceless demonstrators and arrested their leaders…’
3. ‘The demonstration began peacefully from the RTC Park near the Ho main market, through the principal streets of the town…’
4. ‘The otherwise peaceful event turned into chaos from an attack by the police when the demonstrators got to the Municipal Hospital Road which is about 300 metres from the Regional Coordinating Council…’
5. ‘In the confusion, the leaders of the demonstration together with other members of the group were arrested and pushed into a Police vehicle…’
6. ‘Mr. Ametor, a 68 year old man who could not hide his disappointment with the police, stressed that it seems the government led by President Mills, was gradually introducing what he called ‘the culture of silence,’ to the extent that people could no longer express their views about governance issues in a region that normally supports the ruling party.’

The Enquirer:
Violent Street Protest at Ho.
Ex- NDC Chair and others in Police Grips
7. ‘The Statement explained that the demonstrations was not against the Government, but rather to bring to the fore some bitter feelings of the people of the Volta Region, despite their unflinching support for the Party.’

The New Palaver
The New Palaver reported a press conference, which the Hon. Regional Minister, Joseph Amenorwode, had held to rebut the slag in development as observed by the President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs and Paramount Chief of Asogli, TogbiAfede and the Paramount Chief of Gbi Traditional Area, Togbega Gabusu, earlier on MondayAugust 1, 2011. It is interesting to note that the concerns of the Togbiwo were congruent with the demonstrating youth.

Ghanaian Lens
And to reinforce the position of the Chiefs and people of the Volta Region, the Ghanaian Lens reported on Thursday August 4, 2011 that the paramount chief of Avatime asserts that the role of the Chiefs are no longer for ceremonies. The Osie of Avatime, AdzaTekpor VII decreed that the days when chiefs used to be ceremonial leaders are gone and called on chiefs in the country and the traditional area in particular to strive for development for their communities. Earlier, the Chief of Amedzofe, Okusie Akyem Foli V also spoke about development.

A Critical Analysis
By the evening of Thursday the evidence was on television and the following conclusions could be made from the pictures.
• The group of demonstrators were small, cheerful, non violent, organized and well behaved.
• They had cheers and encouragement from the public.
• There was no profanity or insults on the placards seen on television.
• It was a free entertaining Borborbor street ‘jammer’ much more than a demonstration.
• The demonstrators were no threat to peace, people, property, traffic and ‘government business’
• And in corroboration of the evidence in the printed media, after the demonstrators had sung, danced and made merry for over two hours and covered a distance of over 4km, the Police now decides that while they are within 15 minutes and 300m from the office of the Regional Administartion, it MUST become chaotic, violent and injurious.

All the above quoted news reports (both state and private media) agree that the demonstration, which started peacefully and continued peacefully, was peaceful until the police set upon the group. All of the above reports indicate that the police, without provocation, attacked the demonstrators. Set against the assertion of Alhaji Bello that the police gave them permission albeit with a caveat that (they police) cannot guarantee the safety of the demonstrators speaks volumes. It is clear to critical thinking Ghanaians the political authorities in the Region engineered the police action to hide their incompetence and to use the occasion for the arrest and intimidation of any opposition within their party. Sad to say, the police did the bidding of their masters against the larger interest of the Ghanaian citizenry, the ultimate paymaster whose blood and toil puts food on the table of the police as well as the clothes on their backs and the backs of their children.

Again the skein from which the events above are woven are becoming clearer as engineered denunciations of the demonstrators, increasingly and unashamedly are being linked to serious observations of Chiefs and Paramountcies of the Volta Region on developments in the region. Ghanaians are being told, it appears, that we cannot discern or think for ourselves what governance is about much less determine good governance from the bad.

The AYC simply wishes to warn that this type of unalloyed partisan political chicanery, which intimidates and attacks personalities for voicing out their discent, will not wash and indeed has never worked in the Volta Region. President Mills should rather be wary of hurriedly arranged denunciations coming from groups of chiefs and praise-singers living off the largesse of the taxpayer.

A Yawning Gap
The brute force being demonstrated by the political authority through the use of state machinery, cannot solve the widening gorge between the chiefs and the people of the Volta region on the one part and the region’s administrators and the security services on the other. Clearly, the administration and the security apparatus are on borrowed time, opportunity and pleasure. In this bliss, they cannot and must not allow their fantasies to fool them.

Power, and ultimately, perpetual sovereign power, remains with the people and nobody else. At this point, it will suffice to remind those who think change is not possible that they are sure set for a rude awakening. Until the morning after it will be too late for them to realize that their mid-summer night’s dream was not for real. ‘Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable,’ according to a now hackneyed political quote.

In the words of ACP Mr. Kofi Boakye, the police trainer, recently on TV, ‘a mob acts like a tsunami. No tank or armour can stop it or let alone direct where, how, and who it would affect.’ To add to this admonition, AYC would like to state that while the real tsunami is unpredictable, social scientists could tell when the people are agitated and when dissent is loud and clear.

Mr. President, let those shouting deception around you shut up, so you can hear clearly the humble voice of dissent coming from the Volta Region and other places across the country. We are all aware you cannot satisfy all Ghanaians, but we believe you appreciate that the onus is on you to show probity, accountability and fairness in the distribution of our collective resources, rights and responsibilities, then everyone can quietly await their due in peace. Again, Mr. President, please refuse to buy into the spin-doctoring and propaganda being bandied around. Development is a people’s issue; they see it, feel it and know it as best as they can. If they tell you they are hungry, better listen to them. Be not in haste to point to them what you think they need to eat. It is akin to saying “go and eat kokonte.”

While we wait for Mr. President, the Asomdwehene’s statement on these unwarranted arrests in his name, AYC demands an unqualified apology from the Regional Police Command for assault, dereliction of duty, and for deceit of the public. Nsuo betoa, mframa na ‘dikan!

President, Secretary
Mayor Agbleze (024-4584835) P.Y. Tsikata (024-9045397)

All Media Outlets
The Volta Regional House of Chiefs