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DSP Samuel Kojo Azugu’s testimony at the Emile Short Commission

botchway March 12, 2019

 

By Agnes Ansah                  .

The Commander in charge of National Security SWAT team, DSP Samuel Kojo Azugu appeared before the Justice Emile Short Commission on Monday to give his evidence about the recent Ayawaso West Wuogon  election violence.

The following is the transcript of the questions posed to him by Counsel for the Commission, Eric Osei-Mensah and the answers he provided.

Question: Is it alright to assume that you are on secondment to the national security?

Answer: Yes, my lord

Q: For how long have you been on secondment to the national security?

A: My lord, over a year ago

Q: Is it possible to give a specific time when you started?

A: That is about…, it was February, so about a year and 5 days because I took over, on the 12th of February.

Q: As a Commander of the SWAT team, could you please describe your duties to the commission?

A: My Lord, as the Commander of the SAWT team, I am in charge of policemen who are posted to the national security to serve in the SWAT unit and my responsibilities include taking direct instructions from my Supervisor, who is the director of operations, national security and on whatever instructions he gives me.

Q: Very well DSP, are you in a position to tell the commission the composition of the national security SWAT team.

A: Yes my lord, I am the commander and I have a Chief Inspector who is the station officer, deputised by another Inspector. I have 31 men for operational processes and 2 office staff, if I say office staff I mean a Secretary and Logistics officer.

Q: So then, from the number you have just given, you have 33 members of staff?

A: Yes my Lord, plus me, the station officer and his deputy, so we are 36.

Q: Now we are also told that the national security SWAT team has civilian operatives, are you aware of that?

A: My lord we don’t have civilian component of the national security SWAT team. We have national security operatives at the Secretariat -National Security Council, and when the need arises, based on the information that we are to act on, especially with regards to surveillance, intelligence and recognisance that have been done that we sometimes collaborate and join forces to tackle the problem.

Q: Now these civilian operatives, would you be able to tell the Commission, that is, if you know whether they are trained or not, to undertake the kind of duties they are assigned to?

A: My lord, I know for sure that those who are always used and are asked to report to me, they are trained based on the interactions and the knowledge that I have about them, because sometimes we even train with them and some of the courses that we attend they take part. The Secretariat will not bring somebody who is not trained to join the National Security.

Q: So DSP, from your answer, are you telling the commission that you have specific individuals for the one year you have been in charge, that you have acted with or operated with, is that what you are saying?

A: I, I …

Q: Let me rephrase the question, my question is this, are you telling the Commission that there are some specific individuals, limited number specific, that you have always used when the need be, and I mean civil operatives?

A: My lord, that’s not exactly what I mean, I am saying not all of them are trained. Those who come to join us in operations not all of them are trained, but I know that most of them have been given training.

Q: Okay, now, on their training, have they been trained for instance as to how to handle weapons?

A: No

Q: Are they trained in crowd handling for instance?

A: My lord, crowd handling are part of the training, they are given an armed combat training, the nature of our training are such that we don’t do crowd management activities, we only act on information which leads us to particular locations and we do ‘search and cordon’ operations, which are mostly covert in nature.

Q: So, let me ask you again, are you telling the commission that the civilian operatives within the National Security, as you sit here, you can’t tell as to whether they receive crowd handling training or management, if you like?

A: Yes my lord, I can’t affirm to that.

Q: What about the police component?

A: Yes my lord.

Q: Chief, so what if in the cause of carrying out your duties you are confronted by a number of people, how do you bet that those people are going to act, since they have not received those training?

A: My lord, we have never met such a challenge before, so I cannot just give you information like this

Q: What duties are normally assigned to the civilian operators?

A: Okay, when we, I don’t want to divulge, but when we go to any location for operation, because the police component are armed, sometimes when you have to move in to track people down and you are holding a gun, it may cause problem, because maybe the person will try to resist arrest, you are armed and anything at all can happen, so that maybe the gun may fire by mistake, that may cause problem, so when we are moving the armed men are there to give us cover, so that the operatives move in together with me sometimes, then when we are supposed to tackle the issue we move and efficiently execute the assignment.

Q: Okay DSP, let me ask you this, what specific duties are normally assigned to the civilian operatives?

A: That one my lord, I can’t tell, it is only when we are going on operations and they are supposed to augment us that I can say, but there are other roles that they play, very major roles, important roles that they play at the National Security Council.

Q: I am limiting you at the moment to the SWAT team because from time to time, you have carried operations with them, haven’t you?

