Lawyers for #FixTheCountry convener, Oliver Barker-Vormawor, have dragged the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and Attorney-General (A-G) to the Supreme Court to challenge the jurisdiction of a district court to preside over a treason felony case.
The youth activist, who has been in police custody since February 14, is facing a treason felony charge at the Ashaiman District Court.
Since his first appearance on February 14, one pertinent question the legal team, led by Justice Srem Sai, keep asking is whether the district court has original jurisdiction over such a delicate matter.
Prosecution and the court itself insists that it has jurisdiction. But Barker-Vormawor’s team is not convinced, and thus the suit, filed at the apex court.
The team want the court to determine whether the police have discharged their constitutional duty by sending their client to a court with no jurisdiction to consider a bail application.
In the suit, the team also pointed out that the ruling of the High Court ‘B’, Tema, dated February 17, 2022, entails a grave miscarriage of justice.
It will be recalled that the team had filed a habeas corpus application for the release of their client, but the Tema High Court turned down their request on the grounds that the case was already before another court.
A habeas corpus application is used to bring a prisoner or a detainee before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful.
A habeas petition proceeds as a civil action against the state agent who holds the defendant in custody.
It can also be used to examine any extradition processes used, the amount of bail, and the jurisdiction of the court.
The applicants are, by their motion, praying the court to exercise its discretion to grant the following reliefs:
1. Make an order of certiorari to issue to the High Court ‘B’, Tema, to bring up to this honourable court to have quashed its ruling dated February 17, 2022, which was given under the hand of His Lordship, the judge, Justice Daniel Mensah, J., refusing to issue a writ of habeas corpus subjiciendum in respect of the detained directed at the respondents, their agents, assigns and workmen howsoever described or styled.
2. Give a true and proper interpretation of whether by sending a person they have restricted, arrested or detained to a court which has no jurisdiction to consider an application for bail in respect of the person who is restricted, arrested or detained, the police have discharged their duty under Article 14(3) of the 1992 Constitution.
3. Issue a writ of habeas corpus subjiciendum in respect of the detained directed at the respondents, their agents, assigns and workmen howsoever described or styled.
The application before the apex court will be heard on Wednesday, 2 March 2022.
How it all started
The accused was arrested on February 11 by the Tema Regional Police Command following a post he allegedly made on social media to the effect that he would stage a coup himself if the E-Levy Bill was passed by Parliament.
“The post contained a clear statement of intent with a possible will to execute a coup in his declaration of intent to subvert the constitution of the Republic of Ghana,” the police statement dated 12 February 2022, signed by the Director-General of Public Affairs, DCOP Kwesi Ofori said.
After his post, a section of Ghanaians who found his comments distasteful poured out on social media to call the Ghana Police Service to arrest him.
He was arraigned on Monday, 14 February 2022, and has been on remand since his first Ashaiman District court appearance.
Mr Barker-Vormawor has been charged with treason felony, but he pleaded innocence.
#FixTheCountry describes itself as a non-partisan, non-aligned civic movement by Ghanaian youths for Ghana.
#FixTheCountry was birthed in 2021 via online protests after the government announced price hikes in fuel and telecommunication services.
The price increase was happening at a time of frequent power.
Other concerns highlighted by the angry social media users included high taxes, unemployment, dilapidated health system, high accommodation rate, poor road networks, and general hardships.
The group subsequently held a series of demonstrations and continued their online protests against government policies they believed were inimical to ordinary Ghanaians.
Most recently, #FixTheCountry submitted a petition to President Nana Akufo-Addo demanding the head of the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa, over the inability of the Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lolobi and Likpe (SALL) residents to vote for a representative in parliament.
Currently, SALL, which is in the Guan District, has no representation in parliament.
In the petition, Mr Barker-Vormawor had argued that the conduct of the EC officials in the SALL matter “meets the threshold of stated misbehaviour and, or incompetence as required under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution for the removal of these officials”.
#FixTheCountry insisted that the actions and inactions of the EC boss caused the people of SALL to lose their fundamental human rights.
There were 46 signatories to the petition, including residents of SALL.