Lens -- Two female residents of Town Council Line in the Ablekuma Central Constituency of Accra suffered brutalities at the hands of an overzealous police officer, who in the process revealed her NPP leanings to everyone present. The crime of the women was the fact they were seen celebrating the Eid-ul Fitr at the time that the NPP was holding a political rally in the area.
On Saturday 13th November 2004, the people of Town Council Line, a predominantly Moslem community, were celebrating the Eid-ul Fitr, and as part of the celebration, a small group of women and children were going around the community singing the praises of Allah for guiding them through the thirty-day fasting period safely. This procession has become something of a tradition in the community, and every year members of the community hold similar processions.
By late afternoon, the procession was passing by the Town Council park, where four constituencies of the NPP, made up of the Odododiodoo, Ablekuma South, Ablekuma Central, and Ablekuma North constituencies, were holding a rally that was becoming embarrassing for the party because members of the community were showing no interest whatsoever in the rally and the attendance was miserable. As the procession passed by, people began leaving the rally to join the procession.
It is not clear whether Police Superintendent Helena Cobbla, the District Officer of the Odokor district, received instructions to stop the procession or not. What is clear though is that she tried to stop the women from continuing with their celebrations. At this point one of the women in the procession, Maame Salamatu Illiasu, tried to explain to the Police Officer that they were not holding a rival event and that they were Moslems celebrating the end of their thirty-days fasting.
Maame Salamatu recounts her ordeal. "As we were walking along the road in front of the park, we were stopped by a certain thick tall woman who was wearing a yellow lacoste over a pair jeans, the type called three-quarters. She asked us to stop singing our praise songs. I approached her and started to explain to her that we were Moslem women celebrating the end of our fast, and that this was the way we have been celebrating that event over the years. All of a sudden, without any warning whatsoever, the woman dealt me a hefty slap on my face. Honestly, without hesitating for a moment I replied her in kind at the same spot of her face where she struck me. I wasn't about to let anyone hit me in the face, without any provocation from me, and get away with it."
"The other women in the procession rushed to my aid, and for some reason the tall woman, whom I later got to know is a Police Officer by name Helena Cobbla, turned on Adjarah, who was in the procession, held her by her dress, tearing Adjarah's new Sanllah dress. Some of the uniform policemen who were around had to intervene to rescue Adjarah. It was then that I got to know that the woman was a Police Officer," Maame recounted.
Though an embarrassed Okuley Nortey, the incumbent MP for the area, who is the NPP candidate, has apologised to Adjarah and has paid for the cost of the dress, the women who took part in the procession, especially Adjarah and Maame, are living in fear of being arrested because Mad. Helena had threatened that she would have all of them arrested and detained in Police cells.
Meanwhile the questions being asked are: why should Okuley Nortey apologise on behalf of the Police Officer and pay for the torn dress, when he should have been the one to be in the forefront to fight for his constituents whose rights have been abused by a Police Officer? Could it be that the Police Officer, in trying to stop the women, was acting upon his instructions?