Ghana’s Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akuffo Dampare, has accused the British High Commissioner to Ghana of interfering in the country’s security matters.
It follows the High Commissioner’s tweet over the arrest of a social activist and one of the conveners of the #FixTheCountry movement, Oliver Barker-Vormawor, over a motor offence.
In a four-page letter addressed to the British High Commissioner, Harriet Thompson, the IGP questioned her interest in the arrest of Mr Barker-Vormawor considering the fact that he was among other drivers who were arrested separately for road traffic offences on Tuesday, May 17.
The IGP said the envoy’s tweet was not only “biased” and “uninformed”, but also contravened the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 which enjoins diplomatic missions not to interfere in the internal affairs of their host country.
Following the arrest of Mr Barker-Vormawor on May 17 for a traffic offence, the British High Commissioner tweeted, “Oliver Barker Vormawor, convener of #FixTheCountry movement, arrested again, I understand for a motoring offence on his way to court. I’ll be interested to see where this goes”.
Oliver Barker Vormawor, convener of #FixTheCountry movement, arrested again, I understand for a motoring offence on his way to court. I’ll be interested to see where this goes… https://t.co/iK5hZDZUln
— Harriet Thompson (@HCThompson001) May 17, 2022
According to the police chief, “Ordinarily, the Ghana Police Service would not have responded to comments such as yours, obviously made from either a biased or uninformed position.
“However, we have learnt from previous, painful experience that it has not been helpful to ignore such misguided, unwarranted, and biased comments intended to tarnish the reputation of the Ghana Police Service and that of our Country.”
Chronicling the events that led to Mr Barker-Vormawor’s first and second arrests, the Dr Dampare asked, “Against this backdrop and in view of the fact that he is not the only person who is being taken through due process for committing an offence in this country, it is difficult to understand why he is your only focus. Are we to understand that you are concerned about the law enforcement process in Ghana or only as applied to your person of interest?”
The IGP Dr Dampare cautioned Madam Thompson not to interfere in matters that do not concern her.
“For the moment, we would recommend a Ghanaian saying that might guide you in your diplomatic engagements. The saying goes: – “di wo fie asɛm”— it means learn to keep within the limits of what concerns you.”
Police Administration’s Response to the British High Commissioner’s Tweet on the Arrest of Oliver Baker-Vormawor, on 17th May, 2022 pic.twitter.com/ZIlFYHWKdx
— Ghana Police Service (@GhPoliceService) May 31, 2022
But the British High commissioner has reacted to the police chief’s response telling local TV channel GHOne that her tweet was never intended to incite Ghanaians.
Harriet Thompson said “Ghana is peace loving nation where people have the right to express themselves, they do have the right to come out to protest against things that matter to them. A tweet like that will not get Ghanaians on the street in my view. It looks like my tweet wasn’t received as it was intended. I didn’t expect a response from the IGP at all.”
She added that “If I was told there are chances like that, I will not be tweeting like that, that’s clearly not my intention but I haven’t seen anything like that for the time I’ve been here that will suggest his response.”
The Ghanaian social activist Oliver Baker- Vormawor whose arrest sparked this row was first arrested by the police in February this year for making claims of carrying out a coup if a controversial electronic levy policy is passed by the country’s parliament.
Barker-Vormawor was arrested by operatives from the National Security at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
The lawyer and Cambridge University PhD student was picked up upon arriving from the United Kingdom.