Ebo Quansah in Accra .
Whoever sent those goons in national security attire to the residence of Mr. Dela Kwasi Brempong, National Democratic Congress Parliamentary candidate, on the day of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in Accra on Thursday, January 27, 2019, must have their heads examined. I do not think any sane person would begin the process of perpetuating that kind of violence on innocent Ghanaians.
It was needless, unnecessary, and a criminal misuse of power. Come to think of it, the violence aided no one. Ayawaso West Wuogon has always been a safe New Patriotic Party (NPP) seat. Ever since Mrs. Rebecca Akweley Adotey, a Deaconess of the Apostolic Church of Ghana, stole the people’s verdict from Mr. Isaac Amoh during the 1997 parliamentary elections, and only had the decision reversed at the Supreme Court a few months to the presidential and parliamentary elections of the year 2000, the elephant has always triumphed at Ayawaso West Wuogon over the umbrella. The 2019 by-election was not going to change anything, anyway.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) was in disarray going into the polls. The party could not hold a single rally in the run-up to the vote. As a matter of fact, there was organised noise in the party, calling for a pull-out. The reason given was as flimsy as it has always been on issues pertaining to the legitimacy of the political edifice Jerry John Rawlings built.
The contention was that the voters’ register given to the party was sporting some names not familiar to the NDC, and that the Electoral Commission had tampered with the document, even though the commission insisted that the voters’ register was the same document used in the 2016 parliamentary elections for the constituency.
It is interesting to note that no one has alluded to the voter’s register since the NDC lost the vote disastrously. Now, everybody has jumped unto the violence issue as if it was the reason the NDC candidate lost. Truth is that the violence was despicable. How could machomen in masks in the company of police and state security officials invade a private residence and beat up everybody in sight, in the name of a by-election? It is alien to the democratic culture we are evolving.
What is annoying is that those who plotted the invasion might have thought that they were doing the candidate of the NPP a favour. They might have also believed that by seeking to intimidate the opposition, they ought to be patted on the back by the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
I am told that National Security Minister Bryan Acheampong has owned up to the mess. I expect him to be invited by the Emile Short Commission to substantiate this allegation and tell Ghanaians why he should continue to have a job.
At the time this callous act was visited on innocent Ghanaians, President Akufo-Addo was walking tall in national politics, following the successful meandering in the Dagbon chieftaincy conflict, resulting in the successful enkinment of a new Ya-Na, and the eventual resolution of the conflict.
Nana Akufo-Addo had also skillfully engaged the management of AngloGold Ashanti to re-open the Obuasi mine, closure of which had turned the once vibrant Obuasi township into a ghost town.
Without allowing the President to bask in these glorious achievements, the perpetrators of this crime got the President and his government sunk into the Ayawaso by-election mess. Now the government is being bashed left and right, and negating all the achievements of the past week.
One hopes and prays that the three-man commission, comprising Mr. Emile Short, one-time head of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Prof. Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, an eminent Law Professor at the University of Ghana, Legon, and Mr. Patrick Acheampong, one-time Inspector General of Police (IGP), with Mr. Kofi Abotsi, a Lecturer in Law at the University of Ghana as Secretary, will get to the bottom of the matter.
One would like to believe that the commission will identify the culprits and recommend the necessary sanctions, so that those who contrived to visit violence on innocent Ghanaians, including Mr. Sam George, Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, would pay for their misdeeds.
The Presbyterian Church of Ghana issued a statement condemning the Ayawaso violence and called for an immediate and swift investigation into how National Security was compromised in the events leading to the mess.
“We are, therefore, as a matter of urgency, calling on the security agencies to investigate the incident and make their findings public for everybody to know what actually happened on the day, and all those found to have taken part in the violence dealt with according to the laws of the land,” the statement, issued in Accra, said.
The statement was signed on behalf of the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Rt. Rev. Prof. Joseph Obiri Yeboah Mante. It said if the matter was not investigated and the perpetrators escape justice, such acts of indiscipline would serve as a license for those who have the intent of institutionalising violence in Ghana’s democratic processes
“We, as a church, believe that all these incidents of violence during polls in Ghana continue to be happy because those engaged in such acts are left unpunished.”
