Police and military personnel on August 14, 2019, violated citizens’ rights to hold peaceful protest by intimidating a group of anti-government protesters in Navrongo, capital of the Kassena-Nankana District in Ghana, as President Akufo-Addo arrived in the town for an official visit.
According to a report published by 3news.com, a minister who accompanied the President called the police and military officers to clear the protestors who had massed up along the street with placards.
In a video footage published online, military personnel are seen grabbing messages written on papers and tearing them.
Some of the placards read “Mr President, we want dams not dugout”, a reference to widely reported shoddy work by contractors working on irrigation dam projects in the north of the country. “Mr. President, stop renaming and build your own”, read another placard.
One of the protestors, who ran into a shop with his placard, was pursued by military officers and his placard seized.
The protesters were heard challenging the security officers’ violent intervention.
“Are we in a military rule or what?” one protestor questioned. “This is more than a military rule; this is not democracy. Shame, shame!” a woman shouted.
Mr. Clifford Achari, an aide to the Member of Parliament for the area, justified the action by the security personnel, saying that the protesters’ messages were offensive to the government and the president.
Meanwhile, another group of sympathisers of the ruling party, who had lined up the street to welcome the President to neighbouring Builsa South District, were left alone as they sang the praises of the President. This group of praise-singers also carried placards with messages such as: “Thank you Nana for giving us jobs”, “Nana Addo, King of Employment.”
The MFWA condemns the double standards and political favouritism demonstrated by the security forces. The violence against the protestors amounts to censorship and a violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly and protest. We call on the Presidency to advise security agents to refrain from attacking citizens who are expressing their concerns to the president through peaceful protests, as such acts of violence and intolerance in the name of the President does not honour the president.