FixTheCountry Convener denied access to lawyer 24-hours after arrest
African Editors’ sources have confirmed that the #FixTheCountry Convenor Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor has been denied access to his lawyer, family and members of the movement 24-hours after he was arrested by the police at Kotoka International Airport.
The Cambridge University Researcher Barker-Vormawor was rounded up by the Tema Police Command in Ghana upon arrival from UK at the Kotoka International Airport over alleged coup comment he made on social media.
He becomes the fifth to have been given similar treatment apart from Mensah Thompson of ASEPA, Captain Smart of TV3, Kwabena Bobie Ansah of Accra FM, a subsidiary of Class Media Group and Nana . G of Connect FM/TV3, a subsidiary of Media General all in February 2022.
The development has since received a backlash from Civil Society Organisations including CDD-Ghana, Imani Africa and African Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) which accused government of deliberate attempt to re-introduce the country to criminal libel regime.
Apart from that, Private Legal Practitioner Kofi Bentil has argued that the state is overreacting to a simple matter that will get nowhere. According to him, there was no much gainful sense in wasting state resources on a single individual who has no capacity to stage a coup after he has explained what he meant in a social media post.
But, Director of Police Public Affairs DCOP Kwasi Ofori said the police will put Barker-Vormawor before court by Monday because he made a comment that has the tendency of overthrowing a constitutional order.
In a sharp rebuttal, Human Rights Lawyer Martin Luther Kpebu said “The police has no right to keep Barker-Vormawor in custody without bail beyond 48-hour deadline imposed on them by the law and judicial precedent/decision delivered by Chief Justice Sophia Akufo on 48-hour threshold”. According to him, the police are breaching the law if they are denying the suspect access to lawyer and called on IGP Dampare to train his men on the Supreme Court verdict on the availability of proceedings and processes on holidays unlike the past”.
“Mr. IGP, it is unlawful for the police to deny and keep Barker-Vomawor in custody until Monday. Please, he is not running away because he has made a statement at UK and returned to Ghana. He leads a well-recognised movement…. so why will you keep him in this manner”.