An Accra Circuit Court on Monday afternoon granted the police the authority to restrain organisers of the Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) from demonstrating on Tuesday at the office of the Electoral Commission (EC).
The decision quashes an earlier ruling by an Accra Magistrate Court which ruled that it cannot grant the permission of the police because the motion they filed had expired.
The court, presided over Justice Jennifer Anne Myers Ahmed, sided with the police in its ruling and said: “It is hereby ordered that the organisers of Let My Vote Count Alliance are restrained from demonstrating on the 29th of September 2015 but fix another date in October to give the police adequate time to prepare to ensure the safety of the demonstrators and the general public.”
The police had argued that they had an emergency programme to execute on Tuesday and so could not offer protection to the demonstrators.
The Circuit Court’s ruling will surely come as a blow to the organisers.
Earlier in the day, a Magistrate Court in Accra, granted the pressure group the permission to picket at the premises of the EC.
According to the court, the exparte injunction secured by the Police on 15th Sept., 2015, had elapsed its 10 day lawful existence, hence the go ahead by the court for LMVCA to picket at the EC office.
The police secured an injunction preventing pressure groups LMVCA and Alliance For Accountable Governance (AFAG) from picketing at the EC office on September the 16th.
According to the police, the EC office is a security zone hence the groups should use a specified route to present their petition to an appointed EC official.
An earlier demonstration organised by the group and its allies nearly a fortnight ago, resulted in an ugly confrontation between the demonstrators and the police after the former allegedly tried to use unapproved route in the course of their protest march, compelling the police to unleash brute force on them.
The high-handed approach adopted by the police to force the demonstrators to comply with the law was heavily criticised by many.
One person lost an eye and several others suffered severe head and body bruises as a result of the brutalities meted out to the protesters.
The police claimed the main intent behind the group's resolve to still picket at the EC premises is to enable them vandalize properties and cause disturbances at the place.
Gt. Accra Regional Police Commander, DCOP Christian Tetteh Yohonu, told Accra-based Okay FM Morning Show host, Kwame Nkrumah "Tikese" that, an intelligence report by the Police indicates that the LMVCA protesters have a suspicious plan of destroying properties at the offices of the EC under the guise of embarking on a peaceful demonstration.
Beaten but not broken, the protesters served notice of their intention to schedule a second protest for September 29, 2015, since they were unable to submit their petition to the EC as planned during the first demonstration.
Intent on seeing through their set objective - picketing at the EC premises - the group thus went to court on Monday to set aside an injunction filed by the Police restraining them from embarking on a second demonstration to back calls for a new voters register ahead of the 2016 elections.
David Asante, Convener, LMVCA, told PeaceFM's "Kokrokoo" Morning Show host, Kwame Sefa Kayi that being law abiding citizens, they only sought an interpretation of the police action from the court and are pleased to have been given the green light to picket at the EC office.
According to him, Justice Essandoh who presided over the case, said the order was meant to last for ten days which elapsed today, September 28, 2015, signifying the police had no right to stop us from picketing at the premises of the EC
But a resolute Police Service quickly went back to different court pleading for more time to adequately prepare and offer protection for the demonstrators since it had an emergency programme to execute on Tuesday.
"Upon reading the affidavit of Detective/C/Inspr. John Acquah of the Ghana Police Service stationed at Regional CID, Accra, filed on 25th September, 2015 in support of Motion Ex-parte for Restraining Order to stop Let My Vote Count Alliance from demonstrating on the 29th September, 2015:
"AND UPON HEARING CH. INSPR. AFFUL, the prosecutor herein:
"IT IS HERE ORDERED that the organisers of let my vote count alliance are restrained from demonstrating on the 29th September, 2015 but fix another date in October to give Police Adequate time to prepare to ensure the safety of the demonstrators and the general public.
"GIVEN UNDER MY HAND AND THE SEAL OF THE CIRCUIT COURT, ACCRA, THIS 28TH SEPTEMBER 2015."
Source: Peacefmonline.com/Ghana with additional files from Graphic.com.gh
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