Convener of the FixTheCountry Movement, Oliver Barker-Vormawor, has lamented the state of Ghana’s democracy, following the arrest of protestors during the #OccupyJulorbiHouse demonstration interrupted yesterday, September 21, 2023, by the police.
According to him, the struggles by persons who have put their lives on the line to ensure justice persists in the country must be lauded. Citing and expressing sadness over the demise of journalist of Ada Radio, Noah Dameh, he stated that his fight for justice was commendable.
“Our democracy has lost its gem! May we never recover till Noah gets his recognition and justice. May we remember those who lose their lives in the struggle for our collective freedom.”Oliver Barker-Vormawor
Mr Barker-Vormawor revealed that Mr Dameh who died at just 49 years on September 21, 2023, was continuously persecuted for his courage and dedication to reporting and mobilizing support for the voiceless in Ada and surrounding rural communities.
He explained that even though Mr Dameh was deprived of the “big lights and applause” of the Accra media, he was true to his ideals.
“His life was one of true devotion and commitment to truth. For this he was persecuted and jailed for simply being a journalist.”Oliver Barker-Vormawor
Meanwhile, the FixTheCountry Movement convener expressed his resilience in carrying on with the protest which was interrupted by the police leading to the arrest of over 50 protestors.
Taking to his Facebook page, Mr Barker-Vormawor indicated that he has “just set off from my house for day 2 of #OccupyJulorbiHouse”
“We are meeting at 37 trotro Station. I don’t know what the police plan to do. But i have packed my jail pack. 1 boxer shorts, 1 towel, 1 dettol, 1 mosquito repellent. May posterity remember the price of their freedom!”Oliver Barker-Vormawor
Commenting on the itinerary for the second day, he stated that the group is supposed to setup at the forefront of the “Julorbi House” and hold educational sessions to among other things, enlighten Ghanaians about the constitution.
He emphasized that the protest is to fundamentally educate Ghanaians about their rights in a democracy.
“Some of these jobs, the NCCE is supposed to do it… The continuous politicization of institutions that are supposed to uplift us is what we are deploring. So, we’ve taken that charge upon ourselves and we are going to be doing the work.”Oliver Barker-Vormawor
Constitutionality of protests in the country
Elsewhere, lawyer, Kwaku Paintsil, reacting to the events surrounding the protest interrupted by police, stated that the freedom of an individual to go on demonstration is “crystallized” in the Public Order Act of 1994. With this, he explained that the Act defines clearly the rights citizens have and the responsibilities of the police in any situation where citizens want to exercise that right to demonstrate.
Mr Paintsil highlighted that this usually starts with a notice that ought to be given to the police to inform them about the special event.
“When that notice is delivered to the police, the law requires that upon receipt of that notice, if the police have got any reason to believe that the holding of that special event may conflict with some other rights of citizens, or there’s reasonable cause to believe that it will affect public safety and public order, then the police has a duty to write back to the organizers of the demonstration of the reasons why they are not approving that request. Then the police has to advise whether the event must be postponed to another day, or the route must be changed…”Kwaku Paintsil
On his part, a fellow of CDD-Ghana, Dr John Osae Kwapong, conceded that Mr Barker-Vormawor went through the right processes in calling for the demonstration. He noted that the police were given a month’s notice on the plans of the group.
“I remember in one of his Facebook updates he did indicate that they had met with the police to inform them they wanted to embark on the demonstration… So, you could see the flurry of activities from his group preparing for it, calling for people to participate, donations and any items of support…”Dr John Osae Kwapong
Despite the seeming methodical move by the group to carry out its protest, Dr Kwapong noted that he has however not been too “clear about what the legal provision is”.
“So, constitutionally, citizens have a right to free assembly, right to engage in some of these activities in protest of whatever conditions they believe they need to protest. I also know that the law says they must inform the police. Someway somehow, it appears that the informing of the police has turned into seeking permission from the police…”Dr John Osae Kwapong