By-election shooting: OccupyGhana threatens court action over deployment of masked men
Pressure group, OccupyGhana, has written a tersely worded letter to the Minister of National Security, seeking, among other things, the legal basis for the deployment of a special force during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election last Thursday.
In what it calls a “statutory notice” to Albert Kan Dapaah, OccupyGhana is also demanding an explanation of the circumstances under which the police facilitated the acts of the unknown taskforce by supplying vehicles or other logistics for their operations on the day of the by-election.
The taskforce, masked and heavily armed, stormed a polling station at La Bawalashie and shot at persons engaged in the electoral process.
It is not yet known what may have prompted the armed security personnel to shoot and injure at least six persons, but police have launched a full-scale investigation.
President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has also set up a commission inquiry to look into the widely condemned shooting incident.
The pressure group, made up of eminent Ghanaian lawyers and other professionals states: “Concerned about the legality or otherwise of that force, we have checked the Constitution (particularly articles 83 to 85, 200 and 210) and all statutes relevant to National Security and have found no law that backs the force that your office deployed.”
The group warns the Minister: “if we do not hear from you we shall go to Court to seek reliefs including (but not limited to): (a) providing the information requested above, (b) declaring the said force illegal, (c) ordering that the force be disbanded, (d) ordering you to account for all of sums of money expended on maintaining this force, (e) and further ordering that all such sums be refunded to the State, the expenditure on the said force being contrary to law.”
Read in full the letter addressed to Mr Kan Dapaah and copied to Attorney-General and others below.
6th February 2019
The Honourable Minister for National Security
Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah
DEPLOYMENT OF AN ARMED FORCE BY THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL.
During the 31st January 2019 parliamentary by-election held at the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency in the Greater Accra Region, your office deployed an armed force (not established by law) to ostensibly perform policing duties.
We have seen video footage of these men, attired and bearing arms, engaging in acts of violence that we have condemned in our Public Statement of 1st February 2019.
We have also seen that some of these men were being driven in vehicles bearing the name and insignia of the Ghana Police Service and were, in some instances, chauffeured or accompanied by persons who appeared to be regular police personnel.
Concerned about the legality or otherwise of that force, we have checked the Constitution (particularly articles 83 to 85, 200 and 210) and all statutes relevant to National Security and have found no law that backs the force that your office deployed.
Sir, Ghanaians have exercised our “natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government” for ourselves, which is required to secure for us and posterity the blessings of liberty among others.
It is for this reason that our Constitution affirms that “all powers of Government spring from the Sovereign Will of the People,” in “whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in [the] Constitution.” Thus any act(s) and/or omission(s) that threaten these aspirations and legitimate expectations of Ghanaians ought to arouse the concern of all responsible and well-meaning Ghanaians.
Therefore, we write to demand that you kindly indicate to us:
i. The legal bases upon which you assembled, maintained and deployed that force, of any;
ii. The circumstances under which the Ghana Police Service facilitated the acts of that force by supplying vehicles or other logistics for the operations of that day;
iii. The reason and necessity for maintaining the said force outside the legally and constitutionally recognised services established by law;
iv. The procedure for recruiting persons into the said force; and
v. The financial provision made for maintaining this force.
We demand answers to these questions because the powers of government, as required by law, must be exercised, first, in the welfare of the people who were inexcusably violated by this force, and second, “in the manner and within the limits laid down in [the] Constitution.”
This letter is a formal request for information under Article 21 of the Constitution. Further, it constitutes statutory notice of our intention to take appropriate action against the Government should you fail to respond to and address the issues we have raised.
Thus if we do not hear from you we shall go to Court to seek reliefs including (but not limited to): (a) providing the information requested above, (b) declaring the said force illegal, (c) ordering that the force be disbanded, (d) ordering you to account for all of sums of money expended on maintaining this force, (e) and further ordering that all such sums be refunded to the State, the expenditure on the said force being contrary to law.
We are counting on your co-operation
cc. His Excellency the President
His Excellency the Vice-President
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Minister for Defence
Minister for the Interior
Minister for Finance
Chief of Defence Staff
Inspector General of Police
National Security Coordinator