MP for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu

Lawyer for Ernesto Yeboah, Francis Sosu has said the Black Lives Matter vigil organised by the Economic Fighters League (EFL) to pay tribute to George Floyd did not break the Public Order Act 1994 (491).

The vigil which was held at Black Star Square on Saturday was disrupted by the police who arrested Ernesto Yeboah, leader of the EFL.

The Ghana Police Service has given various conflicting reasons why they made the arrest and disorganised the vigil gathering.

But speaking on the Super Morning Show on Monday, Francis Sosu said the police, however, have “no business” doing so as they followed what is expected of them according to the Public Order Act 1994 (491).

He explained that even though the gathering may have breached some other law, perhaps relating to Covid-19 regulations, they have not breached the Public Order Act 1994 (491).

The Public Order Act requirement is to notice police not less than five days before the event is proposed to take place.

“You don’t need acknowledgement of the notice. In that case, the law would have been defeated. Once you notify them and they don’t acknowledge receipt then it means that they have taken a decision to stop you from going ahead. 

“But the law doesn’t say so. So you give the notification and they are supposed to get in touch with you, the organisers and you sit down and agree on the route that you intend to take. In fact, you’re supposed to indicate that in the notice. They should then get back to you if they want to amend it. 

“If they have any issue they are supposed to get back to negotiate. If you cannot agree on a date, time, route, the law says they should go to court to stop you from moving ahead with it.”

He stressed that if the police have an issue with a group’s arrangement then they must get back to organisers to negotiate and make amendments.

On his part, private legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini said should there still be a disagreement between the two parties, according to Mr Lardy, the law allows the police to go to court. 

“Some ignorant police officers in some places issue a reply to the notice to say that ‘we are not granting it’. They don’t have that power. They are supposed to go to court.”

“If they told them that by going on we will be breaching the Covid-19 protocols it was only right for the police to make contact with them and say because of the Covid-19 calls these are the present rules about social gathering.

Should the police base their reason for disruption and arrest on Covid-19 protocols? Mr Lardy Anyenini said that this reason may not stand in court because the Executive Instrument which includes rules and protocols for Covid-19 and public health, has expired and the new one has not yet come out.