Conveners of the #FixTheCountry demonstration have said they will disregard an “unconstitutional conduct” of the police to the effect that they cannot proceed on their May 9 march due to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
The Accra Regional Police Command had indicated that it cannot permit the march after receiving the campaigners’ letter to that effect.
The conveners include Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor, Felicity Nelson, Efia Odo, Samuel Alesu-Dordzi, Della Russel Ocloo, Joshua Boye-Doe, Bashiratu Kamal-Muslim, Agyapong Forster, Adatsi Brownson and Benjamin Darko.
They are being supported by a host of stars and celebrities on social media.
The group said in its letter to the police that the event, which is a “single-purpose” one, “is being organised on the back of a string of consistently broken promises by successive governments; and in the exercise of our democratic rights as citizens to express our frustration over perennial governmental incompetence, refusal, and/or inability to fix the country”.
The organisers said they believe, “as does the president, that democracy is not a spectator sport”, adding: “We are committed to improving the substance of governance in this country by ensuring that the ordinary voices of Ghanaians provide a mechanism to hold elected officials accountable”.
“There comes a point where enough is enough. Just fix the Country!!! That’s our only message. We have had it with purposeful deceit and the absence of truth and genuine accountability in how this country is being governed”, the group said.
The letter explained that it chose 9 May because “it captures the restless spirit of over 126 Ghanaians who lost their lives in the May 9 Accra Sports Stadium disaster due to institutionalised incompetence and disregard for Ghanaian lives” and “secondly, the protest commemorates the 26-anniversary of the Kume Preko Demonstration of 11 May 1995.”
“Thus, the event draws inspiration from the undying culture of protest and dissent that have forged our democracy, and which Kume Preko has become a synonym for in our collective memory.”
They intend to march from the Black Star Square Accra to Maxmart at 37.
But, according to the Public Relations Officer of the Accra Regional Police Command, DSP Effia Tenge, the Public Order Act, which imposes a ban on public gatherings, especially due to the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrains the Command from sanctioning the #FixTheCountry demonstration.
“The notification to the police to organise a demonstration is provided by the Public Order Act and, so, once we receive a notification from any organiser or a group of people planning on such a demonstration, what we do as a command is to invite them, sit down, we look at the letter, look at the merits of the letter on such a demonstration,” she told Class News.
“If there's anything the police needs to take note of and advise the group as such; whether the letter, in a way, endangers public safety; whether the police has the numbers to protect the demonstrating public; we take all these into consideration and then the police decides what action to take based on the discussions between us and the groups who are intending to embark on this demonstration,” DSP Effia Tenge further noted.
However, Convener Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor told Class News: “Throughout November 2020 to January 2021, the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, continuously challenged any claims that political gatherings can lead to any increases in COVID-19 cases, so, we know that it is possible to organise public gatherings and public events and be COVID-compliant based on the government’s own account. So, we are sure that if public gatherings gathers thousands of people, including a voting exercise which entailed 13 million Ghanaians did not lead to a rise in infections, then in the same way in which we exercised our constitutional right to vote, we want to be able to exercise our constitutional right to hold the government to account through a conversation and this is what we want to do”.
“As far as we understand, the police has acted outside the bounds of law and we have a constitutional responsibility to disregard unconstitutional conduct. Now, in that process, within the Public Order Act, there’s a framework for dialogue with the police and we intend to use that dialogue to remind them why they do not have the right to do so. It’s a conversation”, he noted.
He said if the police deems it fit to proceed to court on the matter, then the group is more than ready to have that conversation, too.