Ghana: Police, Law Students Clash... 2 Injured, 13 Arrested

PERSONNEL of the Ghana Police Service yesterday fired rubber bullets and dispensed water cannons to scatter prospective professional law students who had staged a protest march against what they say is the restricted legal education regime in the country.

The march which started from the Makola campus of the Ghana School of Law (GSL) in Accra was orderly and peaceful until the police attempted to prevent the demonstrators at the Ako Adjei interchange from going to the Jubilee House to present a petition to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

As a result of the commotion, two persons - a demonstrator and a journalist with online portal, - were injured. They were with the Police receiving treatment at the time of filing this report.

One of the leaders of the protest and president of the Students Representative Council of the GSL, Jonathan Alua and 12 others have been arrested.

The rest of the protestors had to seek refuge 10 meters within the precincts of the Canadian High Commission where, by diplomatic arrangements, the government of Ghana has no jurisdiction.

Mrs Heather Cameron, the Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, had to step in by taking the petition with a promise to present to the President on behalf of the protestors.

The demonstrators, largely LLB holders drawn from the 14 law faculties seeking to enrol at the GSL, had poured on the street to vent their frustration at the admission system into the GSL.

Clad in red and displaying placards with inscriptions, 'I did not fail that exam', 'Open up legal education', and 'Law education must not be preserved for the few', among others, the protestors had brief stops at the new Court Complex, the Ministry of Justice, and the secretariat of the Ghana Bar Association where they presented the hierarchy of the association a copy of their petition.

With the Jubilee House scheduled to be their last stop, the protestors were met at the Afrikiko traffic intersection where the police had mounted a barrier with two armoured vehicles and two water cannons to ward off the 'red eyed' protestors.

Told that they would not be able to have access to the seat of government, the protestors demanded that someone from the Jubilee House came to receive their petition but to no avail.

Determined to have their petition received by the Jubilee House, the protestors, in defiance to the police directive for them to disperse, sat on the road as their leaders negotiated with the police for amicable solution.

After about 30 minutes deadlock, the police had to bulldoze their way through by dispensing the water cannon as the unarmed protestors 'ran for their lives'.

Despite the protestors visibly running away from 'danger', the police water cannon 'chased' them until they took cover at the frontage of the Canadian High Commission.

Addressing the protestors, Philemon Laar, one of the leaders of the protest described the action of the police as an attack on their right to express their grievances.

He said, "We had to run away not because we are afraid but because we believe in dialogue. We will use all available accepted channels to have our concerns addressed."

"This is not the democracy our forebears fought for. This is tyranny," he said and reiterated that the protestors would not be cowed into submission.

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