Demo Victim Goes Blind

Adzakumah
President John Dramani Mahama has described as regrettable and unfortunate the rough treatment suffered by some people who took part in last Wednesday’s demonstration organised by the Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) and its allied pressure groups in Accra.

The protest, which was aimed at putting pressure on the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voter register for the 2016 elections, turned bloody after police fired rubber bullets, sprayed tear gas and water cannons to scatter the crowd, leading to one of the demonstrators losing one eye.

The 37 Military Hospital carried out a successful surgery on the left eye of Justice Adzakumah, the young man who suffered the police brutality the most.

Officials at the facility say his damaged eyeball was taken out with less trouble, and that he’s responding to treatment. However, the said eye cannot see again, according to hospital sources.

However, Adzakumah has stressed that he does not regret taking part in the mass protest.

National Democratic Congress (NDC) activists are mockingly saying that it was tomato paste that was used by the victim and that had led to shortage of the commodity in the market.

The group’s protest followed the New Patriotic Party’s claim that it had uncovered over 76,000 foreign names on Ghana’s voter register.

However, reports from various quarters indicated that several of the protestors were beaten with horse whips, clubs and other weapons, thereby leading to most of them sustaining various degrees of injury.

Despite several complaints and condemnations by the public, the police administration has justified the action of the officers.

In a statement signed by the Public Affairs Director, DCOP Rev David Nenyi Ampah Bennin, the police said the protestors violated the Public Order Act; hence, the use of ‘minimum force’ to maintain law and order.

Mahama Calls For Investigation
But speaking at a grand durbar of the Asogli Yam Festival in Ho, the Volta Regional capital, the president said the brutality was a disgrace to the democratic credentials of the country and asked the police to investigate the matter.

‘…I learnt that a few of the demonstrators were beaten or hurt in the ensuing stampede that occurred. This is a terrible situation and one that should absolutely not have happened. Ghana is a nation of laws and a nation that respects the rule of law.

‘I’ve held discussions with the police authority and urged the command to review the unfortunate events of last Wednesday in line with policies and procedures that officers are expected to follow in response to incidents of this sort. The basic rights of all citizens must be recognised and respected at all times,’ he stressed.

Civil Society, Public Back Call
The directive by the president seems to have gone down well with many Ghanaians, particularly civil society groups and other human rights organisations in the country. Their hope is that there will be strict determination of what ‘minimum force’ is and punish the officers found culpable in abusing the rights of the protestors.

Meanwhile, the LMVCA and the other groups have served notice that they will return to the street next Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, to finish what they started last week to press home the need for a new electoral roll.

They have also indicated their intention to drag the police to court over the brutality and the various human rights abuses.

From Fred Duodu, Ho ([email protected])


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