The Ghana Police Service, yesterday arrested several protestors at the first day of the demonstration by pressure group, Arise Ghana Movement, which continues today with more people expected to pour onto the streets of Accra.
Those arrested are believed to be part of those who pelted stonesat the police and their vehicles during the protest which witnessed pelting, tear gas throwing, pepper spraying, injuries and arrests of 29 demonstrators. In some instances, both the police officers and protesters, were seen running away from each other.
But the leadership of the movement has, instead accused the Ghana Police Service of planting people to pose as protestors and cause mayhem during the demonstration dubbed, “Krom AyƐ Hye”.
Former PNC National Chairman, Bernard Mornah, the National Chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah and Kofi Totobi Quarkye, are reported to have been subjected to one form of attack or another by the police.
One Nii Ayi Mensah of Korle Gornor in Accra, a protester had his right eyeball almost coming out of its socket after an object hit the eye.
At a press conference after the demonstration, a member of the coalition, Rex Omar, said “one of the things we found out later is that a gentleman, who was with the police but had dressed as a demonstrator, was the first to pelt stones at the police, in the bid to instigate a reaction from them. I have picture evidence. We all saw what happened afterwards. A number of the protestors sustained various degrees of injuries.”
The musician, noted that members of the coalition, are law-abiding and would not do anything to compromise the peace the country enjoys.
“Our members are very peaceful; we hoped that this would happen in a very cordial manner. We never planned for this. That is why all through, we have engaged the police on reaching a consensus on our demonstration,” Rex Omar said.
While, some have reported the arrest of three individuals, the Police Service in an official statement mentioned that some 29 people were “arrested for their participation in violent attacks on the police and some members of the public including school children during the Arise Ghana demonstration in Accra”.
The demonstration turned violent with many injuries, after organisers of the demonstration and the police disagreed over the routes to use.
In addition to the tear gas, police also responded to the protestors with water cannons.
The organisers of the protest, resolved to occupy the precincts of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle fountain over the disagreements with the Police.
The police, had been insisting on enforcing the orders of the court for the protestors to move through Farisco, through TUC to Independence Square.
The Ghana Police Service, has condemned the attack, describing it as shameful.
Another member, who is also the Communication Officer of the NDC, Sammy Gyamfi, said the police’s response to the development was only a ploy to discredit the coalition.
“The Police’s response was only a PR gimmick. They sought to paint us as violent members of society. If we had any such intentions to cause mayhem, we would not have given the police a 20-day’ notice.”
The police had been insisting on enforcing the orders of the high court for the protestors to move through Farisco, through TUC to the Independence Square, but the organizers of the protest, insisted that they would use another route, which reportedly led to a confrontation between the two sides.
Police said in a statement that 12 of its officers, have been left with varying degrees of injury after protestors pelted stones at the officers assigned to offer protection during the activity.
The police say the attack was “unprovoked.”
The organizers of the protest, say they will continue with their protest today, Wednesday.
The police, described the behaviour of protesters at the demonstration as “unacceptable” insisting that the officers were only there to protect the Arise Ghana protesters, but instead, the demonstrators pelted stones at them.
In a Facebook post, the Police said: “What a shame, we were there to protect you and ensure your safety, but you throw stones at us, injure and hurt us. “This behaviour is unacceptable and must be condemned.”
Personnel from the Ghana Police Service fired tear gas at the Arise Ghana protestors at the Obra Spot near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra.
It is unclear what sparked the chaos at the scene, but some protestors pelted stones at the police and their vehicles.
The demonstrators had wanted to march towards the Ako Adjei Interchange and with a view to stopping at the Jubilee house.
Organisers of the Arise Ghana demonstration are marching against the persistent and astronomical hikes in fuel prices among others.
They are also protesting against the E-Levy, and want a bi-partisan parliamentary probe into COVID-19 expenditures, as well as the cancellation of the controversial Agyapa deal.
Earlier the General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akuffo Dampare, had cautioned his men against any form of misconduct.
He urged his men to treat the demonstrators as they – the law enforcers – wish to be treated “if they were on the other side”.
Dr Dampare, cautioned them to be as professional as they can and demonstrate to the world that Ghana is a beacon of democracy.
He said: “We should continue to remember that those demonstrators are human beings like us, those demonstrators are Ghanaians like us, they are our brothers and sisters and, therefore, we should treat them with all the respect, civility and the dignity each and every human being deserves”.
“In effect, we should treat them the way we would like to be treated if we were on the other side”.
The IGP explained: “It means, as you go out there, if anybody needs help, help the person; do that joyously, do that with love, do that with a sense of humility and humanity and as you do that you win the hearts of the demonstrators…”
NDC Deputy National Youth Organiser, Edem Agbana, said the stone throwing by some members of the Arise Ghana pressure group during the first day of the demonstration was self defence.
He claimed that the Police started firing tear gas at them during the exercise without any provocation.
“Self defence is seen as legal, they were only reacting to the action of the Police,” Agbana told TV3’s Roland Walker during the protest and accused the Police of recklessness.
He said, they were embarking on a peaceful demonstration only for the Police to start firing tear gas at them.
“I think that what happened is unfortunate, this is not what we bargained for,” he said.
He added “we are peaceful demonstrators, unarmed protesters sending a clear message to the government that the economy is in a mess.”
The Police, however, accused the demonstrators of attacking them and described the situation as shameful.
The Police in a tweet said “Attack on Police in the Ongoing Arise Ghana Demonstration What a shame, we were there to protect you and ensure your safety, but you throw stones at us, injure and hurt us. This behaviour is unacceptable and must be condemned.”
TV3’s Eric Mawuena Ebegta, who witnessed the scenes reported that “The Police were still firing as individuals are still throwing stones at the Police.
“They are insisting on using the Ring Road through to the Presidency and the Police are refusing to allow them to do that which has resulted in the firing of tear gas and the use of water cannon against the demonstrators. That is the current situation at the Obra spot in Accra.”
The purpose of the demonstration, according to them, is to protest against persistent and astronomical hikes in fuel prices by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government that has imposed excruciating economic hardships on Ghanaians.
It is also to protest against the imposition of “the obnoxious E-Levy on the already-burdened Ghanaian people by the insensitive Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government.
“Demand a full scale and bi-partisan parliamentary probe into COVID-19 expenditures; Protest against the grabbing of State lands by officials of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government, particularly the de-classification of huge portions of the Achimota Forest reserve.
“Protest against the increased rate of police brutalities and state-sponsored killing of innocent Ghanaians, as well as the growing culture of human rights abuses under the watch of President Akufo-Addo and Alhaji Bawumia.”
The NDC National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, said the current economic challenges go to show how the Akufo-Addo administration is out of touch with reality.
Addressing protestors Mr Ofosu Ampofo, said “we are all feeling the heat in this country. We are in very hard times. That is why we have risen. We cannot take it anymore.”
“Nana Akufo-Addo and the so-called economic Messiah, Bawumia, have failed us. They are completely out of touch. The hardship we are going through has nothing to do with the Ukraine-Russia war. It is all thanks to poor leadership. If it was about the war, our neighbouring countries would be struggling like us,” he added.
He said, the NDC will go the extra mile to ensure that the country is rescued from the clutches of “toxic leadership.”
He expressed the opposition party’s unflinching support for the Arise Ghana movement.
“Enough is enough. We need a change, and this change will not come easy. It is for this reason that the NDC has committed its support to the Arise Ghana movement. We are with you day and night.”