The government has responded to the concerns expressed by civil society organisations (CSOs) and appointed a four-member Commission of Enquiry to probe into the circumstances that led to the violence that occurred at Bawaleshie during the just-ended Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election. This is the second time in less than a year that the government has supported a probe into an issue of national interest.
Exactly a year ago, the government accepted a Parliamentary inquiry into what became known as ‘Cash for Seat Probe’. The Minority Chief Whip in Parliament, Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, had alleged that the Trade and Industry Ministry provided support for a private event organiser, which sold seats to anyone interested in sitting close to the President at an awards dinner for expatriates. The allegation was that expatriates who sat close to the President paid GH¢100,000, a claim which was denied by the Trade Ministry.
The latest commission, which was set up by the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, in consultation with President Akufo-Addo who is currently out of the country on official duties, is headed by a former Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Emile Short.
Other members are Mrs. Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, Mr. Patrick K. Acheampong, a former Inspector General of Police, and Kofi Abotsi, a private legal practitioner, who will serve as Secretary to the commission.
A statement issued by Mr Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications at the Presidency, gave the terms of reference of the commission as follows: To make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to, the events and associated violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on the 31st day of January 2019.
To identify any person responsible for, or who has been involved in the events, associated violence and injuries; to inquire into any matter which the Commission considers incidental or reasonably related to the causes of the events and the associated violence and injuries; and to submit within one month its report to the President, giving reasons for its findings and recommendations, including appropriate sanctions, if any.
In a related development, OccupyGhana, a pressure group, has written to the Minister for National Security, Kan Dapaah, demanding information on how the forces were deployed during the recent by-election at Ayawaso West Wuogon.
The following is the full letter written to the Minister.
During the 31st January 2019 parliamentary by-election held at the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency in the Greater Accra Region, your office deployed an armed force (not established by law) to ostensibly perform policing duties.
We have seen video footage of these men, attired and bearing arms, engaging in acts of violence that we have condemned in our Public Statement of 1st February 2019.
We have also seen that some of these men were being driven in vehicles bearing the name and insignia of the Ghana Police Service, and were, in some instances, chauffeured or accompanied by persons who appeared to be regular police personnel.
Concerned about the legality or otherwise of that force, we have checked the Constitution (particularly articles 83 to 85, 200 and 210) and all statutes relevant to National Security, and have found no law that backs the force that your office deployed.
Sir, Ghanaians have exercised our “natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government” for ourselves, which is required to secure for us and posterity the blessings of liberty among others. It is for this reason that our Constitution affirms that “all powers of Government spring from the Sovereign Will of the People,” in “whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in [the] Constitution.” Thus any act(s) and/or omission(s) that threaten these aspirations and legitimate expectations of Ghanaians ought to arouse the concern of all responsible and well-meaning Ghanaians.
Therefore, we write to demand that you kindly indicate to us:
i. The legal bases upon which you assembled, maintained and deployed that force, of any;
ii. The circumstances under which the Ghana Police Service facilitated the acts of that force by supplying vehicles or other logistics for the operations of that day;
iii. The reason and necessity for maintaining the said force outside the legally and constitutionally recognised services established by law;
iv. The procedure for recruiting persons into the said force; and
v. The financial provision made for maintaining this force.
We demand answers to these questions because the powers of government, as required by law, must be exercised, first, in the welfare of the people who were inexcusably violated by this force, and second, “in the manner and within the limits laid down in [the] Constitution.”
This letter is a formal request for information under Article 21 of the Constitution. Further, it constitutes statutory notice of our intention to take appropriate action against the Government should you fail to respond to and address the issues we have raised.
Thus if we do not hear from you we shall go to Court to seek reliefs including (but not limited to): (a) providing the information requested above, (b) declaring the said force illegal, (c) ordering that the force be disbanded, (d) ordering you to account for all of sums of money expended on maintaining this force, (e) and further ordering that all such sums be refunded to the State, the expenditure on the said force being contrary to law.
We are counting on your co-operation