Ghana Protests: A Cry Against Economic Woes and Corruption

Introduction

On September 21, 2023, Ghana witnessed a significant demonstration that shook the nation’s political landscape. Some Ghanaians intended to march to the Jubilee House, the seat of government, to protest against the government’s handling of the ongoing economic crisis and widespread corruption in the country. Organized by Democracy Hub, a group of passionate young activists, the demonstration, known as #OccupyJulorbiHouse, aimed to draw attention to pressing issues facing the nation. However, what started as a peaceful expression of dissent soon escalated into a contentious clash between peaceful protesters and officers of the Ghana Police Service, raising concerns about the state of democracy in Ghana.

The Unlawful Arrests and Police Response

As the protesters marched toward the Jubilee House, the police intervened and arrested 49 of them, sparking outrage and condemnation. These arrests were deemed illegal by many observers, who saw them as a blatant infringement on the constitutional right to protest. Notably, the arrested individuals were released on bail later that day.

Randy Abbey, the host of the “Good Morning Ghana” program on Metro TV, criticized the police’s actions, calling the arrests dramatic and questioning their decision to enforce an injunction that had supposedly been served on Democracy Hub. Abbey highlighted that protests in front of government buildings are a common occurrence worldwide, citing a recent case where Ghanaians protested against President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

Voices of Dissent

Oliver Barker-Vormawor, the convener of the #FixTheCountry Movement, found himself arrested for his participation in the #OccupyJulorbi demonstration. In a video shared on Facebook, he expressed his disappointment in the police for obstructing their right to protest and questioned the essence of democracy.

Social media played a pivotal role in disseminating information about the protests. Various tweets and posts emerged, reflecting public sentiment.

Journalist Helen Appiah-Ampofo shared a video of Bernard Mornah speaking to the press at the Accra Regional Police command. Another Twitter user, Ölele, shared a tweet from a journalist who had faced police action during the demonstration.

Sean, yet another Twitter user, alleged that an officer admitted off the record that they had not filed the injunction themselves but were acting on orders from above. [See more on X]

Heavy Security Presence

Following the arrests and the protests, the police took further precautions by deploying personnel to the Jubilee House to prevent additional demonstrations. These officers, numbering over 400, were equipped with crowd control vehicles, riot gear, and some even rode on horses. 

Economic Challenges in Ghana

To understand the context of these protests, it is crucial to examine Ghana’s current economic situation. According to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, and Bank of Ghana:

Corruption Index

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranked Ghana 72nd out of 180 countries in terms of corruption, with a score of 43 out of 100 in 2022. The CPI serves as a global indicator of public sector corruption, providing an annual snapshot of corruption levels in different countries.

Conclusion

The #OccupyJulorbiHouse demonstration in Ghana on September 21, 2023, reflects the growing frustrations of Ghanaians with the country’s economic challenges and corruption issues. The arrests of protesters and the subsequent police response have sparked debates about the state of democracy and freedom of expression in the nation. As Ghana grapples with these issues, it remains to be seen how the government and civil society will address the concerns raised during this significant protest.

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