Ashanti NDC complains of intimidation of members in voter registration exercise
The Ashanti Regional branch of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has expressed its displeasure over developments in the ongoing voter registration exercise that commenced on June 30, this year.
According to Mr. Kwame Zu, Ashanti Regional Secretary of the party, the members of the NDC are going through intimidation and harassment at the hands of some military and police personnel, perceived to be conniving with the various District Security Committees, headed by Municipal and District Chief Executives, in championing their evil agenda at suppressing NDC votes in the Ashanti Region.
He disclosed that the NDC, as a political party, has been actively participating in the registration exercise across the nation.
But, he said, the NDC has observed lapses in security, widespread intimidation of registrants and agents of the NDC, and disparities in figures from the EC and that collated by party agents.
The NDC has called on the security services to enforce the law or they would advise themselves.
He stated that the Sekyere Afram Plains Constituency has been a seat for the NDC since its creation in 2012, and has traditionally not been a hotspot in any electoral activity. Surprisingly, the District Security Council, chaired by the District Chief Executive (DCE), who is also the parliamentary candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has decided to tag the constituency as a hotspot for violence.
On Tuesday June 30, 2020, the police arrested two agents of the NDC over their decision to challenge persons they suspected to be ineligible to register at the Presby Primary School Centre, Drobonso.
Upon their arrest, they were battered by the police, contrary to Article 15 (2) of the 1992 Constitution, and detained for three days.
He noted: “It is sad to state that both of them sustained various degrees of injuries, but they were denied medical support while in unlawful police custody, which took the intervention of the regional leadership of the NDC to secure bail for them on the third day of their arrest, contrary to Section 15 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1960 (Act 30).”
On Thursday July 9, 2020, 15 registrants were arrested by the military at the Sekyere Afram Plains District office of the Electoral Commission (EC) on the instructions of the DCE that they were suspected foreigners. Sadly, they were beaten severely by the military and later locked up at the Drobonso Police Station.
The Regional Secretary requested that the military officers who assaulted these young men be taken through the necessary disciplinary procedures and punished accordingly.
He indicated that on July 6, 2020, the incumbent Member of Parliament for the Ejura Sekyedumase Constituency, Muhammed Bawa Braimah, was physically attacked without provocation by thugs, on the instructions of Salisu Bamba, the Chief Executive of the Ejura Sekyedumase Municipal Assembly at Ejura-Nkwanta.
Some of these known thugs were earlier seen in the official vehicle of the MCE hours to the unfortunate physical attack on the MP. It is sad to state that, but for the timely intervention of the residents of Ejura Nkwanta, the narrative would have been awful.
He said the onslaught on the MP was obviously intended to be lethal and without a human face.
He expressed the party’s regret to announce that though the perpetrators of this heinous crime are known, and that their names have been duly submitted to the Ejura Police Commander, Supt Owusu Bempah, none of them has been arrested.
He said, in a rather bizarre manner, Supt Owusu Bempah has elected to refer to these known thugs at every opportunity as unknown assailants, and for that matter, they have subsequently reported the case to the Divisional Police Commander and Regional Police Commander awaiting action.
He lamented that the development had outraged the whole Ejura Sekyedumase Constituency, and for fear of reprisal attacks, the MCE and the entire NPP leadership now monitor the ongoing voter registration exercise with police and military escorts.
The NDC scribe said the party knows where Bala, Afoko, Obour, Baba Wale, Hasanu, Abass, Puutin, Anyars, Alhassan Fuseini, Razaku and their families live, but y chosen to be law abiding citizens, and gave the Ejura District Police Command 72 hours to arrest those known thugs.
Mr. Zu revealed that on July 2, 2020, gun-wielding officers from the Anti-Robbery Unit of the Ashanti Regional Police Command, on the invitation of the NPP Chairman for the Manso Nkwanta Constituency, stormed the Presby Primary B registration centre at Pakyi No. 2 and fired shots without cause, chased and arrested one agent and five branch executives of the NDC for allegedly stalling the registration process, a claim, he said, was utterly false.
He said the NPP Constituency Chairman and Youth Organiser for the Manso Nkwata Constituency led the police officers with a Nissan Hardbody pickup vehicle through the principal streets of Pakyi No. 2, ostensibly to demonstrate power over the NDC, as they accompanied the police team to the Regional Police Command and ordered for the branch officers and agent of the NDC to be locked up, which, again, took the regional leadership of the NDC hours to get them bailed.
He also made mention of the Ahafo Ano North Constituency that on Saturday July 11 2020, the BVR kits deployed to the D/A Primary School Akwadaanyame 1 Registration Centre stopped functioning a few hours after the start of the exercise, and many attempts by the EC officials to resolve the issue were unsuccessful, the NDC agent for the centre traveled to the next community because there was no mobile connectivity at Akwadaanyame, and contacted the District EC officer for replacement of the BVR.
Unfortunately, the District EC Officer declined his request and claimed they simply needed an IT technician to rectify the situation, who took 4 hours to arrive, yet was unable to resolve the situation.
The over 300 registrants in the queue were aggressively dispersed by the military in a manner that was intimidating and shameful, yet, interestingly, the very community is a known stronghold of the NDC.
“The military is still heavily present in the Ahafo Ano North Constituency; we call on the 3rd Infantry Battalion to withdraw its men and allow the registration exercise to be conducted without intimidation and needless aggression.”
He revealed that at the end of the 1st batch of the 1st phase of the registration exercise, the EC registered 7,869 applicants in the Offinso North Constituency, however, Madam Jean Mensah published 26,886 registered applicants.
In the Afigya Sekyere East Constituency, the EC registered 8,975 applicants, but, again, Madam Jean Mensah published 14,263.
In the Juaben Constituency, the EC registered 5,802 applicants, but Madam Jean Mensah published 11,574.
In the Afigya Kwabre North Constituency, the EC registered 5,268 applicants, but Madam Jean Mensah, again, published 10,419, and believes that these acts were deliberate, saying these are carefully calculated and well-designed attempts to pad figures in the Ashanti Region.
Mr. Zu said the NDC had drawn the attention of the EC to the developments, and given the Commission 48 hours to publish the right figures for the 1st batch of the 1st phase of the exercise to safeguard the integrity of the new voters roll.