Convener of the FixTheCountryMovement Photo: Edem Robby Abbeyquaye

Social advocacy group, FixTheCountry Movement, has called on the Ghana Police Service to speedily investigate the recent shooting incident at the Islamic Senior High School in Kumasi.

The group also urged the Police Service to end the increasing incidents of violent crowd control.

According to the group, it is worried about the increased number of police-civilian brutalities, especially on various secondary and tertiary campuses across the country.

Dwelling on the recent incident at Abrepo in the Ashanti Region and other campuses, the Movement stressed the need for the Police to employ calmer and friendlier approaches in dealing with the public, especially in instances of rowdy disturbances.

“We note that the incidence of security forces entering second-cycle and tertiary educational institutions with live ammunition and resorting to unjustified use of violence against minors or young adults has now become a routine part of law enforcement culture in this country.

We are disturbed about the extent to which guns and the use of live ammunition have become a normalized part of law enforcement in Ghana. We reiterate our calls for persistent violence and killings of demonstrations to be properly investigated and for the end of this culture of Police brutality”, portions of the statement read.

It continued: “We consider that only consequences for unlawful conduct can incentivize true reform in policing methods in Ghana. To end the culture of brutality and impunity, we must hold persons responsible for these acts of violence accountable”.

Having stated their reservations, the FixTheCountry Movement itemised the following proposals in dealing with the menace:

“a. An independent civilian expert body with prosecutorial powers be established to probe allegations of violence by members of the security agencies

b. An immediate end to the deployment of military personnel in civilian crowd control situations, including a complete ban on the deployment of the Ghana Armed Forces into primary, secondary or tertiary educational establishments in connection with any demonstrations by Students.

c. An immediate end to the use of live ammunition in protest by unarmed civilians, and in crowd control situations; and in particular there should be a complete ban on the use of guns or live ammunition in student crowd control activities in any primary, secondary or tertiary educational establishment.

d. An immediate putting in place of operating procedures on public order policing, which are consistent with human rights and the respect for human dignity”.

Background

Over 20 students of Islamic Senior High School in Kumasi were rushed to the hospital, following an alleged clash with the Police.

Sources say the personnel were deployed to the School to maintain law and order.

The victims were said to be part of a group of students who blocked the Abrepo Junction-Barekese road to protest pedestrian knockdowns involving students and teachers of the school.

FixTheCountry urges Police to stop violent crowd control
Some of the students were reported to have gone unconscious

The angry students massed up on the road in protest, as they called for construction of speed ramps on that section of the road.

Reports indicated that there was vehicular and human traffic on that stretch for more than an hour before the Police were called in to clear the road.

FixTheCountry urges Police to stop violent crowd control
Other student were left with severe pain

Academic work was subsequently grounded as parents frequented the school to check on their wards, amid heavy security.

FixTheCountry urges Police to stop violent crowd control
There were ambulances on the school to transport students to nearby hospitals

In an interview with JoyNews few minutes after the incident, a Spokesperson of the Education Ministry, Eric Opoku Mensah, said efforts are underway to bring the situation under control.

He added that the Regional Director of Education was following up with the matter to ensure all students admitted at the hospital are well catered for and safe.

“We’ve spoken to parents to remain calm; we have given them the assurance that any student found in this School is well. We are protecting them; we are ensuring that those that were taken to the hospital are safe – some have been brought back.

FixTheCountry urges Police to stop violent crowd control
Eric Opoku Mensah speaks for the Education Ministry

We will engage the Urban Roads Directorate to ensure that some markings would be done on the road immediately. Even if that is done, that wouldn’t be an antidote to an accident occurring but again, we need to educate and advise our drivers who ply this road to be cautious when getting to a school junction”, he said.

Meanwhile, the National Ambulance Service has pegged the number of victims admitted to hospital, at 25. Regional Director of the Service, Sommit Duut, says all the victims are responding to treatment. He, however, stressed that they have not treated any traumatic injury like that of gunshot wounds.

According to him, the students rather suffered respiratory distress.

“All that we treated were just difficulty in breathing and people who were exhausted – we didn’t have any bloody situation. They [victims] are doing very well, they are responding to treatment; all of them are fine. As of now, we’ve not had any negative feedback from the hospital”, he disclosed.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akuffo Dampare, has paid a visit to the school in Kumasi to get first-hand details of the incident.

This is part of investigations being conducted into the incident by the Police administration.

The FixTheCountry Movement want the said investigations to be thorough, bringing offenders to book.

“We reiterate our calls for the Ghana Police Service to perform their duty to protect demonstrators rather than resorting to turning their guns on them. We ask that Ghanaians, both home and abroad support #FixTheCountry in its advocacy, to ensure that Ghanaian lives and the dignity of our fellow citizens are protected and valued in all law enforcement interactions, in line with the standards in all truly functioning democracies”, their statement concluded.