The Inspector General of Police, Landing Kinteh got it all wrong, so does anyone, who wants to argue that the #OccupyWestfield protest could not be issued a permit because police did not have the ability to provide security.
The police were unable to provide protesters with security and maintain law and order but were able to deploy squads in strategic locations, including the protest ground in what is reasonable enough to consider an act of intimidation.
Personally, I often find myself at odds with the opinions of the protest leader, Alieu Bah and I believe, he should have the courage to step aside after venting out frustration calling on people to riot.
Although he has said that was unintentional, it is grounds for the police to deny them a permit unless Bah resigns from his leadership role because of his impulsive reaction.
But this is not the reason cited by the police. However, it is clear that the police regard those behind the protest as a dangerous bunch of misguided youths that could get out hands, not because Westfield was a busy part of town or because there was no manpower to provide security.
The police said they have got intelligence that there was going to be a counter protest by supporters of the government. Everyone has the right to protest and those planning on having a counter protest should apply for a permit and the police can advise them to hold their rally in a show of support on a different day.
“There are strong reasons that there is likely going to be a counter-demonstration by people who feel that these people are not been reasonable – that the government should have more time to work on some of the issues that they have inherited and which are not created by the current government,” the IGP told Standard Newspaper’s, Omar Wally.
If the so-called counter protesters do not abide by this and decide to hold their protest, they should be the ones to be arrested for unlawful assembly. The so-called counter protest claim, therefore, is not grounds for denying the #OccupyWestfield protesters a permit.
Is it that the police do not want to arrest government supporters or are really unable to handle a situation like that when it arises?
It is ironical that the police are unable to provide security on the protest day but have the ability to deploy squads to make sure that no protest happens whether by counter-protesters or the occupiers.
The fact the IGP feels that the rights of the #OccupyWestfield protesters “stop where that of others begins” shows how authorities are stifling dissent and increasingly feeling that to an extent, the newfound democracy is being abused.