OccupyGhana® Expresses Regret At Special Prosecutor’s Resignation.

OccupyGhana® Expresses Regret At Special Prosecutor’s Resignation.

17th NOVEMBER 2020

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® EXPRESSES REGRET AT SPECIAL PROSECUTOR’S RESIGNATION.

OccupyGhana®️ has read with considerable disquiet the letter from Mr Martin Amidu dated 16th November 2020, resigning from office as the Special Prosecutor, the Chief of Staff’s letter dated 17th November 2020 which accepted the resignation, and the letter from the President’s Executive Secretary responding to facts in the said resignation letter.

OccupyGhana®️ and several Ghanaians were excited about the decision of the government to appoint a Special Prosecutor essentially to prosecute corruption and corruption-related offences in Ghana. Parliament had our full support when it passed the OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR ACT, 2017 (ACT 959). We were happy when Mr Martin Amidu, based on his impeccable credentials, was nominated, vetted and appointed to the position, and we have keenly followed developments relating to the office after he was appointed.

OccupyGhana®️ has always believed that of all the provisions in the OSP Act, probably the most important is section 4(1) which guarantees the independence of the office in the following words:

“Except as otherwise provided in the Constitution, THE OFFICE IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE DIRECTION OR CONTROL OF A PERSON OR AN AUTHORITY in the performance of the functions of the Office” [emphasis ours.]

We believe that the grant and assertion of this independence is at the foundation of the entire Special Prosecutor experiment. It is in similar words that the Constitution guarantees the independence of the Judiciary and other Constitutionally-Established Independent Bodies such as the Auditor-General and Electoral Commission. It is our firm belief that those words vest in those relevant bodies political, financial and administrative independence from government and any other person or authority. This is what led us to successfully apply to be allowed to file an Amicus Brief in the pending case of ISAAC WILBERFORCE MENSAH V AUDITOR-GENERAL & 2 OTHERS (SUIT NO J1/2/2019). We await the final judgment of the Supreme Court on that matter.

Outside the Constitution, we note that Parliament has recognised that such independence is a critical attribute for certain national institutions. It has therefore deployed the same words in several statutes to grant independence to critical institutions and entities such as Commissions of Inquiry, Bank of Ghana, Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, National Petroleum Authority, National Peace Council, Legal Aid Commission, Witness Protection Commission, and the recently established Right to Information Commission. The OSP is part of this list of entities.

And the meaning of those words are not in doubt. In October 1992, which was even before this Constitution came into force, the High Court held in BILSON V RAWLINGS [1993-94] 2 GLR 413 that those words “explicitly give complete independence from government.”

However, while the Constitution or statute may “give complete independence from government,” we expect that the persons appointed to those offices would also assert that independence whenever it is challenged. Without that, the legal provisions that grant independence would be meaningless, the offices would be surrendered to government control, and Ghana would be the ultimate loser for it.

Having perused Mr Martin Amidu’s letter, we believe that the main challenge had to do with his interaction with the Executive on his most recent corruption risk assessment report. Without commenting on the merits or otherwise of the matters in disagreement, we believe that Executive push back is to be expected in the work on all constitutional or statutory independent bodies. When it becomes an attempt to creep on turf, we believe the best option is to call the bluff of the Executive, assert the independence, stick to one’s guns and proceed with one’s mandate. If we do not do this then we have surrendered that precious independence, back to the Executive.

OccupyGhana®️ restates its support for the OSP and its independence from every other person or authority. The purpose behind all of these independent institutions under the law is to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. We expect there to be friction. Inherent in that inevitable friction is the expectation that each office holder would hold their ground so that in the healthy equilibrium of tension, Ghanaians would be protected from undue governmental authority.

That is why we are disappointed in both the resignation and its subsequent acceptance, which make it impossible for the decisions to be rescinded.

In the Service of God & Country

OccupyGhana®

Western Togoland Demands – OccupyGhana®️ Calls For (1) Addressing Of Legitimate Concerns, (2) Non-Negotiability Of National Territories, And (3) Prosecution Of Criminality

4th October 2020

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

Western Togoland Demands – OccupyGhana®️ Calls For (1) Addressing Of Legitimate Concerns, (2) Non-Negotiability Of National Territories, And (3) Prosecution Of Criminality

OccupyGhana®️ notes with very grave concern the emergence of a separatist or secessionist group composed by persons identifying themselves as ‘Western Togolanders’ in Ghana. We acknowledge the initial response of the Government in dealing with and containing the matter. However, we should not be lulled into a false sense of security, especially as an election approaches.

By this statement, we call on the Government to ascertain and address any legitimate demands that could be addressed, in the spirit of our shared nationhood. However, it should be clear to all that our nationhood and the territories of this nation are non-negotiable. And, individuals who have broken the law should be made to face the law.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

The legislative history leading to British Togoland becoming a part of Ghana is uncontestable. It starts from the August 1914 World War I British invasion (launched from the Gold Coast) of the western part of the then German colony of Togoland, the formal annexation in 1916, the 1919 Franco-British Declaration (modified by the 1929 Protocol), the 1922 League of Nations recognition of the British Mandate and the 1946 United Nations Togoland Trusteeship Agreement. It also involves the 1954 Gold Coast (Constitution) Order-In-Council, the 1955 UN General Assembly Resolution 944(X), the 1956 Plebiscite, the 1956 UN General Assembly Resolution 1044(XI), the 1957 Ghana Independence Act and the 6 March 1957 letter from Allan Noble, UK Foreign Secretary to the UN Secretary-General.

Notably, section 1 of the 1957 Ghana Independence Act (the legislation by which Britain granted independence) identified the new independent territory as ‘the Gold Coast as defined in and for the purposes of the Gold Coast (Constitution) Order-In-Council, 1954.’ Section 1(1) of this Order-In-Council defined ‘the Gold Coast’ as ‘the Gold Coast Colony, Ashanti and the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast; and for the purposes of this Order references to the Gold Coast shall be construed as including Togoland under United Kingdom Trusteeship.’

Having adopted this inclusive definition of ‘the Gold Coast,’ the Independence Act then provided that that ‘Gold Coast…SHALL as from [6 March 1957] TOGETHER FORM part of Her Majesty’s dominions under the name of Ghana,’ and that ‘as from [6 March 1957], Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom shall have no responsibility for the government of Ghana or any part thereof.’ It is therefore indisputable that the union, independence and renaming occurred under the same law, on same date, at the same time and by the same action. It is therefore blindingly obvious that the claim that some other or further document or action was required to unite the then British Togoland with the rest of the Gold Coast, is palpably baseless and profoundly false.