A number of civil society organisations have expressed their disquiet over the incident. Pressure group Occupy Ghana has fielded a number of questions for Security Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah to answer.
The violence was unacceptable. But I am getting annoyed with ugly noises coming from human beings who have supervised over the visitation of violence on the good people of Ghana the most. When I hear former President John Dramani Mahama dramatising the Ayawaso violence and demanding a boot-for-boot approach from the NDC, it set a very bad tone for the 2020 polls. The former President suggested that the party he may be leading into the polls might be well adapted to political violence. I do not dispute his claim.
For the purpose of emphasis, read the lips of Mr. Mahama, former President of the Republic of Ghana and the man seeking the flagbearership of the NDC into the 2020 presidential race.
“I want to sound a word of caution that the NDC has a revolutionary root, and when it comes to unleashing violence, no one can beat us to that. It is just that we are midwife to this country’s democracy, and that is why we must be the first to respect it.” The former President of this Republic is quoted to have uttered these words on the campaign trail in the Adaklu Constituency of the Volta Region.
Read more of Mr. Mahama’s out-burst in the Volta Region. “That is why we are acting as a party that is docile and respecting the rule of law. But if we believe that the government cannot protect our people, and we believe that the government is using its vigilante groups and illegal forces to intimidate and harass and injure our people, then we may have to advise ourselves.”
Since making this unguarded statement, the former President has been lampooned by concerned Ghanaians. One-time Methodist head Very Reverend Emmanuel Asante, Chairman of the National Peace Council, issued a statement calling on the former president to tone down his rhetoric. “I urge him (Mahama) to tone down. I believe he may have spoken in the heat of what happened yesterday, so I appeal to him to calm down.” The Most Rev. Prof. Asante said leadership is not about stocking the fire.
A security analyst, Adam Bonaa, fell short of calling the presidential outburst irresponsible. “Every level-headed person should be worried by Mahama’s words,” he told newsmen in Accra.
A Senior Research Officer at the Centre for Democratic Dev elopement (CDD), Dr. Asante Pumpuni, is beside himself over Mr. Mahama’s comment. He believes the comment could be injurious to the health of this country’s democratic development.
“Knowing John Mahama all these years, I am just shocked to have heard him speak the way he did.”
The problem with Mr. Mahama’s statement is that, unfortunately, it represents the truth. The NDC was born in violence, nurtured in violence, and has, unfortunately, used violence as an electoral tool over the years. But, before I come to the NDC and its violence nature, permit me to make this observation.
Mr. Mahama, as a former head of state of this republic, is paid a huge sum from state resources for his upkeep. My understanding is that he is required to be a statesman, contributing to the wellbeing of this society.
Now, Mr Mahama is now an opposition candidate throwing mud at everybody and the institution of this nation as a political edifice. Is it right that my taxes are employed to rundown the society on the campaign trail? I will like to believe those well versed in constitutional matters would pronounce on Mahama the candidate and my taxes being used to prop him up.
If I have my way, this society would no more fund his campaign life-style. Meanwhile, it is pertinent to look at the NDC and its apostles, in the wake of the introduction of violence as a political tool.
When Jerry John Rawlings staged his coup of December 31, 1981, violence was identified as the main ally in cowing down Ghanaians to accept the military junta. Evidence abounds that dead squads were nurtured to intimidate the general populace to acquiesce to the presence of the military junta. One such squad, headed by Lance Corporal Amedeka, had three of its members living at the boys’ quarters of the leader of the so-called revolution at Ridge, a fashionable suburb of Accra.
When the murder squad that abducted the three judges and an army officer on June 30, 1982 was busted, all four of them – Lance Corporal Amedeka, Tony Terkpor, Johnny Dzandu and Hekli – told the Special Investigation Board that at the time they were carrying out these misdeeds, they were under no illusion that they were carrying out the directives of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).
It is instructive to learn there were many unsolved murders, including the assassination of Yeye Boy, a powerful juju man who was shot in broad daylight and his body exhibited in the open at the Ho Sports Stadium.
