This morning, at a function organized by the first lady’s foundation, a protestor was arrested for holding a placard and detained at the Korle-bu Police station. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe the first lady should be protected but a citizen holding a placard poses no threat. At worse, he should be escorted from the premises and released. Fortunately, there are reports that he has been “cautioned and released”. He needed no caution. He was engaged in the very citizenship the President called for.
The Korle Bu police station invokes rather unpleasant memories for me. As a student leader, I was required to report to that station every morning for a year after I was charged with subversion and released on my own recognizance in 1984.
In 1977, when the PMFJ had an epochal rally in Kumasi, they were dispersed by soldiers with bullets and tear-gas, leaving many, including K.A. Gbedemah of CPP and NAL fame injured. That day, according to probably apocryphal accounts, the young, diminutive but bold General Secretary of the PMFJ set a record in 100 metres fleeing the soldiers. You know that young man. He is His Excellency, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo! Later, he was reported to have cried while consoling the family members of the Kume Preko victims. He and many leaders of the Danquah Busia tradition know first hand the dangers of dissenting as a citizen. During this 4th Republic, we have had Kume Preko, Agbogbloshie, Lamagushie, Atiwah and other instances of security forces attacking defenceless civilians. These things begin with the arrest of individuals— like Ken Agyapong and KOKU ANYIDOHO.
These outrages used to be a characteristic of the NDC, conceived by a violent man and nurtured in violence. The NPP used to brag about the presence of tolerance and the rule of law in our DNA. Let it stay that way.
A person holding a placard on healthcare while the first lady is speaking on healthcare is a citizen, not a lawbreaker. He deserves protection.
Finally, the police must stop sycophantic policing that creates grievances for those in opposition and poisons the well of our political space.
Long live our democracy.