A Ghana civic leader charged with treason felony after social media post about a coup

Ghana authorities are on the alert against coup attempts. They jailed a civic organization leader protesting against the E-Levy who allegedly suggested a coup against the government. He is the latest in a series of arrests against government critics.

President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo
President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo in December 2021 during a visit from South African officials | © Government of South Africa

The activist Oliver Barker-Vormawor was arrested by Ghanaian authorities on February 11 at Accra airport where he landed from the United Kingdom.

Oliver Barker-Vormawor is the leader of Fix The Country, a civic movement launched in May 2021.

The Ashaiman District Court on Monday remanded Oliver Barker-Vormawor into police custody until February 28. He has been charged with a treason felony.

Authorities consider that he called for a coup d’état. “If this E-Levy passes after this Cake bullshit, I will do the coup myself. Useless Army!”, Oliver Barker-Vormawor posted on Facebook on February 9.

The Police statement said his “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 E-Levy is a controversial bill in Ghana that led to several protests since its announcement.

In November 2021, the Finance Minister of Ghana announced the introduction of a 1.75% tax on all electronic transactions, including mobile payments, from January 2022.

The E-levy, short for Electronic Transaction Levy, would apply above GHS 100 (US$16) spent online per day. The tax was later reduced to 1.5%. The new directive expects to bring GHS 9 billion ($1.5m) to the State every year.

The E-Levy tax is highly criticized while mobile banking and electronic payments can help reduce financial exclusion in remote areas. Critics of the bill argue the population would move towards cash to avoid the tax.

The bill hasn’t passed yet.

A ‘criminalization of speech’ for the former president of Ghana

Ghana authorities have arrested a number of government opponents recently. Since December, three journalists and a think tank director were arrested.

Former President John Dramani Mahama, who lost a second term bid in 2016, wrote an open letter to President Nana Akufo-Addo. He said he was “appalled at the growing criminalization of speech and journalism in Ghana”, denouncing “disturbing incidents of harassment of journalists in the line of duty” and also the murder of an investigative journalist “under very troubling circumstances”.

Ghana deputy minister of defense Kofi Amankwa Manu said that security agencies were ready to prevent any coup attempts.”If we want to take a decision so far as changing government in this country we will go to the ballot box and not to use the bullet”, the minister said.

Kofi Amankwa Manu further considered that mentions of a coup damage Ghana’s international image, frighten investors and have a devastating effect on Ghana’s economy.

Africa has been affected by several coups recently such as in Sudan, Mali, or Burkina Faso.

Read more about Ghana

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