This is the legislative basis of the union under which Ghana emerged as a beautiful amalgam of various proud nations and peoples coming together under different circumstances. But of all the nations and peoples that became Ghana, it was only the people of the erstwhile British Togoland (comprising the Mamprusi, Dagomba, Gonja, Buem-Krachi, Ho and Kpandu Districts) who were given a choice, a say, a vote, in the decision whether or not become part of this great nation. They exercised this choice at the 1956 Plebiscite, which UN General Assembly Resolution 1044 said was ‘held in an atmosphere of freedom, impartiality and fairness,’ when a majority voted to unite with the then Gold Coast. That union was achieved on 6 March 1957 in accordance with the 1957 Ghana Independence Act. No one can undo what was done and how we became one nation.

ONE NATION, ONE PEOPLE…

We are one people under one flag and in one, indivisible nation that has preeminence over the several nations that we had belonged to. Although we recognise and celebrate our beautiful, varied, diverse and distinctive historical antecedents, languages, traditions and tribal authorities, Ghana has from its birth rejected formal, political delineations along tribal lines.

That is why the first post-Independence Parliament passed the 1957 Avoidance of Discrimination Act, which is still in force, and which ‘prohibit[s] organisations using or engaging in tribal, regional, racial or religious propaganda to the detriment of any other community, or securing the election of persons on account of their tribal, regional or religious affiliations.’ The punishment for flouting this Act is up to three years in prison.

The 1976 Prohibited Organisations Act was passed when similar secession cries emerged. That Act specifically declares as unlawful and prohibited, any organisation ‘howsoever called, whose objects include advocating and promoting the secession from the Republic of Ghana of the former British Mandated Territory of Togoland or part of that territory or the integration of that territory with a foreign territory.’ The Act also makes it an extra-territorial crime to belong to any such organisation or for it to meet, advertise, campaign, use slogans, and/or obtain support or financing. The punishment for flouting this Act is up to five years in prison.

Concerning the Ghana and her territories, the Fourth Republican Constitution (which we adopted, enacted and gave to ourselves with near-unanimity through the 28 April 1992 Referendum) provides that ‘The sovereign State of Ghana is a unitary republic consisting of those territories comprised in the regions which, immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution, existed in Ghana.’ It affirms that ‘all persons [are] equal before the law’ and prohibits discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin among others. It also places a duty on the State ‘to actively promote the integration of the peoples of Ghana and prohibit discrimination and prejudice on grounds of place of origin, circumstances of birth, ethnic origin’ among others.

This is who and what we are and shall remain.

CONCLUSIONS

We urge the Government to ascertain any relevant and justified grievances, and address those that are capable of being addressed. This would be proper and in line with the constitutional injunction on the State to ‘foster a spirit of loyalty to Ghana that overrides sectional, ethnic and other loyalties.’

However, we urge the Government to firmly assert that secession, separation or severing of any part of this great nation is a treasonous anathema that should not and cannot even be broached or be on the agenda. And, to the extent that the laws of Ghana (including our criminal laws) have been breached and broken in the wake or on the back of these demands, we urge the Government to prosecute any suspects to the fullest extent possible under those laws. Any brazenness of any illegal group should be matched with a strong enforcement of the law.

Still in the service of God and Country

OccupyGhana®

DEAR GHANA, HAVE WE DECIDED TO LIVE WITH THE VIRUS?

DEAR GHANA, HAVE WE DECIDED TO LIVE WITH THE VIRUS?

15th June 2020

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

DEAR GHANA, HAVE WE DECIDED TO LIVE WITH THE VIRUS?

The outbreak of COVID-19 surprised many leaders around the world. Several had to institute lockdowns in major parts of their countries to stem the spread of the virus. However, this led to massive economic downturns in their countries. To deal with this reality, several leaders have opened their countries up again and are countenancing an express or implied policy of ‘Living with the Virus.’

THE HEALTH REALITY IN GHANA

We acknowledge the initial successes that the government has had with containing the spread of COVID-19 within Ghana, which has even attracted the favourable attention of some international commentators. However, we should not be lulled into a false sense of security.

Ambulances are not showing up when people call 112. Tests are delayed on account of suspected depletion in reagents, short staffing etc. There’s a complete lack of candour from officialdom on infections. A good case in point is the real possibility that there is an outbreak of COVID-19 among parliamentarians and yet that fact is being hidden and all we get are conflicting statements and behaviour that is not in line with how to deal with this disease.

The case count is growing steadily by the day – about 200 to 300 new cases per day. At the last count, we had 7652 confirmed active cases even though that number could be higher (the total number of confirmed cases is 11,964.)

There is cause to suspect that the death numbers are being massaged. The reported 54 deaths so far cannot be right. For instance, even though 38 deaths have been reported from the Ashanti Region alone, less than 20 of those deaths are included in the national count!

If the public suspects under reporting etc, there will be a loss of trust in the reporting system and that will have consequences that will influence public behavioural responses.

Several healthcare workers have been infected and some have died, sadly. This points to the sad fact that our doctors and nurses and frontline health workers do not have adequate PPE. Our holding and treatment facilities are running out of space and just a few days ago, the Special Advisor on Health at the Presidency lamented the fact that we do not have enough critical care staff. We also do not have enough critical care beds.

Hospitals are getting overwhelmed with spill overs of designated areas for suspected and confirmed cases into emergency rooms and wards otherwise not assigned. The result of this, with delays in getting test results, is a desperate attempt to shorten hospital stay and increase availability of bed space by discharging patients before the post-treatment test results. The unfortunate occurrence, which has led to some being discharged with their repeat tests coming back positive after their discharge. This is disheartening and should not be allowed as we seek to fight this pandemic with professionalism and integrity.

Contact tracing is not being done at the levels needed anymore. The government must answer allegations that because contact tracers were paid GHS70 instead of the promised GHS150 per day, they have walked out. The result is that there isn’t much contact tracing going on at the moment.

