The Akufo-Addo government has portrayed itself as very frightened by the ongoing “Fix The Country” campaign and been at pains to have the conveners abducted by the Ghana Police Service and forced into a meeting of cabinet ministers.
Mr Barker-Vormawor, a lawyer and convener of the #FixTheCountry protest, has detailed how the government panicked and clandestinely lured its leadership into a meeting that turned out to be a cabinet meeting.
It is not clear, whether the President and Vice-President were present at that meeting.
But the revelation, depicted the Ghana Police Service, as desperately working for the Akufo-Addo government to prevent the citizens from exercising their civil liberties by expressing their disdain at the direction of the country under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and had declared their intention to protest on Sunday, May 9, 2021.
The Police Service led by an IGP, who is on a contract at the behest of President Akuufo-Addo, after his retirement at age 60, three years ago, had gone to court to secure an injunction against the demonstration which was to express its dissatisfaction against the Akufo-Addo government’s failure to improve the living standards of Ghanaians citing Public Health issues; the COVID-19 restriction which prohibit mass gathering.
The group, had cited the return of the energy crisis- Dumsor, economic hardship, borrowed over US$300 billion with nothing to show, massive unemployment, poor healthcare systems, poor roads, water crisis, increasing in petrol, diesel and LPG, as also massive corruption, lack of housing as proof of successive governments’ mismanagement of the country as the reasons behind the demonstration.
According to Oliver Barker-Vormawor, the initial plan to go meet the Inspector-General of Police, James Oppong Boanuh, to discuss issues with respect to their campaign and their intended demonstration, was surprisingly cut short along the way and a new route taken.
Mr Barker-Vormawor was speaking on Saturday, May 8, 2021, edition of NewsFile on the JoyNews channel.
This new route, he indicated, led them away from their originally planned meeting venue, to what they discovered, was a meeting of government ministers, with the exception of the Health minister.
This is how he narrated what happened: “The consistent actions by state actors so far for me does not show that it takes its citizens as matured stakeholders in our democratic conversation. I am bit perplexed and a little disappointed to hear that what is happening to us is a bit respectful; I find it difficult to accept. First of all, let’s walk through the procedures the government has taken to address our concerns our rights to express our disaffection. Seeing careful on the nature on how we were whisked into what was in essence, a cabinet meeting, for me, that significantly displeases me. People have the right to their bodily autonomy and to decide where they want to go”.
He went on, “We were told after we submitted our letter to the police and the respondent that the Inspector-General of Police wanted to meet us and, on the way, in the police convoy to that meeting, the location was changed and we were taken somewhere else, to a fully-conveyed team of government ministers, incidentally one of the key persons who was missing from that meeting was the minister for health. And I think that is significant because COVID-19 has been used as a red herring”.
Mr Barker-Vormawor, stated that “there is something about it that is interesting to me because first, let me tell you about how we were served with that injunction and people can determine whether this was respectful. So, after the meeting, the government had indicated to us that they were going to dialogue, that we should consider dropping the demand to go on the demonstration, and that they wanted to form an inter-ministerial committee, our representative in the meeting told them that we weren’t expecting to have this meeting and that we were practically ambushed into the meeting and so give us time to engage with the entire audience about how they feel about this idea”.
“When we left that meeting, regional commander who had driven us into that meeting – mind you, the IGP himself was not in that meeting, said we have another meeting at 3 O’clock to discuss the protest and so when we were still preparing a response to the letter they had given us, and then when it was getting closer to the 48-hour margin, we asked if we could send it to them via email, they said No and that it had to be in person”, Mr. Barker-Vormawor, said.
Unknown to us, the reason they wanted to receive it in person was because they wanted to serve us with an injunction they had procured on our blind side even though they knew who they were dealing with,” he detailed.