Monday, October 7, Accra witnessed the first-of-its-kind massive demonstration by law students and other concerned Ghanaians. Nsempii News applauds the students for their exemplary courage. It made news both locally and internationally especially as it ended with a violent confrontation by the police.
The over 500 protesters marched peacefully through the principal streets of Accra, starting from the Ghana School of Law at Makola. They made a brief stop at the High Court Complex where they staged a sit-down protest before moving in their numbers to the Ministries to present a petition to the Attorney General. She was not in office. On their way out of the ministries, they came upon the Deputy Attorney-General who was forced to address them from his car. From there, they marched to the Ghana Bar Association secretariat where a meeting of the Bar leadership was ongoing. Again, by the sheer force of their numbers and courage, the President of the GBA had to put his meeting on hold and address the crowd. The last lap of the protest was the march to the Jubilee House to present a petition to the President of the Republic demanding legal reforms. But before they could reach the seat of the presidency, they were stopped by violent policemen and women who sprayed them with hot water, and shot them with rubber bullets and tear gas. They arrested thirteen of them including some leaders of the National Association of the Law Students and the Fighter-General of the Economic Fighters League.
One of the protesters showing his injuries Source: Facebook Page of NALS
Nsempii News has observed a growing youth resurgence in the country. In this editorial, we tell you why the two protagonist groups in last Monday’s protest represent a glimmer of hope for change in Ghana.
The protest was organised by the National Association of Law Students which mobilized law students from eleven (11) law faculties including those who passed the entrance exam as well as current students of the Ghana School of Law to the streets. The protest was to demand reforms to legal education in Ghana on the back of this year’s 93% failure rate – only 128 out of 1820 candidates passed the entrance exam to the Ghana School of Law. Many well-meaning Ghanaians had been railing against the legal education system in Ghana. Foremost among these is the US-based Ghanaian professor Kweku Asare. In 2015, Asare sued the General Legal Council, the body mandated by law to regulate legal education. After a long delay, the court finally ruled in his favour, declaring the admission process announced by the GLC unconsitutional. A number of other people have also sent proposals and petitions all to no avail. The unholy restrictions to the entry to the professional law education remain intact are ever tight. Meanwhile 1000s of LLB holders stream out of the eleven faculties in the Universities. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was this year’s 93% failure rate. The students could not take it anymore, especially as the Chief Justice, who is the Chairperson of the General Legal Council boldly declared that as long as she had anything to do with legal education, only a few will have access. They announced a protest.
Fighters support for students
The Economic Fighters League quickly issued a news release in support of the protest. In that release, they described the GLC as a tyrannical body curtailing the access to legal training for young people. They called for all to join the protest on 7th October. This was not the first time they publicly supported a student cause. In October last year, when KNUST students went on rampage to resist oppression on their campus, the leader of the League, Ernesto Yeboah released a video in which he commended the action of the students and decried what he termed “anti-youth system”
Again, when unemployed nurses and midwives picketed at the Ministry of Health last year, they got solidarity from the Fighters. Speaking to the nurses at the premises of the ministry, Ernesto Yeboah reminded them of the fact that the youth of Ghana were the most cheated and betrayed.
In the case of the law students protest, they actively participated both in the publicity and the protest itself. The second highest ranking official, Fighter-General Hardi Yakubu, led the Fighters to the protest and was also violently arrested in the process.
Hardi Yakubu being dragged by two policemen during the protest Source: citinewsroom
In his solidarity statement before the march, he referred to a general system of oppression of students at all levels and the need for that system to be “crushed”. Indeed, the nature of the Ghana’s educational system suppresses the voices of students, they are not even allowed to question their teachers or lecturers, thereby creating a pool of largely timid souls incapable of challenging the status quo. But last Monday’s mass action represents a watershed moment; students in the most conservative and elitist profession took to the streets and stood their grounds against violent confrontation by police. In time past, student movements have played a critical role in shaping political and social events in Ghana. An example was in 1978 when they vehemently opposed Acheampong’s UniGov proposal and actively mobilized against it. The active resistance of the student movement against corruption and human rights abuses under the long years of Jerry John Rawlings are well documented.
On the larger youth front, the Economic Fighters League is leading a reawakening of the minds of the youth to take their destinies and that of their country into their own hands. The Fighters’ constant reference to an oppressive system reflects a recognition something to be done beyond just protests – a systematic resistance that will not only crush the system but ensure that the new one that will replace the old will make true freedom and prosperity a permanent reality.
And this is where an alliance between the two blocs becomes necessary. When you look at it, they are actually one. The leader of the National Association of Law Students, Regina Amegah is herself a member of the Fighters, the Head of their Projects and Programs Command. Their 4th October Facebook post makes this clear.
Revolutionary congratulations to Commander Regina Amegah, Head of Projects and Programmes Command of Fighters, on making it successfully to the Ghana School of Law, being part of 128 out of 1820 who passed the entrance exams.
Despite the fact that she passed the exams, she is part of those leading the charge against the tyranny of the General Legal Council. That is the selflessness of a true Fighter.
But the Fighters has a students command that has yet to pick up. What is needed is active engagement on the critical matters confronting students and the youth. This engagement, which must represent a merger of the interests of all young people, must lead to mobilization across all campuses and the country to free the oppressed masses.
If this is done properly through political education to raise class consciousness, the future of Ghana will be remarkably different from what we can predict now. Real change will indeed be within reach.