Leading member of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) and Managing Editor of The Insight, Mr. Kwesi Pratt, has told GO that by the Public Order Law, the Police has no right to deny the CJA the right to organise a procession in connection with the nation`s 50th independence anniversary celebrations.
He also intimated that as far as the CJA is concerned there has not been any reaction from the Police about whether the intended procession by the CJA is coming on or not.
Pratt was reacting to a query by GO as to whether the CJA was keen on going on with the procession in spite of the reaction from Douglas Akrofi Asiedu, the Greater Accra Regional Police Chief, that because of the tremendous logistics and human resources requirements needed to be committed to the March 6 celebrations, it would be difficult to grant the request of the CJA for that particular date. The Police Chief had suggested a date two weeks after the celebrations.
`By the Public Order Law, the Police has no right to deny the CJA permission to go on any demonstration or march…that is the law…simple. `I am telling you that we did not receive any notification from the police that they will not allow us to go on the demonstration. Your boss is a lawyer…Let him determine for you or himself whether it is a legal position the Police have taken or not,` he told GO on Wednesday.
Greater Accra Police Commander Douglas Asiedu Akrofi, speaking last Wednesday afternoon on Accra-based Citi FM`s had indicated that it would be difficult for the Police to commit men and logistics to the CJA march, when a pressing national assignment was taking away the scarce resources available from them.
Citi FM had called the Police Chief to verify if the CJA had been granted permission to carry on with their procession. According to Mr. Pratt, the matter of granting permission to the CJA or not is a matter of law, adding that although the Police, as at the time of going to bed, had not officially communicated to the CJA, the CJA leadership will appropriately respond to the police when they officially receive a letter from them.
The Committee for Joint Action (CJA) on Tuesday said it was organising a `People`s Jubilee Procession` in Accra on March 6, the day for the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Ghana`s independence. This, according to the CJA, will be a procession for the ordinary people, who have been 'excluded' from the official celebrations and who wish to commemorate independence as the popular revolutionary event that it really was.
Mr. Kyeretwie Opoku, spokesman of the CJA told journalists a few days ago in Accra that the march would start at 0900 hours from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and end at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, where tributes and the laying of wreaths in honour of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and other fallen heroes of independence would be held.
Mr. Opoku, who was flanked by Mrs. Ama Benyiwa-Doe and Mr. Ato Ahwoi both of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as well as Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, Vice-Chairman of the People`s National Congress (PNC), said the CJA was `distressed at the narrowness, emptiness and clumsiness of the unfolding official programme`.
`We have duly informed the Police of our procession and as the law provides we expect that they will turn out to steward the procession and indeed celebrate with us,` Mr. Opoku said. He said March 6, 1957 was the moment in the nation's history when for the first time the masses celebrated the political victory they had won through years of difficult and dangerous struggle and celebrated the future of confident nation building that political power offered to Ghanaians and Africans everywhere.
`For the masses, 1957 meant economic independence. It meant mass self-mobilisation, for self-reliant use of national resources to achieve equitable development for all. It meant the chance to create a united prosperous country out of the divisions sown by the slave trade and colonial divide and rule,` Mr. Opoku said. He said the itinerary so far outlined for the celebrations excludes the masses, involving mainly the rich and the elite contrary to what independence stood for.
`The golden jubilee celebration is in crisis not just because of the vulgarity or clumsiness of its organisation, but also because the social forces whose defeat was celebrated on March 6, 1957 have since seized power. `They are bent on using 6th March to celebrate not the people`s victory but the revenge they have exacted against the people since 1966, (when Dr. Nkrumah was overthrown).`
He alleged that the organisers of the Jubilee celebration were honouring people who opposed independence in 1957 and the CJA members saw it as a gross disrespect to the memory of Dr. Nkrumah. `What ordinary Ghanaians have to celebrate in 2007 is our original vision, our endurance, our hard earned wisdom and our commitment to get back on track and complete the journey,` he said.
`For now we are about 30 years behind schedule and we need to all wake up, march forward and celebrate joyously, boldly and indeed militantly our hard won independence,` he added.