Posted: Thursday 12th June 2014 at 10:06 am

GBA condemns demolition of Legon security posts by National Security

5c86240x mg wc61vihutp 547414927 691183 GBA condemns demolition of Legon security posts by National Security


The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has condemned unreservedly, what it terms, act of lawlessness and abuse of power by the Office of the National Security Coordinator (NSC).

According to the GBA, the needless abuse of power by the Office of the National Security Coordinator is “a threat to the rule of law, democratic governance and the peace of our nation”.

There is a raging dispute between the University of Ghana and the Office of the National Security Coordinator following the decision by the university to construct a ‘security observation post’ at the Okponglo entrance to the campus.

However, the National security officials are of the view that the siting of the post on the Legon/Madina highway would create public nuisance, as this would create a serious hindrance to the flow of traffic on that road. 

The NSC on two occasions- February and May 2014 -moved under the cover of darkness to pull down the structure at the displeasure of authorities. 

The GBA in a release Thursday, expressed shock and dismay at the conduct of the NSC. 

“This ‘night act’ sends wrong signals to criminals to emulate such unwarranted suspicious times to perpetuate crime”, the GBA stated.

“What is most disturbing for the GBA is that, more than twenty years into our democratic and constitutional dispensation, where the rule of law is expected to hold sway, an important state institution, as our national security institution, can blatantly ignore due process of the law, and proceed in ‘Rambo’ style’ to destroy the security/observation post the University of Ghana authorities were constructing”.

The GBA also called 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”.

Read the GBA’s statement below:
GHANA BAR ASSOCIATION STATEMENT ON DEMOLITION OF LEG0N OBSERVATION

POST
The Ghana Bar Association wishes to express its shock and dismay at the report that the Office of the National Security Coordinator has, for the second time demolished a security/observation post being put up at the University of Ghana. 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.

The Ghana Bar is aware of the fact that there has been a raging dispute between the University of Ghana authorities and the Office of National Security Coordinator as to whether or not an observation post or gate should be put up at the Okponglo entrance to the university. 

National security officials are of the view that the siting of the post on the road leading to the university at the Okponglo entrance would create a public nuisance, as this would create a serious hindrance to the flow of traffic on the Legon/Madina highway. The university authorities, on the other hand, are of the view that it was important and legitimate for the university to put up an observation post at the entrance to the university, as the university is not in that sense a thorough public way, but private property, even though it provides an essential public service.

What is most disturbing for the GBA is that, more than twenty years into our democratic and constitutional dispensation, where the rule of law is expected to hold sway, an important state institution, as our national security institution, can blatantly ignore due process of the law, and proceed in ‘Rambo’ style’ to destroy the security/observation post the University of Ghana authorities were constructing. 

Even more worrying is the fact that the National Security under the cover of darkness surreptitiously embarked on this demolition exercise. This ‘night act’ sends wrong signals to criminals to emulate such unwarranted suspicious times to perpetuate crime. Does that also not smack of illegalities because should the law give such power to the National Security, what stops it from undertaking this activity in broad daylight?

The Office of National Security Coordinator is a creature of law, and, we dare say, 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.

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 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 in issue.

The GBA is of the view that very clear guidelines, consistent with the law, should be established by the National Security Council for invoking national security as a basis of intervention in ordinary civil public life. In the view of the GBA, whatever traffic congestion the construction of an observation post may create is a simply motor traffic issue which can well be handled by the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service or the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.

The people of Ghana have hard fought 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.

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. 

 
DATED AT THE NATIONAL SECRETARIAT THIS 12TH DAY OF JUNE 2014

 
National President    
Nene Amegatcher
Justine Amenuvor
National Secretary
 

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