A: Yes.

Q: You have?

A: Yes please.

Q: So think of one of this operations and if it is possible, tell the commission what role the civilian operatives played?

A: Yes, most of them, depending on the location, they have local knowledge of areas so we assign the operatives based on the area that we are proceeding to and they will have the better knowledge of the area, the terrain and also give us the proper direction to our target.

Q: Very well, now let me ask you a question about the police component, the SWAT team?

A: Yes, my lord.

Q: How long do they stay with the National Security, if you have any idea after they have been deployed from their various commands.

A: My lord, as I have already stated, normally a police man, when you are seconded, based on the host organisation or outfits assessment of you, sometimes even they will like men to stay, but on the discretion of the police administration they can transfer you at any time, but as it stands now I don’t think there is a limit to their stay.

Q: If I heard you right, correct me if I am wrong, you are saying that while on secondment two things can happen, either the host decides to keep you or the police administration decides to transfer you, even though you are on secondment, is that what you are saying?

A: Yes my lord.

Q: So then what you are telling this Commission is that whiles on secondment the police administration is still in charge and in control of officers on secondment, is that what you are saying?

A: Yes my lord, my lord, as far as you are on secondment, right now as SWAT commander, I am under the Director General Operations, but per my day to day activities I am accountable to the DGO-National Security, who in turn gives Director General Accra, Police Headquarters any information from our end.

Q: Who writes annual reports on these police officers on secondment and we are limiting ourselves to the SWAT team?

A: My Lord it is me

Q: The civilian element, do they wear any particular uniform?

A: My lord they have black T-Shirts, especially when we are going for operations, they wear black T-Shirts

Q: DSP, you know we recently had bye-elections at Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency?

A: Yes, my lord.

Q: Did you personally as the commander of the SWAT team play any role?

A: Yes, my lord, on that day I was in charge of the National Security that set out to go and do confidence building and general patrols.

Q: So, then you are telling this Commission that the National Security was  officially part of the election task force for the day, is that what you are saying?

A: No, my Lord, the National Security was having a special assignment, that is to go on confidence building, patrols and also lay surveillance on particular areas, which have come to the notice of the nNational Security.

A: On the question of confidence building, what exactly were you supposed to do and what did you do?

Q: My lord, the confidence building was, we just set out to our location and drive through some of the streets leading to the constituencies.

Q: And that constitutes confidence building, is that not it?

A: Yes please.

Q: You didn’t need to talk to anybody?

A: Yes please.

Q: Just drive around?

A: Yes please.

Q: Now have you also heard about a shooting incident near one of the polling stations, to be specific, La Bawaleshie polling station?

A: Yes my lord.

Q: Have you also heard about a situation in which a member of parliament was said to have been assaulted by a person believed to be a National Security operative?

A: Yes my lord, it has come to my notice.

Q: How did it come to your notice?

A: Through social media

Q: So then officially there hasn’t been any report?

A: There is a report my lord on this issue, I was there but I did not see it physically with my eye because of the location of my vehicle, the position of my vehicle at that particular moment I couldn’t see, so it was through the audio visuals that I saw that one of my boys allegedly assaulting the MP.

Q: Okay, so then you have watched the video?

A: Yes, I have watched.

Q: On your own account you have even stated that it was done by one of your own boys?

A: Yes, my lord.

Q: And you have been able to identified that person?

A: Yes, my lord.

Q: Are you ready to give his name to the Commission?

A: My lord, I will give it to the Commission but in camera.

Q: Don’t worry, we will give you a paper to write it down.

A: Okay

Q: Now, have you subsequently investigated that matter?

A: Yes my lord, we are on it, the National Security Council administration is on it. Because the  Ghana Police Headquarters (CID) have come in so they have taken over and doing the necessary investigations.

Q: This operative, is he a police officer?

A: He is a civilian operative.

Q: As you sit here. you wouldn’t be able to tell the Commission what caused the dispute, is that what it is?

A: Yes, my lord.

Q: Have you had any interactions with him or you did not see the need to speak with him?

A: My lord, what that particular operative told me I can give it to the Commission in camera because it is in bad taste what he said the honorable MP told him and my lord it will not be palatable for me to mention it to the whole country.

Q: DSP, fortunately this Commission is not immune to profanity or anything else.

Emile Short interjects

DSP, we are going to allow you to write the name of the person who assaulted the MP.

A state official was assaulted, which you are aware of, we don’t see any National Security matter in that, you should be able to tell us what led to the assault.

