Hundreds of Ghanaians yesterday defied the heavy rainfall to stage a demonstration at Afrikiko, a restaurant situated close to the Flagstaff House – the seat of Government.
The police, on hearing that the people had gathered at the place, quickly blocked all the roads leading to the Flagstaff House, prevented pedestrians and the media from walking towards the Afrikiko Restaurant direction.
The protest, organised by the Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance (CGRG) - a non-political group – was to express the people’s anger at the current hardship in the country which had stemmed from the poor management of the economy by Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
The demonstration, dubbed ‘Occupy Flagstaff House,’ begun around 8:00 am at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in Accra after the police had denied the protesters permission to picket in front of the Flagstaff House.
The protesters, who were largely middle class people, bore placards, some of which read, ‘The King Is Naked’, ‘Onukpa Be Shia!’ ‘Shame’, ‘Mahama Aden’, ‘Mahama Fix The Economy’ ‘Mr. President, You Have Failed Ghanaians,’ and ‘Y’ayÉ› DÉ›n?’
At the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, Ebo Sam, one of the organisers of the event, told the media that the protest had become necessary due to the economic hardship which was collapsing their businesses.
‘We want the President to know that we are suffering and so something urgently must be done to make Ghanaians happy,’ he charged.
Among the prominent people who participated in the demonstration were George Andah, former MTN Chief Marketing Officer; Kofi Bentil, Vice President of a local think-tank, IMANI Ghana; Dr. Esi Ansah, lecturer at the Ashesi University and Yoofi Grant of Databank.
Mr. George Andah said corruption should be stopped, explaining that the dire economic situation was compelling employers to increasingly parry employees whose salaries they had been unable to pay.
He asked the President to put right measures in place to turn things around for the nation.
Other protesters also asked the President to sack members of his government who were not performing and wasting the task payers’ money.
Protesters Argue With Police
The protesters bickered with the police insisting that they be allowed to march to the Flagstaff House to present their petition to President John Dramani Mahama.
The adamant police officers, who were armed to the teeth, created a hand-holding wall, preventing the protesters from gaining access to the road leading to the seat of Government.
After several hours of wrangling and agitation, the protestors, who were bent on presenting their petition to the President, dispersed. In spite of the police-protesters confrontation, some of the irate demonstrators converged in front of TV3, near the Flagstaff House in a bid to force their way through to their targeted destination.
They eventually succeeded in presenting their petition through six of the organisers. The Deputy Chief of Staff, Valery Sawyer, received the petition on behalf of the President, assuring the protesters that President Mahama would address their concerns.
Attempts to restrain the protestors resulted in some kind of struggle between them and the police – some of them were assaulted and three arrested and whisked away.
About three government officials, including Dr. Omane Boamah, approached the protesters to receive the petition on behalf of the President.
Police, Army Confrontation
When the protesters, including the media, the Police PRO and his assistant, got to the entrance of the Flagstaff House, there were heavily armed security men at the premises.
The Police PRO, DCOP Cephas Arthur and his Assistant, DSP Freeman Tettey, who tried to enter with some of the journalists, were prevented by the army officers guarding the gate.
According to them, they did not know the police officers and therefore could not allow them to enter the Flagstaff House, stating that until they received instructions from their superiors there was no way they would allow the two to enter.
This angered one of the police officers who approached the army officers and cautioned them to be mindful of their words. One of the soldiers informed his superiors that the Police PRO was seeking to enter without permission.
DSP Tettey, who seemed shocked by the behaviour of the army officers, was also seen arguing with one of the army officers at the gate.
After some few minutes, one army officer came to instruct the guards at the gate to allow DCOP Cephas Arthur and DSP Freeman Tettey to enter.
By Cephas Larbi
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