Police Stops Okyenhene
Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin
The Eastern Regional Police Command has prevented the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin and other chiefs from inspecting poor roads in the region.
This was after the chiefs, through the office of the Regional House of Chiefs, had written to the police informing them of their intention to inspect the roads and subsequently address a press conference at the end of the inspection.
Nananom therefore requested the Command to detail some personnel to offer protection in the course of the programme on the scheduled date.
As the Okyenhene and his sub-chiefs were waiting for clearance for the programme to be undertaken on Monday July 21, 2014, the Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Akuribah Yaagy, wrote to them stopping them from going ahead with the road inspection and the subsequent media briefing.
In the said letter dated July 16, 2014, the Regional Commander underscored, ‘Considering the length/stretch of the road from Koforidua-Suhum-Asamankese and back to Suhum, the Regional Police Command will not be able to safeguard the procession, prevent obstruction of pedestrians or vehicular traffic and Nananom’s own safety.’
Even though the chiefs were not embarking on a protest march or demonstration, the letter requested them to postpone the procession and the holding of the press conference under the Suhum overpass.
The police have since asked the chiefs to consider a relocation of the intended road inspection and subsequent press conference ‘to the premises of the Regional House of Chiefs or any enclosed conference centre/hall for adequate safeguard of Nananom.’
To back his position, DCOP Yaagy quoted Section 1 (4) of the Public Order Act 1994 (Act 491) which states that ‘where a police officer notified of a special event under Sub-section (1) has reasonable grounds to believe that the special event if held, may lead to violence or endanger public defence, public order, public safety, public health or the running of essential services or violate the rights and freedoms of other persons, he may request the organisers to postpone the special event to any other date or to relocate the special event.’
This, he said, was because ‘the action of Nananom will certainly endanger public order, public safety and also violate the rights and freedoms of individuals who may be using the roads on the day of the procession.’
The Suhum Municipal Assembly also had cause to write to the House of Chiefs asking for the proposed venue of the chief’s press confab to be relocated.
In a letter signed and issued by the Secretary to the Municipal Security Committee (MUSEC), Kodjoe Dekpo, it stated among other things that ‘this is because Monday 21 July, 2014 is a market day at Suhum. As a result, there would be heavy vehicular movement and traffic jam in the town hence, any activity in and around the overhead bridge could inhibit public safety and public order, disrupt essential services as well as violate the rights of other road users as stipulated in Section 1 (Sub-section 4) of the Public Order Act.
That aside, the Municipal Assembly said, ‘The volatile nature of the security in the Municipality and the fact that the proposed date falls on a market day, with the event taking place under the overhead bridge, which is along the Accra-Kumasi highway, coupled with manpower and logistics constraints, MUSEC cannot guarantee the safety and security of life and properties if the said event comes off as planned.’
The chiefs have however, indicated their preparedness to defy the police order and go ahead with the exercise since they are not embarking on a demonstration or anything that would affect the Public Order Act.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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