The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has described the demolition of a security post at the University of Ghana, by National Security Operative as an act of lawlessness and abuse of power.
‘The GBA condemns unreservedly this act of lawlessness and abuse of power as a threat to the rule of law, democratic governance and the peace of our nation,’ a statement jointly signed and issued by its National President, Nene Amegatcher, and National Secretary, Justine Amenuvor, said.
‘The people of Ghana have fought hard for their liberties, as enshrined in the Constitution, and will not accept any person or institution, under the guise of national security considerations, trampling over them with impunity,’ it said.
This is not the first time the National Security has demolished a University of Ghana structure. In February this year, a tollbooth constructed by the university was pulled down.
The construction of the tollbooth and the security post has been a tussle between the two parties.
The university is of the view that it is important and legitimate for it to put up an observation post at the entrance. This is because the university is not a thorough fare but a private property, even though it provides an essential public service.
However, the National Security is opposed to the construction of the structure on the grounds that the siting of the post on the road leading to the university at the Okponglo entrance will create a public nuisance, since it hinders the flow of traffic on the Legon-Madina road.
Act in accordance with law
The National Security’s explanation appears not to have gone down well with the GBA, which observed that as a creation of law, the National Security must act in accordance with law.
‘If the Office of the National Security Coordinator feels as strongly about the structure that the university authorities were putting up, what it should have done was to have gone to court and make a case before an impartial judicial tribunal for an injunction to restrain the university from putting up the observation post’, the statement said.
It said what was disturbing for the GBA was that after 20 years and more of democratic and constitutional rule, where the rule of law was expected to be crucial, an important security institution could blatantly ignore due process of the law and destroy the structure the school was constructing.
‘An equally worrying dimension of this incident is the question of national security. Is it the case that the traffic congestion that the observation post might possibly have caused is a national security issue justifying the intervention of the Office of the National Security Coordinator?’
‘It cannot be the case, in a law-governed democratic republic, that the Office of the National Security Coordinator can simply arrogate to itself an unlimited discretion to determine what constitutes a national security threat, even where it is obvious that no national security question is the issue,’ the statement said. GBA’s solution
Proffering solution to the impasse between the two institutions, the GBA said clear guidelines, consistent with the law, should be established by the National Security Council.
The guidelines, it said, would form a basis for which the National Security could intervene in ordinary civil public life.
‘In the view of the GBA, whatever traffic congestion the construction of an observation post may create is simply a motor traffic issue which can well be handled by the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service or the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.’
To the university, it said ‘The GBA calls on the University of Ghana to adopt the culture of due process and to use all lawful means to protect its property, uphold the rule of law which our dear country has laboured to institute and cherish dearly’.
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