And yet we, Ghanaians, are not doing the things that have been shown to reduce the spread of the disease – no physical or social distancing and an unwillingness to wear face masks. Even elected and other high-ranking government officials are guilty of this. The country’s success in suppressing the spread of this disease was due in part to the early and aggressive lockdown strategy, minimising the opportunity for transmission of the disease in strategic areas. If the lockdown is not economically feasible, should we not be pursuing other measures that reduce transmission and do not affect the economy as much?

REOPENING PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Following that line of thought, is it a wise decision to reopen schools even if it is just for Forms 2 and 3 SHS, Form 3 JHS and final-year students in our tertiary institutions?

We acknowledge that to ensure social distancing, the President directed that JHS 3 classes are to comprise of a maximum of 30 students and SHS classes a maximum of 25 students. Prior to the students arriving, the schools are supposed to be fumigated and disinfected. Once the students arrive, each student, teacher and non-teaching staff are to be provided with re-usable face masks by the Ministry of Education.

Yet we worry about the wisdom and safety of this measure, looking at how fast the disease is spreading now. The belief that the virus does not affect children is false. Children and teenagers do get the disease and then spread it to adults who are more vulnerable. Also, the virus induces an inflammatory condition in children and teenagers that can be deadly.

Looking at the behaviour of the general Ghanaian population, how sure are we that the JHS and SHS students are going to wear their masks and social-distance not only in the classrooms but also when they leave the classrooms and in the dormitories? How good is personal hygiene going to be at a time when it is of utmost importance? For instance, are all schools going to be assured of the running water needed for the basic hand-washing protocol?

If we are not careful, these schools could turn into hotspots for disease transmission and the students could become super-spreaders.

Of course, students have been impacted by lockdown. Their learning has been affected, even where there are robust online and at-home lessons underway. But at this point in the school year, is it really worth the risk of reopening schools? If the whole aim is for them to finish their exams, can we put resources into getting students to take these exams online? How about students being given time-bound extended essays and/or open book examinations to write at home? How about combining all of those with continuous assessment grades to arrive at a final exam score for all such students?

We are asking these questions because we do not think that the need to get the students to be physically present for exams is worth the risk of having the disease break out in our schools. We are not convinced that if students get sick in schools, there are adequate resources to test and treat them.

CONCLUDING COMMENTS

If the government has decided to pursue a policy of ‘living with the virus,’ then the healthcare system and the population should be prepped for this. Let’s just remember that Sweden tried the method and has one the highest levels of deaths per million in the world.

We acknowledge the renewed emphasis on enforcing social distancing and the wearing of masks. This should be across the board and must include all government officials. They have to lead by example.

Large social gatherings should be continued to be banned.

We should re-dedicate resources into testing and contact tracing.

Recent studies have shown that not all patients who get severely ill need ventilators. We should invest in cheaper non-invasive oxygen therapy solutions.

Also, the use of convalescent plasma has been shown to reduce mortality. The Ministry of Health should start an aggressive push to harvest and store plasma from recovered patients.

At the start of this outbreak, Ghana showed the world that we could do a lot with the little we had. This took resolve and great leadership. We should not lose that now when the stakes may be much higher.

For God and Country

OccupyGhana®

COVID-19 – ARE WE READY?

1st March 2020

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

COVID-19 – ARE WE READY?

Since the very first patient reported to a hospital in Wuhan China on 1 December 2019, the COVID-19 virus has led to 87,586 confirmed infections and 2989 reported deaths worldwide as at 1 March 2020.

Wuhan in the Hubei Province in China is the epicentre of this outbreak that is reaching pandemic status and even though cases have been reported from 57 countries so far, China remains the country with the most cases and deaths.

In the last week or two, Iran, Italy and South Korea have reported an increasing number of cases too.

Until last week, no cases had been reported from countries in sub-Saharan Africa. However, that changed when an Italian travelled to Nigeria from Milan, Italy (the epicentre of the outbreak there) and was found to be positive for a COVID-19 infection. This shows that it is only a matter of time until cases are seen in Ghana too. With the amount of travel between countries in the sub-region and also between the region and Europe, we in Ghana are bound, sooner or later, to see cases.

That is why the country needs to be prepared if an outbreak should occur.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) recently released a paper detailing its degree of preparedness. The efforts to prepare for and deal with a possible outbreak of COVID-19 are being spearheaded by the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) with help from units like a Rapid Response Team (RRT). We commend all involved in those efforts. However, we cannot escape the fact that the nation’s health sector is weak and not well-resourced. This means that our preparedness for epidemics and/or pandemics may not be the most optimal. The 2019 Global Health Security Index, published by Johns Hopkins and the Nuclear Threat Initiative ranked Ghana 105th out of 195 on preparedness for epidemics and pandemics.

Notwithstanding these odds, Ghana has been able to deal with outbreaks like H1N1 influenza and cholera; so the ability is there.

Thus, where a possible COVID-19 outbreak is concerned, thought must be given to what to do when our resources are stretched to the maximum. There must be a Plan B. With this Press Release OccupyGhana® seeks to explore that.

In planning for a possible COVID-19 outbreak, OccupyGhana® suggests that Ghana considers the following variables:

1 – Surveillance;

2 – Containment;

3 – Prevention;

4 – Testing;

5 – Treatment;

6 – Coordination; and

7 – Finance.

 

  1. SURVEILLANCE

Since COVID-19 started and is spreading outside Ghana, keeping an eye on travellers to Ghana from the countries with outbreaks of the virus is of utmost importance. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) in collaboration with the respective stakeholders is already monitoring travellers at our ports-of-entry. Since patients infected with the virus may not show symptoms in the first 14 days, the combination of temperature monitoring and the use of the health declaration form is a good idea. To ensure that surveillance at these ports-of-entry are done properly, the calibre of medical staff manning these health post must meet international standards.

In our places of work and worship, in our schools and universities, we should all be on the lookout for those who may appear ill and ask them to seek treatment or to self-quarantine.

Surveillance testing is another important yet expensive part of dealing with an outbreak. The Chinese surmised that COVID-19 could be circulating more broadly and undetected in the community, especially in patients with fever, flu-like or SARS-like symptoms. Thus, they tested broadly and widely, including all who showed these symptoms and those who presented to their fever clinics. In Guangdong Province, by 24 February 2020, 320,000 suspected cases had been tested. 420 patients tested positive, giving a yield of about 0.14%. Given our economic means, surveillance testing may not be feasible.

