The Greater Accra Police Command has justified the minimum force used to disperse demonstrating prospective law students of the Ghana Law School in Accra on Monday.
In the view of the Deputy Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Greater Accra Police Command, Inspector Kwabena Danso, using water cannons became necessary when the students tried to override the security personnel.
Some applicants, who failed the entrance exam to the Ghana Law School, embarked on a peaceful demonstration to draw attention of the President and Chief Justice to the need to reform legal education.
But, it turned violent when they tried to go to the Jubilee House to present their petition. Angered by the conduct of the police, the students sat in the middle of the road and vowed not to move until they are allowed entry.
The police used hot water to disperse the demonstrators and also arrested 13 of the students. The act by the security has been condemned in no uncertain terms with many demanding unqualified apology.
But, Inspector Danso said they owe no one an apology for executing their lawful duty.
He explained that, they had to use riot control equipment when the law school applicants started pelting the police with stones and other offensive weapons.
“We used riot control equipment like water cannons, batons and shields and rubber bullets so we used what we think was appropriate,” he said on Adom FM’s morning show, Dwaso Nsem, yesterday.
The Greater Accra Police PRO said he expected the law school applicants to have known better and complied with the law.
Inspector Danso, therefore, advised the citizenry that though they have the right to demonstrate, they must do so in accordance with the law.
It appears the police inspector is the lone voice in his justification in this rather shameful act particularly when some well-meaning Ghanaians have condemned the development.
So far, Sylvester Tetteh, Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority (NYA) has condemned the act.
In a statement issued in Accra yesterday, the Authority said it condemns without reservation the brutalities meted out by the police to some law students who were embarking on a peaceful demonstration against the recent mass failure recorded in the entrance exams to the Ghana School of Law and demands for immediate reforms to legal education in the country.
It noted that the NYA as the statutory body charged with the mandate of championing the welfare of the youth of the country, the NYA finds the conduct of the police to these innocent young people who were only engaged in a democratic exercise in pursuit of their educational rights as most unfortunate.
“Democratic policing demands that even if the students had defied the rules of engagement, the police ought to act professionally to bringing them to order rather than resorting to brutal force on unarmed and non-violent protestors.”
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has also called for a probe into the reported use of excessive force by police during the protest by the law students.
Though the police have justified the use of force against the students, the NPP insisted in a statement that such measures were uncalled for.
Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has described the police brutality meted out to members of the Law Students Association as an embarrassing spectacle and unacceptable.