Pressure group, Occupy Ghana has described as ridiculous the GH¢23, 400 fine imposed on the 13 members of the pro-government vigilante group Delta Forces by a Circuit Court in Kumasi.
“…What has happened with respect to the acts of the so-called Delta Force leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, makes a mockery of our law enforcement institutions and ridicules our judiciary.
“From the botched bail hearing which was disrupted by alleged Delta Force members, through the failure of the police to provide evidence to support a prosecution leading to the filing of a nolle prosequi, and ending with the farcical fines slapped on those who escaped lawful custody and the even more farcical fines imposed for “rioting”, the notion that one can get away with impunity and even criminality if one was an activist of a ruling government has been reinforced and fortified,” Occupy Ghana said in a statement.
On Thursday, October 19 2017, the Asokwa Circuit Court in Kumasi in the Ashanti region imposed a fine of GH¢ 1,800 on each of the accused persons, or in default, serve a 12-month jail term, after they pleaded guilty to a substituted charge of “Conspiracy to Commit a Crime by Rioting”.
The 13 members of the Delta Force were arrested in March this year after they expressed their displeasure with the appointment of the Ashanti Region Security Coordinator, Mr. George Adjei.
They stormed his office and physically assaulted him demanding that one of their members be rather appointed.
Below is the full statement
OCCUPYGHANA® CONDEMNS THE MISHANDLING OF THE DELTA FORCE CASE AND THE FARCICAL SENTENCES IMPOSED.
OccupyGhana ® has noted with grave concern, the ridiculously insignificant fines imposed on the NPP activists who either escaped from lawful custody or engaged in criminal acts under the banner of the Delta Forces.
On March 28th 2017 we issued a press statement condemning the acts of lawlessness, vandalism, violence, thuggery and assault by certain groups said to be associated with the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) since it took over the reins of power on January 7th 2017.We pointed to the Flagstaff House assault on January 9th 2017 by persons alleged to be members of the NPP’s Invincible Forces, forcible takeovers of tollbooths by persons claiming NPP membership, and the March 24 attack in the Ashanti Region by persons alleged to belong to the NPP affiliate, Delta Force.
OccupyGhana® minced no words in expressing our alarm that these unlawful and criminal acts were being brazenly carried out seemingly without condemnation by the government, and in the full glare of and a seeming lack of strong, swift, forceful and decisive intervention by the state security apparatus to stop it. We unreservedly condemned the acts as illegal and unlawful and called on the government, the NPP and the state security apparatus to act to curb them.
We are not aware that anyone was punished for the Flagstaff House attack and tollbooth takeovers. That was bad. But ultimately, what has happened with respect to the acts of the so-called Delta Force leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, makes a mockery of our law enforcement institutions and ridicules our judiciary. From the botched bail hearing which was disrupted by alleged Delta Force members, through the failure of the police to provide evidence to support a prosecution leading to the filing of a nolle prosequi, and ending with the farcical fines slapped on those who escaped lawful custody and the even more farcical fines imposed for “rioting”, the notion that one can get away with impunity and even criminality if one was an activist of a ruling government has been reinforced and fortified.
That is wrong. We are shocked at how these matters have been handled and are even more appalled about the risible fines imposed on the persons found to have engaged in these criminal acts.
One would have thought that all would have learnt lessons from the Montie 3 incidents when it comes to dealing with the court. The physical attack on the circuit court in Kumasi was in our view worse than what the Montie 3 did on radio. One would have expected that the judiciary, like it did with the Montie 3, would send a strong message to all that similar conduct would not be tolerated. Unfortunately the meek fines imposed can at best be described as a stab in the back of the judiciary by the judiciary itself.
It is of little wonder that a self-proclaimed leader of the Delta Force is reported to have stated that they have no regrets for their acts. That is a sad testimony produced by the toxic mix of official complicity and judicial blessings in the imposition of those farcical fines.
It is hardly surprising that on Monday 16th October, in blatant disregard for the rule of law, the Burma Camp Youth Wing, a pro NPP youth group, attacked and chased out the Regional Coordinator & staff of the Ghana School Feeding Programme in Tamale over perceived unfair allocation of schools in the region to caterers. The group’s chairman has since boldly defended their actions which included locking the Regional GSFP offices saying they would do whatever it takes to make the party succeed.
OccupyGhana® registers its absolute disgust at and utter condemnation of these matters. It is not too much to demand from political parties, especially those in power, that they call their supporters and support groups to order and educate them on these matters.
It is not too much for the state security apparatus, especially the Ghana Police Service to thoroughly investigate acts of thuggery (irrespective of who engages in them), and arrest the perpetrators and bring them to book. It is not too much to demand that the state deal with this fast calcifying canker firmly, immediately and decisively without delay, without favour and resist interference from every quarter. It is not too much to ask of the judiciary that as the last bastion of the rule of law and constitutional harmony, it should do more than merely slap persons who engage in such acts on the wrist.