  1. CONTAINMENT

Quarantining those who are suspected of having the virus either because they travelled to a high-risk area and/or have had contact with a person with the virus is one of the best ways of preventing the spread of the disease. The only known quarantine centre we have is a 100-bed new hospital. Thought must be given to finding alternatives. Could finished but unused public housing be commandeered for this purpose? Other unused hospitals? What about tents or converted containers?

Another option is for patients to self-quarantine at home. This calls for a high level of discipline on the part of patients. Maybe law-enforcement could be used to ensure isolation is adhered to. The police and even the army may be necessary in those instances where whole communities or even towns may need to be isolated.

  1. PREVENTION

That can go a long way to reduce the contraction and spread of the virus. Enough cannot be said about personal hygiene including the washing of hands for at least 20 seconds and keeping a safe distance of at least 1 meter from persons with symptoms. The use of face masks by infected patients may reduce the spread of droplets when they cough or sneeze.

People who fall sick with symptoms that may be due to COVID-19 should consider not going to work, school or even church. They should avoid large gatherings.

In this, public education assumes a very important role. Constant education of the public through TV, radio and social media would be very helpful.

Events that call for large gatherings – funerals, church services, campaign rallies, sporting events – may need to be curtailed.

Ghana’s experience from the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 when the 1st confirmed case reported at a private clinic in Accra should teach us that the frontline primary care facilities could well be where the first case would be picked up. Private facilities are the first option for foreigners and this could be the route for community entry and transmission of COVID-19. Even preliminary checks by OccupyGhana®’s Medical Team suggest that preparedness at the front-line facilities is poor. Being prepared means making sure front-line clinics and polyclinics have the logistics and supplies needed to screen, catch and hold suspected cases until help is received from the Rapid Response Team. Currently, even though some training has been done, no additional support like Personal Protective Equipment has been made available at this level.

Several numbers have been made available for a hotline. Maybe there should be just one number made up of 3 easy-to-remember digits. Also, these numbers cannot be the personal phone numbers of medical personnel.

  1. TESTING

Testing is now being done at just two places – Noguchi Memorial Institute and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research. The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) should ensure that all frontline clinics know what to do when a patient shows up with symptoms suspicious of COVID-19 infection.

These clinics should have holding rooms for such cases. The personnel should also have protective gear that allows them take samples from the patient that the Rapid Response Team can then pick up. Having an easy-to-remember hotline number helps.

  1. TREATMENT

Tema General and Ridge hospitals have been designated as the two hospitals for isolating and treating these patients. Four other facilities (Ga East, Police, LEKMA and Korle-Bu Teaching Hospitals) have been identified as additional facilities to support case management.

However, are these isolation and treatment centres ready and able to accept and manage confirmed cases? Do they have adequate stocks of oxygen, ventilators and other vital equipment? We were surprised to learn that until a few days ago, Tema General Hospital had no running water. We were also shocked to learn about how Korle Bu Hospital, a designated support centre for COVID-19 buckled under when its lack of readiness was exposed by 2 suspected cases. How can we trust that these designated centres are up to the task?

COVID-19 can lead to severe pneumonia and even Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). These complications call for intubation and ventilation in the intensive care setting. Ghana has very few ventilators nationally. The health system could get very overwhelmed quickly if there is an outbreak of COVID-19. Without an acute expansion of our intensive care capabilities in the next few days, we need to realise that not everyone who will need life support is going to get one. So, for the future we urge the government to expand our intensive care capabilities and also set up at least 1, preferably 2 specialised hospitals for Infectious Diseases management and research. These emergent viral diseases are here to stay.

Lastly, so as not to overload our already crowded medical facilities, those with mild symptoms should be advised to stay home. That will all depend on the level of education that is done.

  1. COORDINATION

The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) which was set up during the Ebola epidemic was dismantled after that outbreak died out. That should never have happened. Ghana is constantly buffeted by infectious disease outbreaks and the ability to deal with them on a large scale should be maintained at all times. However, per the statement from the GHS recently, another EOC has been set up in the wake of COVID-19. Moreover, the Incident Commander of the EOC or a surrogate should maintain open lines of communication with the general public. It helps inform, diffuse anxiety and counter mis-information. There’s also the need to prepare a COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan now and explore access mechanisms as WHO has already deemed Ghana to be among the high-risk African countries.

  1. FINANCES

Government initially declared an emergency provision of GHS2.5m for COVID-19 preparation. Subsequently, the MOH/GHS EOC estimated a budget of about GHS35m. It is understood that an initial GHS2.5m is in the pipeline. The slow pace of MOH/GHS mobilisation is very worrying as COVID-19 is a global emergency.

In conclusion, although Ghana may not be as prepared as a lot of developed nations, OccupyGhana® believes that if we consider the above, use our resources well, think outside the box and figure out alternatives, we might just avert a disaster should there be a COVID-19 outbreak.

In the Service of God and Country

OccupyGhana®

The Case of the Missing Galamsey Excavators

29 JANUARY 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE MEDIA COALITION AGAINST GALAMSEY AND OCCUPYGHANA

THE CASE OF THE MISSING GALAMSEY EXCAVATORS

Accra, January 29, 2019 – The Media Coalition Against Galamsey, OccupyGhana, and we believe, most Ghanaians, are disappointed and saddened by the revelation by the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Frimpong Boateng that hundreds of seized Galamsey excavators have disappeared from District Assemblies around the country.

Our deep concern at this revelation stems from the fact that the authorities have simply once again failed to follow and enforce the law. The inability of the government to enforce the law, from the facts as we know them, is only matched by the brazenness of the illegal miners.

We have a number of questions for the government that require answers; and we respectfully demand those answers.

First, under the 2006 Minerals and Mining Act, it is illegal for anyone to “erect equipment… for the purpose of mining” without being the holder of either a mining lease or a small-scale mining licence. Everyone who does this commits an offence. The government has to explain to Ghanaians whether the persons from whom the equipment was allegedly seized were also arrested. If that did not happen, the government should explain why it did not happen. Or, were the illegal miners also allowed to disappear just like the equipment?

Second, the law then provides that upon the arrest of illegal miners, the equipment they were using “shall, regardless of the ownership…, be seized and kept in the custody of the police.” It is for very good reason that the law demands that the equipment should be kept by the police, and no other institution. The government therefore has to explain to Ghanaians why the equipment allegedly seized was kept with District Assemblies and not the police. Was this deliberate? Was this to make it very easy for the equipment to simply ‘disappear’? Did anyone take an inventory of the seized equipment and if so where is that inventory? Which public officers were responsible for flouting the law?

