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OccupyGhana welcomes Justice Short's Commission

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Pressure group OccupyGhana® has welcomed government’s decision to set up a commission of inquiry into last Thursday, January 31, violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency by-election in Accra.

The group in a statement, welcomed the move and wished it well, but penned off the statement with the terse admonition: “Ghanaians are watching.”

Mr. Justice Emile Short

Government Wednesday announced a three-man commission to probe the violence, with former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Justice Emile Short as chairperson, while law lecturer Henrietta Mensah Bonsu and former Inspector General of Police, Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong are members. Private legal practitioner, Ernest Kofi Abotsi is secretary to the commission.

OccupyGhana®reiterated its earlier demand for answers to a number of questions, and said it anxiously awaits the report and recommendations of the commission whose implementation should hopefully reduce drastically, the scourge of electoral violence that has plagued Ghana for several years, if not totally eliminate it.

The group said it would have preferred the establishment of a commission of inquiry under Chapter 23 of the Constitution, however it believes that this inquiry has the potential to find answers to several questions it wants answers for and probably quicker than any court proceedings.

Among the questions OccupyGhana® demands answers to are;

  1. The legal bases upon which the armed force of the National Security Council was assembled, maintained and deployed, if any;
  2. 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
  3. The reason and necessity for maintaining the said force outside the legally and constitutionally recognised services established by law;
  4. The procedure for recruiting persons into the said force; and
  5. The financial provision made for maintaining the force.

“It is in expectation of a full disclosure on these and all other matters that we endorse the Inquiry and its members. We anxiously await their report and will be watching to see the implementation of measures that we hope will reduce drastically, if not totally eliminate the scourge of electoral violence that has plagued this country for several years.

“We wish the Inquiry well. Ghanaians are watching.”

The commission of inquiry’s terms of reference include:

to make a full, faithful and impartial enquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to, the events and associated violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election; to identify any person responsible for or who has been involved in the events, the associated violence and injuries; to enquire into any matter which it considers incidental or reasonably related to the causes of the events and the associated violence and injuries;
to submit within one month its report to the President, giving reasons for its findings and recommendations, including appropriate sanctions, if any.

Below Is The Full Statement
6th February 2019
The Honourable Minister for National Security
Accra
Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah
Dear Sir:
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
OccupyGhana®
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
The Auditor-General
National Security Coordinator

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