Other unsolved murders include those of Apostle Barnabas Akrong, Editor of the Believers Newspaper, a number of officers and men of the Ghana Air Force stationed in Takoradi, and seamen who simply evaporated from this earth in Sekondi.
As you read this column, Nana Osea Ntifu Ababio, Aburihene and Adontenhene of the Akwampim Traditional Area at the time, has not been found after arriving at the Kotoka International Airport from a visit to Europe. But the murder most foul was that of a priest from the Volta Region, whose body was washed ashore at the Bortianor Beach, near Accra.
The interesting scenario was that when the body was found at the beach in 1983, the official statement issued by the Ghana Police Service was that the body of an African American had been washed ashore. The response from the American Embassy in Accra\ was that no American citizen had gone missing in Ghana at that point in time.
How the police identified the deceased as an African American without autopsy gave the game away. Apparently, the deceased priest was mistaken for the then Bishop Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, now the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra.
If you saw the Archbishop shedding tears when ex-President Jerry John Rawlings appeared before the National Reconciliation Council in Accra, that is your answer.
When the NDC was founded, I dare state, using the whole governance system and state resources, the party did not shed any of the violent streaks of its antecedent.
The genesis of vigilantism in the Fourth Republican experiment owes its genesis to the establishment of the Azorka Boys within the umbrella family. The history of election violence, especially during by-elections in this country, since the coming into being of the 1992 Constitution, could be traced to the activities of the so-called Azorka Boys.
That is why I came out of my shell when I read the so-called open letter from Mr. Kofi Totobi Quakyi, one-time Minister of National Security in the NDC regime, to the President – Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Incidentally, Mr. Quakyi was there right from the era of the PNDC. He was one of those who prosecuted the agenda that translated into one decade of the culture of silence.
Read snippets from Mr. Totobi Quakyi’s epistle. “The unsettled scores of yesterday’s men must not condemn the hopes of tomorrow’s and of their generations. I have been scandalised by the suggestions that the armed masked men who set upon innocent Ghanaians are agents of our National Security apparatus. High-ranking appointees of your administration have severally made this claim, and premised their justification on the ghastly brutality on the same.”
Mr. Quakyi said the events at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election marked a notable escalation in political thuggery that was fast becoming the norm in our political evolution, rather than the exception.
I am particularly intrigued by the former junta official’s reference to a Methodist hymn that enjoins believers to know that there comes a time that defines truth from falsehood – fantastic sermon that ought to engage the attention of the deliverer himself.
Whether he likes it or not, history will judge him as one of those whose names became synonymous with all the atrocities that defined the PNDC as a notoriously dangerous regime in the annals of this country’s political evolution. At the time fishermen were said to be catching human bodies at sea, in those heady days of the so-called revolution, Mr. Totobi Quakyi was deeply involved at the very centre of the junta politics of the time.
My heart would be at rest if the main actors in the PNDC atrocities, including Mr. Kofi Totobi Quakyi, would be touched by divinity to denounce the atrocities visited on their fellow human beings. I am glad to know that Mr. Kofi Totobi Quakyi now believes that violence should not be entertained in our body politic. Holy be thy name!
I am beginning to nurse the feeling that the road to Damascus could pass through Accra. Whatever it is, I am definitely in no mood for lectures on peace building from those who used violence as a political tool in those heady days.
There is one thing I have learned from the communication manual in school. The message is as good as the messenger. I do not believe Mr. Totobi Quakyi is in any position to lecture me or any Ghanaian who lived through those turbulent times on how to avoid violence. Before this sermon, the former ally of Jerry John Rawlings and the master himself should apologise to the good people of Ghana for using murder, assignation and thuggery as a political tool.
What happened during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election is not acceptable in any democratic dispensation. We are waiting for the Emile Short Commission to identity the culprits and recommend the right punishment for them.
I am not prepared to accept the notion that because there has been violence, those who actually perpetrated the the worst form of atrocities on Ghanaians can rub salt into our wounds. No, I would not listen to any lecture on how to avoid violence from Mr. Kofi Totobi Quakyi. He knows why.
I shall return!