Third, the Act demands that the arrested persons should be tried in court and then upon conviction, the court is empowered to “order the forfeiture of any equipment… seized.” The government has to explain to Ghanaians whether the persons from whom the equipment was seized were duly prosecuted, and if not, why not? Without prosecution, the seized equipment cannot be forfeited in the manner the law demands. Are any prosecutions still taking place? If so, have there been any convictions? And if so, did the courts order forfeiture? Is the government able to publish a report on these matters?

Fourth, the Act provides that within 60 days of the confiscation, the Minister for Mines shall “allocate the equipment… to the appropriate state institution and publish in the Gazette the name of the state institution to which the equipment… is allocated.” We do not need to ask this question because it is pretty obvious to all of us that this has not happened.

Fifth, the Roadmap For Lifting of Ban on Artisanal & Small Scale Mining & the Way Forward policy document says in section 3.2.1 bullet 3 that there shall be a “Directive by the Government/IMCIM to move all earth moving mining equipment for artisanal and small-scale mining to designated areas for subsequent registration and installation of tracking devices. This will be done under the direct supervision of the Regional Ministers prior to the vetting of artisanal and small-scale mining companies”. Obviously from the statement of the Minister this directive has not been implemented.

Also, section 3.2.5 states that “The Minerals Commission in collaboration with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) have been tasked to register and install tracking devices on earth moving equipment to ensure that the use of equipment at inappropriate locations are monitored and reported. A committee was formed to deal with the registration and installation of tracking device on the earth moving mining equipment.” Has this provision been implemented? If it had, these excavators would have been registered and could be tracked making it impossible for them to be stolen. Can the government explain to Ghanaians why this has not happened?

And, sixth, we also need to know from the government whether all existing mining leases and small-scale licences have now been submitted to Parliament for ratification as is required under both the Constitution and the Minerals and Mining Act.

Considering the above and the revelation by the Minister, the government should be as unhappy as we are, and more so. If the government with all the power and force at its disposal is unwilling to or incapable of implementing and enforcing its own laws, then it gives a signal to potential wrongdoers that we have no respect for the rule of law; it is just something we mention to others to make us feel good. That is why the nation is still under brazen attack from illegal miners. They know that we make noise and even deploy our military, but we have no teeth to bite. Nowhere is this more evident than the blatant illegal mining at the place called “Dollar Power,” and the apparent inability or unpreparedness of the government to enforce the law there. This and the impunity it connotes should be a scar on our conscience.

We are therefore not surprised that the War Against Galamsey is generally accepted to be failing. Operation Vanguard has all but petered out. That is unacceptable. We call on the government to shake itself out of its stupor and enforce the mining law without fear or favour. We also call on the media and civil society organizations to reawaken, hold leadership to account and reinvigorate the #StopGalamsey war.

Losing this war is not an option. Irresponsible and unsustainable mining is an existential threat and should not be countenanced.

Issued by:

Media Coalition Against Galamsey
OccupyGhana

OccupyGhana® Demands Return Of Government Vehicles Illegally Sold To Political Appointees

OccupyGhana® Demands Return Of Government Vehicles Illegally Sold To Political Appointees

27TH JANUARY 2020

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® DEMANDS RETURN OF GOVERNMENT VEHICLES ILLEGALLY SOLD TO POLITICAL APPOINTEES

OccupyGhana® has read reports of a statement by President John Mahama on 17 January 2020 that if he is elected back to office, he would “to put an immediate and permanent end to the purchase of duty post vehicles by political appointees,” and that “Government vehicles will remain government vehicles.” On this matter there appears to be unusual unanimity among the two leading contestants, as President Akufo-Addo is also reported to have told ministers on 11 April 2017 that “No official is any longer going to have the opportunity to buy any official car, so that we put an end to [the constant buzz], ‘Where are the cars? Where are the cars?’ Nobody is going to have that capacity anymore.”

While we at OccupyGhana® wholeheartedly agree with these pronouncements, we have grave reservations that must be addressed. Simply, we are not satisfied with bare promises and assurances of executive action. We believe that this is a matter where government is simply required to respect and comply with the law as laid down in the 2003 Public Procurement Act, as amended in 2016.

Therefore, we demand proof that the government followed that law in the sale of a massive 361 government vehicles to “political appointees” between 29 December 2016 and 6 January 2017, or a return of all of those vehicles to the government for due process to be complied with and proper value realised for them. The law that applied in 2016 is that which applies now. If the law was breached then with no consequences and sanctions, there is no guarantee that it would not be breached again. That is why these the “never again” assurances provide cold comfort and ring hollow to us.

When the Public Procurement Act was passed in 2003, it introduced under its Part Eight (sections 83 and 84) a mandatory procedure for disposing of government “stores, plant and equipment.” That procedure involved establishing a Board of Survey, obtaining a Technical Report and Recommendations, and ultimately, the sale of only “obsolete or surplus items” by public tender to the highest tenderer or public auction subject to a reserve price.

While several citizens were in no doubt that this law applied to the sale of government vehicles, successive governments still disposed of such vehicles especially to their appointees after every election, without recourse to the law. The ridiculous and risible excuse from those governments was that the words “stores, plant and equipment” in the law did not specifically apply to vehicles.

However, with pressure from civil society and several others, in June 2016, Parliament finally amended section 83 of, and introduced a new section 83A to, the 2003 Public Procurement Act, so that the mandatory procedure for disposing of government assets would specifically apply to government vehicles.

Thereafter, one would have expected that the government would comply with this new law. However, in a period of just nine days starting from 29 December 2016 and ending on the night before the handover of power on 7 January 2017, and while Ghanaians were focused on the political transition, there was this massive sale of government vehicles to departing political appointees in apparent disregard and breach of the law, at an average of 40 cars per day!

On 28 March 2017, we wrote to both the Chief of Staff and the Administrator-General under our right to information under Article 21(1)(f) of the Constitution, inquiring whether the government followed the law in those disposals. It was within weeks of this letter and while we were awaiting responses that President Akufo-Addo announced the ban.

When after several months of more waiting we did not receive a response from either office, we sent reminders on 30 January 2018. This time we received a response from the Administrator-General on 7 February 2018 providing us with a schedule and details of 361 “vehicles disposed of as end-of-service benefits to political appointees,” the names of the beneficiaries, and how much they were sold for.

