Has President Akufo-Addo sanctioned the abuse of citizens by uniformed officers under the lockdown?

President Akufo-Addo announced a partial lockdown effective 30th March 2020. Just as in many countries around the world, citizens are permitted to go out if the purpose for going out fell within what is allowed under the restrictions.

Since then, citizens have been subjected to violent abuses similar to those only witnessed under dictatorial military regimes since the partial lockdown became operational in Ghana. Very disturbing videos and photos of such violent physical abuse of citizens has inundated the social media space. Ghana is not under military rule and the constitution has not been suspended.

The reason for the lockdown is to reduce human contact and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It is therefore surprising how uniformed officers who are supposed to help implement the restrictions and support citizens who need help at this difficult period have rather chosen to molest and subject their fellow countrymen and women to unacceptable treatment.

In one of the videos, a uniformed officer is heard telling a group of people in a queue waiting to top up their prepaid electricity cards that “if I beat you, it will be free” meaning he will beat them and have no questions to answer.

This raises questions about the professionalism of personnel deployed to enforce the lockdown. Such conduct confirms the genuine fears expressed by Ghanaians about the packing of our security services with party vigilantes who are either not qualified or did not meet the required professional training.

I call on President Akufo-Addo, Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and who has all our state security apparatus under his control to call the officers who are committing these atrocities to order and save Ghanaians from the needless, uncivilised and crude behaviour as it has the potential of creating a conflict between officers and the civilian population with the danger of threatening the peace of our country.

Citizens still have rights under our democracy in a lockdown and our constitution is still a valid living document.

I write as a citizen not a spectator .

By Simon Aworigo

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