The organizer of the annual ‘Chale Wote’ Street Arts Festival has reported very poor conditions in which inmates of the Accra Regional Police cell are kept after he was arrested together with others for allegedly breaching COVID-19 protocols with this year’s organization of the festival.
According to Nii Ayertey Aryeh, popularly known as Mantse, inmates are cramped up like sardines without any regard for social distancing.
He also reports of Police officers’ cruelty to inmates including the sick.
“There’s also no social distancing or observation of any COVID protocols here, that’s the irony. Some of the officers aren’t pleasant at all. Last night we had to beg one officer to hand over medication for a sick person. The police officer was insisting he wait till morning,” Mantse told the media.
According to him, many of the inmates have been incarcerated for a long time because they cannot afford the legal fees needed to hire the services of lawyers to fight their cases for them.
“If there are any lawyers out there in a position to do pro bono representation for about 30 people at the regional headquarters at Accra Central, I’m certain they would be grateful. Some of them have also been abandoned by their families. Others owe a ¢1000 and are unable to come up with it. Some have manslaughter charges and can’t afford lawyers,” he said.
Mantse and his colleague Nii Ayitei, along with artist Kwaku Ananse were picked up by the police on Saturday, August 21, in Jamestown outside the Ussher Fort.
He reveals that they have been refused bail by the Police and had had to spend the weekend behind bars.
According to Mantse, the Police and the AMA’s claim that they were arrested for breaching COVID-19 protocols while holding an exhibition at the usher Fort is a false fabrication.
“The statement by the police circulating certain media portals are fabrications and outright lies calculated to deceive the general public and cover up their brutality against artists and innocent people in Gamashie…At the meeting, I was told that their landlords, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, had asked them not to provide security so they wouldn’t show up at the festival. Mind you; it was an indoor event. I explained that our activities were going to be indoors with strict observation of COVID protocols.”