Chief Policy Analyst at the GIPO, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, has condemned how the Police in the past few weeks has applied certain laws, particularly Sections 207 and 208 of the Criminal Offences Act.
His concern is in reaction to the arrests of some journalists and social/political activists who were arrested and charged with offensive conduct conducive to breaches of peace and publication of false news after making some claims.
Accra FM presenter, Kwabena Bobie Ansah, was picked up by the Police after his evening programme on February 10, 2022.
The Police initially did not disclose the reason for this, but he was later charged with the publication of false news and offensive conduct and subsequently granted a GH¢50,000 bail by the Kaneshie District Court.
According to the Police, Kwabena Bobie Ansah’s arrest “became necessary after he turned down several invitations from the Police to him and others involved in the case to assist with investigations.”
The Bono Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Kwame Baffoe, was arrested and charged for publication of false news and offensive conduct over claims that former President John Mahama is plotting a coup, which eventually turned out to be false.
The Police in a statement revealed that the NPP Regional Chairman failed to substantiate his claims, but he was later granted bail of GH¢100k.
Dr Wereko-Brobby stated that this style of arrest is disturbing, especially under the regime of a man who once promised that “there will be no midnight knocks on the door” under his regime.
“There are very clear rules under the Constitution on how arrests should be carried out.
“The problem that I have [with Sections 207 and 208 of the Criminal Offences Act] is not so much the law, as the way which those who are supposed to apply the law behave. It’s the way which sometimes the Police try to do what I call ‘I’ll show you where the power lies punishment’ even before culpability has been established.
Citing the instances of arrests of the Bono Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Kwame Baffoe, also known as Abronye DC, and the Accra FM presenter, Kwabena Bobie Ansah who was arrested after his programme in the evening, he said these style of arrests is problematic and ought to be checked.
Commenting on the arrests, Dr Wereko-Brobby found Mr Abronye’s detention by the Police problematic, since he willingly turned himself to the Police when he was invited.
“Mr Abronye was asked to come at a certain time. He showed up way, ahead of time, he gave a statement and then inexplicably he was held overnight.
“That I thought is an abuse of the process because he honoured the invitation, he gave a statement, but according to him on somebody’s instructions, he was held overnight.
“That I think is the kind of behaviour, that I think should not be tolerated and wherever we find this. I’ll be more interested in making sure that the requirement of Article 298, put down how discretionary powers should be exercised, should be adhered to so that how Police invite people to interrogate them, the powers to detain them, etc.
“It’s the abuse of process that I’m more worried about because what this will actually do is to create an environment in which people are scared to do honest investigations or hold power to account because they feel the minute they err, there are going to be treated like criminals,” he added.
“Should be very well spelt out so that we don’t have kind of ‘Hitlerised’ behaviour by certain people who think they are the law,” he said.