An Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Ruby Aryeetey, says the #FixTheCountry campaigners can use the procedures prescribed by law to organise a demonstration if they intend to do so.
The court gave this directive on Friday, June 25, 2021, following an earlier application brought before it by the police injuncting a demonstration the #FixTheCountry campaigners had wanted to organise on May 9.
In its ruling, the court described the police injunction application as moot.
Tired of the hardship in the country, conveners of the protest in May 2021 wrote to notify the Ghana Police Service, in tandem with the Public Order Act, of a demonstration they had scheduled for Sunday, 9th May 2021 at the Black Star Square in Accra.
The police, however, obtained an ex parte injunction, immediately followed with the injunction application on the 12th of May 2021, to stop the campaigners from protesting.
The injunction application sought “an order directed at the organisers and conveners of an intended demonstration dubbed #fixthecountry protest march, their associates, agents, assigns and workmen, prohibiting the conduct of the said demonstration on grounds of public safety, public security, and public health, till the restrictions imposed on large public gatherings are lifted by law or In accordance with the law.”
Arguing the police’s case in court on Friday, Attorney-General, Godfred Dame submitted that the E.I. 37 (impositions of COVID-19 restrictions) restricts large political gatherings and that the demonstration as intended by the organisers was to be a political gathering.
A lawyer for the conveners, Tata Kosi Foliba, however, argued that the application was moot and in another vain, premature and without merit.
He also contended that there could be no larger political gathering than rallies, which government officials had discounted in earlier communications as a contributory factor to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.
Another lawyer for the conveners, Francis Ontoyin, also cited the recent funeral of the late Forestry Commission CEO, Sir John, to argue that the right to assembly is so fundamental that E.I. 37 should not be interpreted to deny citizens that right.
Justice Ruby Aryeetey, consequently, ruled that the said application, intended to prohibit, had long elapsed and could therefore not be injuncted.
She subsequently ruled that the #FixTheCountry campaigners would have to go through the necessary processes if they intended to organise another demonstration.
Efia Odo, other conveners of the #FixTheCountry movement arrested in court
In court on Friday, about 15 members of the #TheFixCountry movement who massed up at the entrance of the High Court, before the ruling, were arrested, including actress, Efia Odo.
The reason for the arrest is unknown, except that they were at the High Court to support lawyers of the group.
Moments before the arrest, the protestors were seen entering the court premises and taking pictures with Efia Odo, one of the conveners who had stepped out of the court premises ahead of the delivery of the ruling.
According to some conveners, a police officer on duty at the court instructed them to leave the premises and later called for backup.
The Director of Operations at the Accra Regional Police Command led the team to initiate the arrest.
This arrest was on the back of the High Court’s dismissal of a preliminary objection that sought to prevent the Attorney General from representing the Police Service in the case.