The military “invasion” of parliament unwarranted

Call that an “attempted coup d’état” and you might not be too far from right. That was because at the time of the “invasion” of the chamber of Parliament by armed military and police personnel at dawn on January 7, 2021, there was no government in place. God forbid! that would have been a serious constitutional crisis for our dear nation.

          The “invasion” of Parliament by armed military and police personnel prior to the election of a new Speaker is a matter which needs serious interrogation and must not be allowed to die prematurely.

          Even though there was an intense commotion on the floor of Parliament by the two major political parties, (the NPP and the NDC Parliamentary Members-Elect), the “invasion” by the military and police personnel in the Chamber worsened matters and created a lot of confusion in the House.

          We are told that the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anim-Yeboah, who was expected to fill the vacuum created as a result of the dissolution of Parliament and government, as the constitution demands and the Clerk of Parliament were escorted out of the Chamber for fear of their dear lives.

          Whoever instructed or directed the military to “invade” the Chamber, is yet to be known by the public, but that is of essence to the majority of the people who gave their mandates to the elected members of Parliament to represent them in the House.

          The shameful event that unfolded prior to the election of the Honourable Speaker was despicable, outrageous, criminal and must be condemned outright. It, indeed, put a dent on Ghana’s democratic credentials which are acclaimed worldwide. That nasty incident tended to soil our name as one of the most peaceful countries in the sub-region if not the whole of the African continent.

          This article will not be complete if it does not spell out the roles and functions of our military vis-à-vis the Ghana Police Service as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

          Article 210 of the 1992 Constitution clearly states that “there shall be the armed forces of Ghana which shall consist of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and such otherwise services for which provision is made by Parliament.”

          It further states that “no person shall raise an armed force except by or under the authority of an act of Parliament.

          Furthermore, the armed forces shall be equipped and maintained to perform the role of defence of Ghana as well as such other function for the development of Ghana as the President may determine.

          Therefore, the primary function of the military is to protect and defend the country and its interest with ground troops, armour, artillery, helicopters, tactical nuclear and other weapons.

          Since independence, the armed forces’ mission has been to protect the country’s territorial integrity from foreign aggression and to maintain internal security.

          In the case of Ghana Police Service, its function is to uphold and enforce the law impartially and to protect life, property, liberty, human rights and dignity of the members of the public.

          It is an administrative machinery of government which is charged with the preservation of the public order and tranquility, the promotion of the public health, safety, morals, the prevention, detection and punishment of crimes in the country.

          Indeed, if we are to follow the functions of these two basic administrative institutions to the letter, it appears that the military has a distinct function of protecting our territorial integrity unless the government and for that matter the President directs otherwise in case of emergency situations.

          The police on the other hand has the power to maintain law and order as well as ensuring absolute discipline among the citizenry. I.e internal security.                                                           

For the past few years, the nation has witnessed few instances in which the military, fully armed, had been used by government to usurp the powers of the police in the enforcement of law and order. We have also witnessed few clashes between military and police personnel in situations that could be described as a show of power. This does not auger well for our fledgling democracy.

          It is a fact that we are allowing politics to erode the gains the country had chalked so far by creating unnecessary chaos and tension in our dear nation through the use of brute force by our security agencies.

          A case in point was the recent elections in the country which recorded cases of armed security personnel allegedly shooting and killing innocent civilians and maiming others for no apparent reasons. May the souls of these departed ones rest in perfect peace.

          Another contributing factor is the vigilantism by the two major political parties, NPP and NDC, using their members to attack each other thereby raising tension in the country. These are matters that were regrettable and must be avoided in the future.

          We have chosen the path of democracy which entails a lot; we are governed by constitution with stipulated profound articles which must be followed rigidly if we are to ensure smooth administrative processes of our dear nation, Ghana. Flouting our constitution by doing otherwise will not help the course of our democracy which we cherished so much. Let us guard and uphold the tenets of our democracy which has been the envy of other nations.

          The new Parliament headed by the new Honourable Speaker, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin and his able lieutenants and other leaders must gird their loins and investigate the circumstances surrounding the recent disturbances in the Chamber of the House, sanction wherever necessary so that we can avoid that negative and nasty incidents that transpired to enable the country to move forward.   

By Charles Neequaye

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