The state's law-enforcement agency filed a High Court application and, according to its statement on Wednesday, September 20, served the lawyers of the organisers, Atuguba & Associates two days before the day of demonstration.
Denying knowledge of the said application, which they further described as ineffective because it has not been moved in court, the protesters called the bluff of the police to gather on Thursday morning to begin a march to the Jubilee House.
But all those who showed up for the demonstration were picked up into a waiting bus to the Accra Regional headquarters of the Ghana Police Service, initially.
Explaining the turn of events in juxtaposition to the Public Order Act, private legal practitioner Bobby Banson said the protesters could have offended the law given the facts he has.
He detailed on The Keypoints on TV3/3FM on Saturday, September 23 that after the Act was amended to suit its proper interpretation within the 1992 Constitution, “prospective protesters” and the police have a duty to reach a compromise before any civic action.
“This Public Order Act as we have it does not require permission of the police,” he stressed.
“It only states that you notify the police with certain information – the day, the route and whatever – and the Act says that the police has the responsibility when they are notified and the demonstrators also have a responsibility once there is an agreement.
“So, if you read this new Act, it gives the impression that there is supposed to be cooperation or a collaboration between the police and prospective protesters.”
Lawyer Banson said the new law has stopped the police from securing ex parte injunctions and rather resort to applications in situations where they do not reach a consensus with the prospective protesters.
He further explained that after the application is filed, it has to be served the organisers, who in turn have to respond within 48 hours if they disagree with the police's move.
The law lecturer insists that the Act ensures that there is a compromise before any protest occurs.
“If indeed there was communication from the police to the protesters at the meeting on the 18th of September, saying that we do not agree with the route or we think that the protest should be modified, then the protesters have a period of 48 hours from that date on the 18th to communicate their disagreement with the proposals or as it were by the Ghana Police.
“If the protesters did not do that or do not do that and they proceed to go ahead with the protest in accordance with the original plan, then there may have been an offence under Section 9.”
But a lawyer to the protesters, Martin Kpebu, disagreed with his colleague lawyer, stressing the right to demonstrate does not emanate from the constitution.
He said no law stops anybody from demonstrating.
The first day of their three-day protest was relatively chaotic as all of them were picked up.