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20.02.2007 General News

CJA Dares Police

By Daily Guide

THE COMMITTEE for Joint Action (CJA), a pseudo-civil society group, appears to be on a collision course with the Ghana police.
This follows the committee's decision to defy police directives to postpone its procession scheduled for March 6, Ghana's Independence Day.

The CJA said it would go ahead with plans to commemorate the Independence Day with a street procession in order to involve ordinary Ghanaians, who it claimed, had been sidelined in the anniversary celebrations.

However, the police said the day chosen for the procession was highly inappropriate, considering the fact that personnel of the service would take part in the anniversary parade.

Last week, CJA announced its intention to organise a procession on March 6, the day for the Golden Jubilee Anniversary celebrations, and invited the Police to shepherd the march.

The Police Administration, in response, turned down the request and asked CJA to postpone the march to any date, two weeks after the anniversary celebrations.

At a press conference at the offices of Insight Newspaper, near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, Kyeretwie Opoku, spokesman of the committee, flanked by Ama Benyiwa-Doe, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Women's Organiser, Kwamena Ahwoi, a leading Member of NDC and Emelia Arthur, a member of the comatose National Reform Party, told journalists that the Greater Accra Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Douglas Akrofi Asiedu, in a letter, had said a good majority of police officers would be detailed for the anniversary parade which falls on the same day.

In the letter, DCOP Akrofi-Asiedu said, “In view of police preparation toward Ghana's 50th Anniversary, the majority of our personnel would be detailed for the anniversary parade and other security coverage duties.

“Considering the number of Heads of State, VVIPs and visitors arriving in Ghana, prior to, during and after the anniversary, the police shall be over-burdened.”

DCOP Akrofi-Asiedu disclosed the police would go to court to seek an injunction on the procession.

Mr. Kyeretwie noted, “The police do not claim to have reasonable grounds to believe that our procession would lead to violence or endanger public defence, public order, public safety, public health or the running of essential services.

Nor do the police suggest that the procession would violate the rights and freedoms of other persons.”

According to CJA, the police did not have any right under the public order law to interfere with the procession.

It said apart from the letter from the police, which did not meet the requirement of the Public Order Act, “Mr. Akrofi's radio appearances do not constitute formal or substantive basis for an application to the court, under the Public Order Act for an order prohibiting the people's procession.”

The CJA pointed out, the police was given a full month's notice to enable it address logistical issues effectively.

CJA, a pressure group, mainly made up of members of opposition parties, said it was not the only group which had criticised the programme line-up for the 50th Anniversary celebrations.

“It is significant that even a Member of Parliament and Minister, Dr Kwesi Nduom, has complained last week about the political exclusion and even, suggesting that the management of the official process is not sufficiently accountable to our Parliament.”

The masses, CJA said, had either been completely shut out or relegated to the role of spectators at self-congratulatory official events such as parades.

“The effort to tightly control every aspect of the jubilee and create a false image of national consensus and support for the ruling elite's agenda has already failed.”

It said though the 50th anniversary was to promote unity, “our country is more divided today than any point in its history, except the tragic 'ma teme ho' period.”

To CJA, unity could not be achieved by silencing dissent. “Why do they want everybody to toe the same 'logologoline'?” it quizzed.

It also condemned the efforts to bring former president Rawlings on board, describing it as a 'belated noisy effort', which would not bring about reconciliation.

“Rawlings can attend all the parades and banquets, sit at President Kufuor's right hand and smile nicely for the cameras. It would not mean national reconciliation or unity.”

Mr. Kwesi Pratt, answering a question on why CJA would not resort to another alternative, said the procession as scheduled, would begin at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle at 9.00am, and end at the Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra Central, where participants would pay tribute and lay wreaths in honour of Ghana's First President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

“This is a procession for the masses; there would be brass band music. We will sing, dance, hold placards, and do all those things which would make us happy.”

Wreaths would also be laid for other heroes who championed the nation's independence struggles, he added.