If the breach of the law was surprising, then the prices at which the vehicles were sold told shocking story. For instance a Toyota Camry registered in 2014 was sold to a political appointee in 2016 for GHS12,500. A Toyota Corolla commissioned in 2013 and registered in 2015 was sold to another political appointee for GHS6,000. Another Toyota Corolla, commissioned and registered in 2016 was sold for GHS6,100 to an appointee. A one-year old Nissan Sunny went to an appointee for GHS7,500. In another instance, a Toyota Avensis was sold for just GHS1,200 to another appointee. BMWs were sold to the more prominent appointees at between GHS25,000 and GHS45,000.

In the absence of the Technical Report that the law demands, it is impossible to ascertain if these vehicles were even or duly classified as “obsolete and surplus.” What has become apparent is that there was no Board of Survey or Technical Report. There certainly were no public tenders or public auctions. The vehicles were simply handed over to political appointees at ‘yor kɛ gari’ prices, all in flagrant breach of the law.

That is why in the Administrator-General’s 7 February 2018 letter, he tellingly stated that he could not provide information on whether the disposals complied with the mandatory procedure imposed by law, and then directed us to seek answers to this from the Office of the Chief of Staff. That office has never responded to us. When on 14 February 2018 we wrote back to the Administrator-General demanding data on disposal of assets since 2003, he responded on 15 February 2018 to say that his office did not have that data since it only came into existence in 2013.

Our further letter to the President dated 17 July 2018 demanding a full-scale inquiry into the matter has received neither a response nor any action. The lack of response is particularly worrying when viewed against the fact that section 92 of the Act criminalises breaches of its provisions and makes offenders (i.e. officials and beneficiaries) liable to be jailed for up to five years.

It is in the light of the above that we remain unconvinced by the assurances made by the immediate past president and the current president to end this practice. We note that they still fail to acknowledge the sheer illegality of it. That is why we believe that the best way to assure Ghanaians that this practice is or will be a thing of the past, would be to satisfy Ghanaians that the December 2016 sale of 361 government vehicles was in accordance with the law. If not, we expect the government to rescind those sales forthwith and then compel compliance with the law.

We call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support our demands especially in the light of our shared constitutional duty under Article 41(f) “to protect and preserve public property and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property.”

We believe that in the coming elections, Ghanaians will judge the parties, especially those that are in power or have been in power before, not just by the sweetness of their promises and assurances, but by their deeds concerning the same matters about which they seek to make promises and give assurances.

Still in the service of God and Country.

OccupyGhana®

CONSTITUTION DAY: IT IS TIME TO TAKE THE ASSETS AND LIABILITIES DECLARATION REGIME SERIOUSLY

7th January 2020

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

CONSTITUTION DAY: IT IS TIME TO TAKE THE ASSETS AND LIABILITIES DECLARATION REGIME SERIOUSLY

OccupyGhana® salutes Ghanaians on the 26th anniversary of the coming into force of the Fourth Republican Constitution. Marking 7th January as ‘Constitution Day’ is intended to acknowledge Ghana’s collective efforts at ensuring that the tenets of democracy, rule of law and principles of constitutionalism are upheld. This has been the longest spell of constitutional democracy since independence, and it is no mean achievement.

On this auspicious day we would want to highlight, once again, an aspect of our Constitution that has been largely ignored by successive governments, but which is currently being forced to the front burner of our national discourse by the Auditor-General: the declaration of assets and liabilities by public office holders.

Our position is summarised as follows:

(i) affected officers must file the declarations at the specific times prescribed by the Constitution (for which reason the six-month extension granted by statute is unconstitutional and must be repealed),

(ii) the over 40,000 public officers in default must be compelled to comply forthwith, and

(iii) the Auditor-General must end the unconstitutional system of secret, unverified declarations.

TIME FOR FILING

The Constitution expressly and mandatorily requires that prescribed office holders must declare their assets and liabilities to the Auditor-General (i) before taking office, (ii) on every fourth anniversary thereafter, and (iii) at the end of a person’s term of office. We demand strict compliance with these mandatory timelines.

That is why we remain convinced that the provision in section 1(4) of Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act, 1998 (Act 550), which gives a 6-month extension for making declarations, is unconstitutional and void.

We therefore repeat our invitation to the government to take immediate steps to repeal this offending provision, without us having to proceed to the Supreme Court to have it struck down as unconstitutional.

PRESCRIBED OFFICERS

The Constitution prescribed specific public office holders who were to declare, and allowed Parliament to extend the coverage to other public office holders. This is what Parliament did when it passed Act 550, Schedule 1 of which contains the extended list.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of public office holders have simply failed, refused or neglected to make the declarations. From our conservative estimates, more than 40,000 public officers are currently in breach of the law.

While we were contemplating legal action against every public office holder in breach, we became aware of the Auditor-General’s 31st December 2019 Circular that announced that henceforth the declarations would be considered part of audits and that offending officers shall be reported to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice for action as required by article 287 of the Constitution.

Since then we have become aware of some frantic and even desperate efforts by some heads of affected institutions to ensure compliance within those institutions. We commend this to every institution mentioned in the law. As the saying goes, “better late than never.”

We also welcome this bold move by the Auditor-General and we give it our full and unalloyed commendation and support.

END OF SECRET DECLARATIONS

The fact is that even in the relatively few circumstances where declarations have been made, they have been made in sealed envelopes to the Auditor-General and remain unopened, unaudited and unverified.

However an automatic audit or verification would ascertain whether (i) the assets and liabilities were declared in accordance with the law, (ii) the assets declared actually exist, so as to prevent ‘assumptive’ declarations (where the person declares non-existing assets now, based on the assumption that through corruption those assets may be acquired later), (iii) the declarations were submitted within the time provided by the Constitution, and (iv) any new assets were acquired or liabilities discharged while in office, so that an inquiry may be conducted into whether those assets or the means to settle the declared liabilities were genuinely acquired.

Sadly, successive Auditors-General have not considered it part of their obligations under the Constitution to open the sealed envelopes, let alone verify or audit their contents.

We reiterate our position that there is nothing in article 286 that supports the current “secret declaration,” which is a contradiction in terms. The concept of a “secret declaration” that remains uninspected in the hands of the Auditor-General is not just alien to the Constitution but an anathema, and is therefore unconstitutional.

