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27.04.2006 General News

Police 'Take Over' Legon

By The Ghanaian Times
Police 'Take Over' Legon

THE police have taken over security control on the Legon campus of the University of Ghana following increasing acts of vandalism by some students.

The police action, which is in response to a distress call by the university authorities, followed the destruction of parts of the Students Representation Council (SRC) union building and notice boards on Tuesday night by a group of irate students after a clash with the police during Tuesday afternoon's violent demonstration in protest against the disqualification of a candidate, Lord Hammah, from contesting the run-off in the election of the SRC president.

No arrests have been made.

The police, both uniformed and plain-clothed personnel, are currently on a 24-hour patrol on the university's campus.

“We shall remain on campus as long as the situation demands,” Kofi Boakye, Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, told newsmen after a meeting with the university authorities and some executives of the SRC on the volatile situation in the university.

“We have to protect students and property, and we would arrest anyone who attempts to disturb the peace on campus,” he stated.

He cautioned the students against acts of violence warning that the offenders would be dealt with ruthlessly.

Anti-riot police fired tear-gas to disperse the students who had destroyed ballot boxes at all the polling centres in the university.

At the time of going to press, there was calm on campus as the students who are revising for examinations next week went about their activities peacefully.

Few police cars were seen patrolling the streets on the university campus, while a contingent of anti-riot policemen, backed with a water canon, is on standby at the Legon police station, opposite the main university gate.

Professor C.N.B. Tagoe, acting Vice-Chancellor of the University, told newsmen that the police were called in to protect lives and property since the actions of the students were getting worse.

“The university administration is anxious to deal with those who intend to disturb the peace in the university,” he stated, and added that the administration was investigating the destruction of the structures on campus and would appropriately deal with the culprits.

Prof. Tagoe said it was regrettable that only a few students were misbehaving and causing trouble in the university, adding, “the large majority of students are going about their duties peacefully.”

He denied the alleged interference in SRC elections by the administration, saying that the SRC elections have been entirely students' affair.

“The only point we come in is when they need funding and facilities,” he said.

He also denied the administration's involvement in the disqualification of Lord Hammah.

Prior to Wednesday's rioting, three demonstrations had already been held over the run-off because Lord Hamah, who won the most votes in the main elections had been disqualified by the SRC Electoral Commission for his alleged involvement in examination malpractices.

The students contended that since he was allowed to contest in the main election, there was no justification for his disqualification in the run-off insisting that due process must be followed.

The SRC Electoral College on Wednesday defied an injunction by an Accra Fast Track High Court against the conduct of the run-off election.

The defiance of the order apparently did not go down well with a section of the students who decided to disrupt the elections.

Commonwealth Hall, the largest constituency in the university and home to Lord Hamah and two other candidates, dissociated itself from the run-off.
Before the disruption, the turn-out of the election had been poor with only a handful of students casting their votes in the presence of policemen stationed at the polling centres.

Meanwhile the University of Ghana yesterday issued a press statement, expressing its concern over the recent happenings on the campus of the university.

The university, which gave as chronology of events on the campus, urged students to remain calm, and assured “the university will not hesitate to bring the hammer hard on any student who falls foul of the university regulations.”

It reminded students of the rules and regulations governing the university.