By Maxwell Ofori
Mohammed Sulemana, a member of the National Security’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit, will thank his stars for not facing any sanctions after freely exhibiting his slapping prowess on the smooth cheek of a parliamentarian.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram constituency, Samuel Dzata George, was given a dirty slap by Sulemana, which dazed him momentarily.
The video containing the action, which looked like a movie, was shot around the La-Bawalashie polling centre during the recent by-election held in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency in the Greater Accra Region and was premiered on social media minutes later.
The rather peaceful electoral process, which was marred by the unfortunate chaos that resulted in a number of casualties, necessitated the setting up of a commission of inquiry to probe what led to the incident and suggest recommendations.
The Commission, chaired by Justice Emile Francis Short, a former Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) concluded its work having interviewed over 20 witnesses, including security capos, and submitted its report to the President.
In the report, the Commission, which included a law lecturer Professor Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, a former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong, and former Dean of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) law school and Kofi Abotsi as secretary to the commission, recommended the prosecution of Mohammed for slapping the MP.
However, in its White Paper on the report, government said, “the report failed to address the first and most critical of the terms of reference of the commission.”
According to the terms of reference, the commission was among other things instructed “to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to the events and associated violence that occurred during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.”
It added that “The failure to do so disables government from accepting in whole the findings of the commission.”
Explaining why the recommendation for the prosecution of Mohammed could not hold, government said Mohammed, the SWAT officer seen on camera assaulting the Ningo-Prampram MP did not need to be prosecuted, contrary to the opinion of the commission.
The government contends that the facts presented by the commission supported “a valid defence of provocation for the said assault [by Mohammed Sulemana].”
The Commission also pointed out what it described as lack of coordination at the top of the security hierarchy as a major failing on the day of the by-election.
It said that the duties of the Minister for National Security, National Security Coordinator and the others in the structure, play virtually the same roles.
Thus, “the Commission recommends that the president should review and restructure the Ministry of National Security establishment with a view to ensuring clarity of responsibilities and roles as well as lines of reporting.
“The Minister of State appointed at the presidency to the Ministry of National Security should have a clearly delineated role with responsibilities indexed to that of substantive sector minister. This should establish a clear chain of command and the circumstances under which he or she can act in the absence of the substantive Minister,” the report observed, and questioned the level of training of National Security Personnel.
Aside from the rejection of the recommendation on the assault, government also disagreed with the Commission’s finding that “there is a lack of clarity of responsibility and roles as well as lines of reporting.”
The government’s White Paper cited the Constitution and the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 which “spell out clearly the responsibilities and roles of the various offices within the national security establishment.”