Verification by the Auditor-General is the only way to give life to article 286(3) as follows:

“Any property or assets acquired by a public officer after the initial declaration required by clause (1) of this article and which is not reasonably attributable to income, gift, loan, inheritance or any other reasonable source shall be deemed to have been acquired in contravention of this Constitution.”

The current stance therefore flies in the face of the probity, accountability and transparency provisions in the Preamble to the Constitution, negates the mandatory obligation placed on the state under article 35(8) “to eradicate corrupt practices,” and claws back the duty placed on citizens by article 41 “to protect and preserve public property and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property.”

CONCLUSION

This is the fifth time that OccupyGhana® is raising the issue of assets and liabilities declaration. We believe that the government must take the lead in this matter and simply ensure that affected officers comply with the law. Further, we do not think that the government wants to wait for years of litigation before simply repealing the six-month extension for the declarations.

While saluting and congratulating Ghanaians on the 26th anniversary of the Fourth Republican Constitution, we wish to remind ourselves that there is a lot more to do to safeguard the Constitution and make its provisions relevant.

We once again invite all Ghanaians to occupy our spaces because if each of us does a little, together we will do a lot.

Still in the service of God and Country

OccupyGhana®

OCCUPYGHANA® HAILS CONSTITUTIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF AUDITOR-GENERAL

12TH DECEMBER 2019

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® HAILS CONSTITUTIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF AUDITOR-GENERAL

OccupyGhana® has closely followed the story about the Auditor-General disallowing a one million dollar payment and surcharging the Senior Minister with that amount.

We have also seen a statement dated 11th December 2019, issued by the Senior Minister in which he states his disagreement with the Disallowance and Surchage and communicates his intention to challenge them in court.

We do not think that these momentous developments in our history ought to pass without comment.

This is probably the first time in this Fourth Republic (and possibly in Ghana’s political history) that an Auditor-General has dared to issue a Disallowance and then Surcharge a minister; and no less a minister than the Senior Minister.

And under the constitutional dispensation that we are blessed with, the Auditor-General who issued the Disallowance and Surcharge cannot mysteriously disappear. He cannot be shut up. He cannot be arrested or lose his job for doing his work. Rather, people he surcharges (whoever they are) have no option but to work under the principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law, and to challenge the Auditor-General in court.

When in November 2014, OccupyGhana began the fight to compel the Auditor-General to exercise the constitutionally-mandated powers of Disallowance and Surcharge, our biggest obstacle was the several naysayers who were convinced that we had no case and would lose. But we were confident because our cause was just and our course was right. We were fortified in our simple argument: that where the Constitution donates a power and prescribes the circumstances under which the power is to be exercised, it is a breach of the Constitution if that power is never exercised. We were convinced that especially where the Auditor-General himself issued annual reports showing the routine illegal dissipation of Ghana’s resources, the non-use of the power to check that wrong was in and of itself an abuse of the power.  We therefore urged the Supreme Court to interpret the empowering word “may” in the Constitution as the imperative “shall,” so that whenever the Auditor-General discovers what he considers to be a wrongful use of Ghana’s money, he would be mandatorily required to disallow and surcharge.

When on 21st June 2016 the Supreme Court came out with a judgment that granted each of the five reliefs we had sought, we knew that the history of public sector accountability in Ghana had changed forever. But the Supreme Court was not done. It gave one further relief that we had not even asked for, as follows: “Finally, the Attorney-General is hereby ordered to take all necessary steps to enforce the decisions or steps taken by the Auditor-General…to ensure compliance including in some cases criminal prosecutions.”

 

Going to court cost us a lot in terms of energy, time and resources. But Ghana was and remains the winner from our convictions and resolve.

We do not know as yet the legal route that the Senior Minister plans to take in his promised challenge. However, if it is an appeal under the new Order 54A of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004 (CI 47), then we are even more gratified because we were proud to work on and submit the original draft that gestated into the Bill, which was adopted by the Rules of Court Committee and passed by Parliament as the High Court (Civil Procedure) (Amendment) (No. 2) Rules, 2016 (CI 102), and which we have happily named “the OccupyGhana Rules.”

We believe that in the final analysis, if the Auditor-General erred in the Disallowance and Surcharge against the Senior Minister, the court will say so. However, if he was right, the court will also say so and hold the Senior Minister liable to pay the money paid under the transaction to the state.

That is democracy. That is constitutionalism. That is the rule of law. Ultimately, when the story of Ghana is told, it ought to end with three words: “…and Ghana won.”.

Yours in the service of God and Country,

OccupyGhana®

OCCUPYGHANA® DEMANDS ASSETS AND LIABILITIES DECLARATION BY OVER 40,000 AFFECTED PUBLIC OFFICERS

16th OCTOBER, 2019

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® DEMANDS ASSETS AND LIABILITIES DECLARATION BY OVER 40,000 AFFECTED PUBLIC OFFICERS

NON-COMPLIANCE
Article 286 of the Constitution demands the declaration of assets and liabilities by the occupants of certain public offices under three circumstances: (1) upon appointment, (2) every four years, and (3) at the end of the appointment. This provision has become notorious for the breach of it rather than compliance with it.

Often, the discourse has focused on the political offices that article 286(5) specifically mentions. Scant attention has been paid to the chairpersons, MDs and CEOs, General Managers and Departmental Heads in public corporations and companies “in which the State has a controlling interest,” who are also covered. Possibly no attention is paid to the category the Constitution specified as “such officers in the public service and any other public institution as Parliament may prescribe.”

In the Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act, 1998 (Act 550), Parliament prescribed several additional, covered officers including officers “in any other public office or public institution other than the Armed Forces, the salary attached to which is equivalent to or above the salary of a Director in the Civil Service.”

From preliminary and raw data to which we are privy, the number of public officers who fall within this ‘salary-based requirement’ but who do not comply with the mandatory declaration of assets and liabilities exceeds 40,000.

In the Ministry of Education alone, over 5,000 officers are covered. Others include the Ministries of Finance and Health, each of which has over 3,000 officers covered. Each of the Ministry of Interior, Ghana Health Service and Controller and Accountant General’s Department has over 1000 officers covered. The Audit Service has well over 600 officers affected.

When we apply the ‘salary-based requirement’ to officers of the various other Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Authorities, Commissions, Councils, Boards, Services, Institutes, Organisations, Secretariats, Colleges, Programs, Diplomatic Missions, and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, then our 40,000 estimate appears extremely conservative. The actual figure could exceed 10% of all public servants.

