PRESIDENT J.A. Kufuor, yesterday, unexpectedly appeared at a meeting between the Police Administration and the leadership of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) to take part in their deliberations.
The meeting was called by the National Peace Council to iron out the differences between the two groups which usually occurred whenever students embarked on demonstrations.
The President, who literally brokered peace between the two groups, warned the Police to desist from using live bullets when dealing with students' demonstrations.
“Be as humane as possible when handling them. They are your children. Don't use live bullets. Never!” he told the Police.
He admitted that the Police Service was doing well given the several challenges it faced, and added that it would be improper for anyone to underrate police personnel.
“Don't underrate them because some of them have about three degrees.” He advised the Police to continue to do their best “as within this phase of our development, we all have to sacrifice.”
He said all Ghanaians, right from the president, through the judiciary, education, medicine, security agencies, should envision the kind of nation Ghana would be in the near future and sacrifice for it.
“We are all striving for a better Ghana. With patience, times will be better. As they say, 'Rome was not built in a day.”
The President called on students to resort to dialogue rather than confrontation and violence when making any demands from authorities.
“Government will listen to your petition and if there is anything we can do to rectify the situation, we will do so. But don't behave as if you have more rights than all others.
“Let us, even as we put our protest across, leave room for others to react,” he said.
He told the students that “If you are not law abiding, you will come face-to-face with the Police, whose duty it is to ensure that society evolves according to law and order.”
President Kufuor reminded the students that the days when students had the best of everything were over. They should, therefore, use their time judiciously to concentrate on their mission to achieve their aim.
He advised them to be “critical and look at things as much as possible more objectively” without allowing any misguided and malicious people to infiltrate their ranks to cause mayhem.
He commended the National Peace Council for initiating moves to ensure that the police and students co-existed harmoniously.
Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister of the Interior, said there was the need for peace to exist between the Police and NUGS because both wielded great influence in national affairs.
He said there was no need for any mistrust between the police and students as “the two should complement each other in the knowledge that they are development partners.”
He said although the police had an obligation to maintain peace and order, they should always do so in the spirit and letter of the law.
“Similarly, students should be aware that much as they have a right, they also have a responsibility by recognising the legitimacy of the police.”
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Patrick Acheampong and other police officers called for more logistical support for the Police to make them more effective.
Mr Acheampong called for the creation of public order units within the Service as pertaining in other countries.
The President of NUGS, Mr William Yamoah called on the police to be more professional and students to be patient and tolerant.
Other students expressed their views about how the police should handle them in times of crisis.
The chairman of the Peace Council, Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson and other council members advised both the police and students to live in peace.