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Testimony of Sam George at Emile Short Commission

botchway March 12, 2019

 

Mr Samuel Nartey George, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo- Prampram, appeared before the Justice Emile Short Commission in the company of his two lawyers, Mr Francis Xavier-Sosu and Mr Godwin Edudzi Tamakloe, on Monday to give his evidence about what he saw during the recent Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence.

The following is the transcript of the questions posed to him by Counsel for the commission, Eric Osei-Mensah, with interjections from his lawyers and Justice Emile Short.

Q: For the purposes of records, is your constituency Ningo-Prampram?

A: Yes my lord.

Q: Honorable, how far is Ningo-Prampram from Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency?

A: My lord, I don’t have a ready estimation or ready fact, you may have to drive and see how far it is, a few kilometres, possibly some 40 kilometres.

Q: But then you will confirm that the two constituencies do not share a boundary?

A: Certainly so.

Q: Now, there are a few responses on you presence in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency on the 31st day of January 2019, and I have also come across interviews which you have granted that you were present at the constituency, am I right?

A: Yes my lord.

Q: Now, would you tell the commission what took you to the constituency on that day?

A: Okay my lord. My lord, on the 31st day of January 2019, as it is public knowledge, there was a by-election at the constituency. Being a by-election, and as is the practice, by-elections are normally not instituted until members of the constituency and the political parties view them as national events, and so the national hierarchy of my party and the parliamentary caucus got involved in the by-election as is the norm. There was a team of 21 members of parliament that were supposed to work on the day as monitors in that constituency to support the local team and other individuals who would be working on that day. This team of 21 MPs was accredited by the Electoral Commission to be monitors for the NDC. I had been tasked by parliamentary leadership to coordinate the team of the 21 MPs who were acting as monitors. So the night before the election, somewhere around 9:30pm, I received the accreditation tags for all the MPs and the arrangement was to meet them in the morning of the election and hand them the accreditation. That is what took me into the constituency.

Q: Very well. Before I move on I will show you a video.

Counsel directs that the video be played

The Lawyer for the witness interjects that his client should be given the opportunity to give his account of what happened at the constituency, before a possible cross examination.

The Commission Chairman also indicated that the witness would have every opportunity to give his account in the course of the cross examination.

Counsel for commission also indicates that as part of his duty, his questions would guide the witness to give his account of what happened.

Video of Sam George saying “this is so wrong, this is so wrong; you kill a man in his own house; this is so wrong, this is so wrong” is played.

Q: Honorable, this is a video in which you were assaulted by a man said to be a National Security operative. Have you previously seen this video?

A: Yes my Lord.

Q: Now where in the constituency did this thing happen?

A: At the La Bawaleshie polling station.

Q: Now, when the video begun you were seen walking across. Can you tell the commission where you were coming from?

A: My Lord, at this point I think that to aid this commission, I would let you know how I found myself at La Bawaleshie.

In the morning of 31st January, 2019, Thursday at 6:45am, I entered the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency to discharge my duty as an election monitor. My first point of call was the University of Ghana campus, where I met three of my colleague MPs, the Honorable Alfred Oko Vanderpuje, the Honorable Francis and Honorable Linda Obenewa Poku. I met my three colleagues in front of Legon Hall on Legon campus. This was a few minute before 7 that morning. So that was my first point of call in the constituency. There was a polling station in front of Legon Hall, where I met my colleagues to give them their EC accreditation cards as monitors. I noticed a large convoy of about ten vehicles with heavily armed masked men on the street of University of Ghana Campus a few minutes before 7:00am in the morning. After handing out the accreditations to my colleagues, my job entails also going round the campus to other polling stations, which I proceeded to.

I then met with the Regional Secretary of the NDC, Honorable Theophilus Tetteh at Akuafo Hall Annex A where there was another polling station. Whiles engaging with him there, we were joined by the Deputy National Women’s Organiser of the NDC, Maame Efua Sekyi. We interacted for a bit and I told them that I needed to proceed into East Legon, because for the purposes of our monitoring, the constituency has been zoned into seven zones, even though there are six electoral areas. I needed to move into the next zone, which was East Legon. We exited the UG campus through the Opongolo gate, and as soon as we crossed into the Opongolo township I noticed two polling stations right at the entrance there, I stopped. At this time I was accompanied by a second vehicle that belonged to the Deputy National Women’s Organiser. All this time I was alone in my vehicle driving myself. We stopped at the two polling stations there and we interacted with the two presiding officers and the party agent there.