A: Yes my lord, with all due respect it is not of national security but national cohesion, national unity, because what he told me that the MP told him, even as we are here maybe if I say it the MP may be attacked by somebody, especially if I mention it live, you know, so that I am adamant to say it so that in subsequent sitting if it can come out but my lord I don’t want to be the carrier of a problem which will put this country into trouble.

Q: Can you write that on a piece of paper and let’s have it so that we can go on?

A: Yes sir.

Q: Can you make that operative available, the person whose name you have written, the person who assaulted the MP?

A: Yes my lord.

Q: Make him available for us, if need be we will take his evidence in camera.

A: Yes my lord.

Q: So, lets proceed

Counsel Eric Osei-Mensah takes over

Q: Now DSP, can you tell this Commission what action you might have been taken against this operative who assaulted the honorable MP, would you be in position to tell us?

A: My lord, to the best of my knowledge, he has been sidelined for the meantime. He has been put aside, suspended from work in the meantime.

Q: I asked about a shooting incident around the La Bawaleshie area and you said you knew about it, am I right?

A: Yes my lord.

Q: How did it come to your notice?

A: I was there and I witnessed it.

Q: You witnessed it, now you witnessed it in your capacity as what?

A: As the commander who led the team to the area.

Q: Now are you able to tell this Commission where exactly the incident happened?

A: My Lord, the shooting started from the compound house behind the polling station, about 100 yards away from the school building

Q: DSP if you say started from a compound house what exactly are you saying?

A: I am saying there was a gunshot which attracted our attention from the main road. While we were on the main road, we heard the gunshot and we moved there to ascertain what was going on so that no more gunshots were being fired from that compound house

Q: By who?

A: I couldn’t identify them, some unknown persons.

Q: If you say ‘we’, who are you referring to?

A: My lord me and my team.

Q: You and your team?

A: Yes my lord.

Q: How many men did you have on your team?

A: We were 60 in number.

Q: How many police?

A: Twenty-five policemen.

Q: And I guess 35 civilian operatives, am I right?

A: You are right my lord.

Q: Now what took you to the area?

A: As I already stated, I was given information while we were setting off from our location that there is intelligence that there were a stock pile of weapons in a particular area, so I should go to that particular area and make the necessary arrangement for deployment and possible search of the facility.

Q: You were there to make arrangement for deployment and possible search?

A: My lord, our presence there was to position ourselves for me to be able to access my deployment list in order to know the number of people to place at a location before we move, because our operations are such that if we go to a facility to conduct any search, we position the men at particular points where those coming in cannot come and those going out cannot go to enable a successful retrieval of any illicit item that we are looking for.

Q: Now positioning of your men, as at the time the of the incident, had you successfully positioned your men at the vantage points?

A: My lord, if you may allow me, when we got there we drove from the Mempasem direction to the Bawaleshie area, but when we approached, there we were in 10 vehicles and I was leading the team, so my vehicle and the second vehicle behind me parked on the main street leading to the polling station.

Then because it was a working day ,Thursday, there was a lot of traffic on the road and our presence was hampering free flow of traffic, so we were doing the necessary arrangement to position our vehicles and then also continue any further action that we wanted to take.

So while making that traffic management arrangement to allow free flow on the main street and also enter the school park, we spotted a convoy of motor bikers and they numbered about 15 and some with one or two  passengers and they were coming in a group so it aroused my curiosity and I said let me verify what was going on.

So when they approached us, actually the riders didn’t know we were there so as they approached they realised that we were on the street.

I saw three other vehicles which were being escorted by those bikes and those three vehicles came to park with the motor vehicles, and some of them disembarked from the bikes. When the occupants of the vehicles got down I realised that the first vehicle, Honorable Sam George, MP for Ningo-Prampram was in, together with one man and the Deputy National Women Organiser. The other vehicle was occupied by Honorable Nii Oko Vanderpuije and the third a salon car.

So when they came I approached them, greeted them as a sign of courtesy and I approached those on the motorbikes. I asked some of them what they were coming to do and they said they were coming to protect the ballot paper at the voting going on at the school.

Then I told them that, my brothers you can see from there that there are policemen from Immigration, the state has made enough provision for that so there is no need for you to be here.

I said this because their presence may hamper the operation that we were there to conduct but they didn’t take kindly to that, so they started to banter with me and even one of them, the deputy Women’s Organiser at a point took pictures of my men and because they didn’t know that she was the one, so there was an altercation. So I and Honorable Oko Vanderpuije came in and that problem was resolved and there was peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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