The effect is that all of these public officers are in breach of article 286 of the Constitution and should be facing sanctions under article 287.

ONLINE DECLARATIONS
The sheer volume of declarations required brings into sharp focus the capacity of the Auditor-General to receive the declarations and then verify them to ensure that the correct declarations are made. The statutory requirement for obtaining, completing and submitting hard copy forms is clearly obsolete and impractical, and a fetter to both compliance and the Auditor-General’s audit and verification responsibilities.

We therefore call upon the Government to, as a matter of extreme urgency, procure necessary, appropriate and robust software that will make it easy both for affected officers to comply by simply filling the forms online and for the Auditor-General to audit and verify the declarations made. We also call for the immediate amendment of Act 550 to provide statutory support for the online declaration regime, if deemed necessary.

CONCLUDING COMMENTS
In our press release on Assets and Liabilities Declaration issued on January 28, 2018, we stated that the Auditor-General’s post-declaration audit and verification function, which to the best of our knowledge have never happened, are critical to ascertain whether the assets and liabilities are declared in accordance with the law, upon the assumption the public officer assuming office. The audit and verification would investigate whether the assets declared actually exist, so as to prevent ‘assumptive’ declarations, where the person declares non-existing assets now, based on the assumption that through corruption those assets may be acquired later. The audit and verification would also determine whether the declarations were submitted within the time provided by the Constitution, and whether any new assets were acquired or liabilities discharged while in office, so that an inquiry may be conducted into whether those assets or the means to settle the declared liabilities were acquired genuinely.

We repeat that the only way to give voice and flesh to article 286 is to equip the Auditor-General to verify and audit declarations that are submitted, or at least a sample of them.

We once again call on the Auditor-General to outline a verification and audit procedure that reflects the true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, particularly article 286, in line with the above, and implement it forthwith.

Yours in the service of God and Country

OccupyGhana®

OCCUPYGHANA® CONDEMNS POLICE BRUTALITIES AGAINST DEMONSTRATING LAW STUDENTS AND DEMANDS REFORMS TO PROFESSIONAL LEGAL EDUCATION

OCCUPYGHANA® CONDEMNS POLICE BRUTALITIES AGAINST DEMONSTRATING LAW STUDENTS AND DEMANDS REFORMS TO PROFESSIONAL LEGAL EDUCATION

9th OCTOBER, 2019

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® CONDEMNS POLICE BRUTALITIES AGAINST DEMONSTRATING LAW STUDENTS AND DEMANDS REFORMS TO PROFESSIONAL LEGAL EDUCATION

POLICE BRUTALITIES

OccupyGhana® is appalled by the brutal assault that the Police meted out to unarmed and peacefully demonstrating law students and their sympathisers on Monday, October 7, 2019. We have seen footages and photographs that show several infractions against the rule of law and of humaneness on the part of the Police. This Police high-handedness and brutality against students exercising nothing more than their constitutional right to demonstrate and air out their grievances makes a mockery of the democracy we claim to respect, and we wish to unequivocally announce our disgust with that turn of events and to condemn same in no uncertain terms.

We have closely studied the Police Statement on the matter which, to all intents and purposes, is a poor attempt to throw dust in the faces of Ghanaians concerning a true and accurate account of the day. For instance, how does the Police Service explain how the protestors somehow procured arsenals of stones to hurl at Police officers on the Independence Road stretch between the Canadian Consulate to the Golden Jubilee House? How is it possible, in 2019, for the police to call an exercise of the constitutional right to assembly “illegal” when police permits are not required to stage a demonstration, and the notice requirement in the Public Order Act can never morph into an unconstitutional demand for some kind of police permission?

We could ask a dozen questions about the Police Statement, which we find as offensive as we find their unwarranted abuse of power and their impunity in a civilised society governed by respect for human rights, human dignity, the rule of law and justice. And we wonder how Government can bear the news that many of these harmless student protestors reportedly found shelter at a foreign consulate from the atrocities of their country’s own Police Service.

We repeat and remind the Police that the right to demonstrate is an inalienable right that requires absolutely no police approval or censure beyond notification. And no edifice, building or “zone” should exist which, having the benefit of public access roads, public traffic and public thoroughfare in whole or in part, cannot accept the presentation of petitions by unarmed and inoffensive demonstrators. No ground in this country is so sacred that it cannot tolerate the lawful exercise of unarmed students’ rights to demonstrate.

We demand, at the very least an apology from the recently-confirmed Inspector General of Police who bears ultimate responsibility for this egregious display of brutishness. We also demand that all Commanding Officers who directly supervised, sanctioned and called for these barbaric attacks on innocent protestors be punished in accordance with the law.

PROFESSIONAL LEGAL EDUCATION

We must also emphatically state that the time is ripe to address the root cause of this matter: the inability of the state to provide sufficient facilities to enable law students from the various law faculties and law schools gain access to professional legal education. We cannot, as a people, grant accreditation for several law faculties and law schools to be opened and run, and then maintain the current size of the School of Law for the professional law course, a completely unjustified bottleneck and another evidence of our lack of planning.

It is a fact that the introduction of the entrance examinations and the erstwhile interviews remain a formalised knee-jerk reaction to a problem that has an obvious solution that we refuse to provide. Ghana is not an island. Several other countries have resolved this problem in a manner that allows prospective lawyers to be trained and given the opportunity to write the final bar exam, however often they may write it. There is nothing wrong with learning from others and adapting what we learn to suit our purposes.

The Government cannot absolve itself of blame in this regard. It is statute that created the General Legal Council. That statute gives the Council the power to regulate professional legal education, sometimes with the approval of the Attorney-General. We insist that the same legislative process should be used to fix this problem once and for all.

A country of almost 30 million people cannot be proud that its official roll of lawyers has just about 3,000 lawyers. A ratio of one lawyer to 10,000 citizens is highly anaemic, and any existing or new policy that unduly restricts access to any form of education, especially in a developing economy, is not forward-looking and should be jettisoned. The time for action on this matter is now, and this buck stops at the desk of the Government.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, we demand of the Police Service, the General Legal Council and the Government of Ghana to be guided by the principles outlined in the Ghanaian constitution that all power emanates from the people and not the other way round.

Yours in the service of God and Country

OccupyGhana®