Our next point of call was the La Bawaleshie polling station. Upon arrival at the La Bawaleshie polling station, and for emphasis I repeat. I was driving myself alone in a white Toyota car, which you would see in many of the footages that it was parked in the premises of the polling station. The second vehicle happened to be a Land Rover that had Maame Efua as the occupant with one other person and her driver driving behind me. At La Bawaleshie polling station, we again encountered this convoy of heavily armed masked men exiting the polling station. About three of their vehicles were already on the main street. I was in the lead. In trying to navigate into the premises of the La Bawaleshie School where the polling station was, it’s a fenced off enclosure. The size of my vehicle could not be accommodated by the opening in the fencing that had been done, so I basically had to pull out to wait for the rest of the convoy to exit.

I then noticed that after the first car had gone past me, there were still about five cars left with the Hunter vehicle, the special purpose vehicle that the police use that had the SWAT logo on it, still within the premises of the polling station. But then, I noticed that the cars had stopped and I saw the men in the pickup disembark from the back of the pickup and run behind my vehicle. It aroused my attention. I looked and I realised that close to about thirty of these men had surrounded Maame Efua’s vehicle. I alighted from my vehicle to enquire what was happening. At this point in time it came to my knowledge that they said they were arresting Maame Efua Sekyi and seizing her phone, because she had taken pictures of them. I tried to engage with these masked, built and heavy armed men to no avail. At that point in time, I recognized DSP Samuel Kojo Azugu. And this commission would justify that he has an imposing structure. And seeing him there, I approached him, because somebody whom I knew from the news, err, that involved the Agogo Fulani herdsmen issue, that was the first time I got to know the DSP, then ASP Azugu. To see him there in full police uniform I approached him and introduced myself to him. I approached DSP Azugu. He was standing a few metres away from the altercation that was going on. I approached him and said to him, DSP my name is honorable Sam George, and he said yes I know you. And I said you are standing there and seeing the assault that is going on, you need to intervene and stop your boys. And he asked me what was the problem, and I said that is the Deputy National Women’s Organiser of the NDC. This is just around 8:00 am. It’s too early in the morning for as to have any escalation and flaring of tempers. Arresting the National Women’s Organiser for taking pictures in a by-election like this will create a major problem. He walked with me to the vehicle and gave the instruction that the men who were trying to arrest Maame Efua let go off her and return her phone to her. Once that was done, the boys pulled off and Maame Efua’s phone was given to her. We were allowed entry into the polling station.

So I drove in and parked my car by the fence and went straight to the polling station. It was a polling station in a three-storey structure that was there. The polling station was on the ground floor. I approached the Presiding Officer, the security officer on duty at the Immigration who was dressed in an Immigration uniform and spoke to him. And while I was speaking to my party’s agent at that polling station, I noticed that the armed masked men had now started running towards a direction behind the building that housed the polling station. It aroused my attention again, and I asked what was going on. I am there to monitor an election so I needed to know why these whole people, close to fifty, and there was a call, hey come, come, come, and it was just a mad rush towards that place. After I asked and I wasn’t given any answers again I approached DSP Samuel Azugu, this time, when I approached him I noticed he was walking with another gentleman who was not wearing a mask, but was wearing a military ballistic helmet, wearing an olive long green shirt and had a military issued bullet-proof vest on and was wearing khaki trousers, and he was holding an AK47assault rifle. I recognised that gentleman as a National Security operative that I had encountered at the VIP Lounge at the Kotoka International Airport the last time I travelled, but he was part of this operation and was walking with DSP Azugu. Then I approached DSP Azugu again, and I asked him what his men were going to do behind the building. I went back to him because based on his order to the men when they were trying to arrest Maame Efua.

 

That they complied with that, he was in control. This time I kept gesticulating and telling him the men were going there, and he just waved them off with a brush of the hand and said nothing was going on. When I realised that I wasn’t getting headway this time, I decided to follow up myself and get there and see what was happening. I followed the trail of men and ended up at a place which I found out, at that point, to be residence of the NDC parliamentary candidate in the election, Kwesi Delali Brempong. Before that I didn’t know that he even had a house close to the polling station. Upon getting there, I saw between forty to fifty of these heavily armed masked men, all in NSC emblazoned black T-shirt and khaki trousers. I didn’t take notice of the men wearing the uniform of the Ghana Police Service at that scene. And then I also saw a crowd of about thirty to forty men and women, some of the women were carrying children, and there appeared to have been a stand-off between these two crowds that I met.

I approached and tried to get in between to find out what was going on. Some of the men in the crowd noticed me and recognised me and said honourable, they have come and trying to intimidate us and they have seized our key, and I said what key? They said one of these Invisible Forces has seized our keys. When I turned around, I noticed the gentleman from the National Security that I describe earlier, who works at the Kotoka lounge for the VIP, who I know I had encountered previously and known to be called Double. At that location, many of the men who were in the NSC emblazoned T-shirts were carrying side arms, pistols, and many of them were either masked, unmasked and they were wearing the NSC emblazoned T-shirts.

 

 

 

 

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