Security Sermon by Professor Kwesi Anning Are we not overlooking or disregarding something more serious here?
Let us discuss these two scenarios. There is a ravaging bush fire directed by strong winds towards a settlement. A lady with license to drive only up to saloon cars jumps on a mummy truck and starts to convey the villagers out of danger and across the river to safety. She does this over and over and over again until everyone is safe, however, in the process, a few got seriously injured. Will she be a heroine or a villain? Mind you, she was not licensed to drive trucks.
In the second scenario, faced with the same danger of ravaging bushfire, an unlicensed driver jumped behind the steering wheel of a truck and saved the lives of all the villagers and ends up slightly injuring a few in the process. Will he be a hero or a villain? Mind you, he was not licensed at all to drive.
Hawa Koomson claimed she fired a warning shot at a registration center in her constituency to ward off the gathering of mobs who could have jumped at each other’s throats and settle an illegality in a most bloody manner, because the National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate, who is not an indigene of the area, has been busing down people from Gomoa East and Nsawam to the constituency to register. This is a crime, punishable, perhaps, by withdrawing the visitors’ right to vote or a jail term, or both. The ugly side of this criminal act is likely bloodshed if the locals rise up, armed with weapons, to drive the intruders away. And this is what our security expert, Prof Kwesi Anning, premeditatedly never recounted as a serious security threat, but rather was very determined to accuse Hawa Koomson of breaching security laws.
We are hearing from some quarters that it was not Hawa Koomson who fired those warning shots, but rather one of her men, and that she was only covering up. If it is true, then it is obvious that the guy was not licensed to carry and use firearms. In this illegality, like the unlicensed driver in the second scenario, even though he might have saved a situation by preventing bloodshed, is he a hero or a villain?
The debate went on, and may still go on, as people share their views on the Kasoa violence, where Mavis Hawa Koomson was the star actress.
In the case of security expert, Professor Anning, one would have expected him to take up the whole issue in context and deal decisively with the reason Hawa Koomson went to that polling station in the first place. He, rather, with a predetermined and prejudiced mind set, only discussed the Minister and continued to pronounce her guilty in every aspect.
He hammered on reasons why she should not have kept a gun on her, for, according to him, the law does not allow high profile persons like a minister to arm themselves, since they have security details. I never knew this.
He went on to stress that even if she was licensed to own and carry a firearm, the law does not permit her to use it in a crowded place unless she had applied for police permit. Mmmmm, quite interesting! Could this be the reason why the late Major Mahama did not use his pistol at his assailants because there was a crowd attacking him and he had not got a police permit to fire shots?
Prof Anning was very emphatic that the Minister erred, and went on further to serve us information to suggest that if Hon Hawa Koomson got out of this, with the police investigation clearing her of any misconduct, when everything points to the fact that she misconducted herself, it should not be surprising, since the Ghana police has got a very rich history of falsifying records to cover tracks. Is this security expert not rather creating insecurity among Ghanaians, especially when he could not come out with any strong evidence to support that claim? In all this, Prof Anning also believed it was wrong for political gurus to go to monitor registration exercises, since when?
What the Professor preached was more of academia rather than of factual. In the first place, the energy he used to convince us that Hon Hawa Koomson did wrong could have been spent on telling us of the need to punish those who bused down “aliens” into the constituency, an incident that could trigger communal violence, with possible loss of lives. We have some examples of pockets of violence due to busing of people during this 2020 compilation of the voters’ register.
Such violence of that nature could be interpreted as a conflict between the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and NDC, and the ripple effects could spread across the country. And, seriously, this is what a whole security expert and a professor with a predetermined mind chose to ignore, and rather condemned something comparatively minute – firing of warning shots by a Minister of State.
I will understand the NDC if it condemns Hawa for what she did, because her single action disrupted its plans of busing people across the country to register in areas it hoped to capture.
I will understand other people who will want to play to the gallery and scream “foul,” because they want Ghanaians to know them, but certainly not a Professor who must, firstly, analyse the whole situation and come out to tell us who went wrong, and recommend what should be done to make sure that the action which resulted in that reaction of the minister, never ever happens again.
Unfortunately, we have a professor saying it is wrong for a politician to visit registration centers, and, if I may ask, where is that stated in the law? Politicians are among the major stakeholders in the matter, in fact, everything is all about politics. Is Prof aware that the party agents are politicians, and they are mandated by law to stand by and monitor the process and raise challenges where necessary?
In this industry called politics, on such occasions the political gurus, especially the parliamentary candidates, must be seen on the ground. They are the most important persons where complaints, grievances, requests and recommendations are addressed to. The Electoral Commission (EC), at all levels, from district to national, find it more convenient to interact with the politicians in the offices and on the fields, especially to ensure peace in every aspect of the electoral processes.
Professor Anning must get to know this, but, guess what, we are talking an academic don here. And that academia is not in touch with the realities on the ground in some instances in this country was clearly exhibited by Professor Anning, and this is dangerous, because he has sold in the minds of many Ghanaians that no high profile politician must be seen going round monitoring events at polling stations. And such personalities can be wrongly attacked. He has raised an issue which could result in grave security consequences, and he holds himself as a security expert. That a politician must not show up at polling centers, so how do they register or vote? This is only theoretically possible in academia, perhaps.
And the issue is that academia, in some areas, is not benefiting society. Apart from agriculture, medicine, engineering and other subjects, where there are more practical works than theory, most of academic works in our educational institutions are not in relation with the facts on the ground. So, when a young graduate gets employed as an officer in, say, a bank for instance, the clerk or even the messenger will teach him basic practical banking, something that should have been taught in the colleges and universities. Some of these graduates who get employed can even land themselves into big trouble by unknowingly doing the wrong things.
I will like to state here, and for a fact, that I am not backing Hawa Koomson because she belongs to my party. I am only supporting her as I will support any other person, irrespective of his or her party, for preventing any acts of communal violence which could easily have erupted when the indigenes rise up against the “aliens” who were bused down to steal the sole right of the locals to choose their political heads.
But academia is saying here that this fear of bloody clashes are irrelevant, since it cannot be found anywhere in the books on security. Rather, someone who heard of a criminal act taking place and storms the ground and fires warning shots to disperse the mob has bleached all security laws and has put lives of innocent people at risk. So such a person must be disgraced and punished. If this is the way a security expert thinks and wants us to go that way, then God save this country.
Bloody conflicts that can erupt at polling stations have more to do with accusations of a voter or someone who is about to register to vote, but has been identified as an “alien,” meaning, completely unknown as a member of the community. The EC frowns on busing of people, but it does not go out to prevent such people from registering. It gives this responsibility to the party agents. But, at the same time, its laws demand that no one should be prevented from registering, and go on to mandate those who oppose that person to rather pick up a challenge form, so that the eligibility of that person can be challenged later in a “tribunal.”
Knowing how our system works, most of those to be challenged in some way somehow do not get to be successfully challenged or not even challenged at all. Blame it on bureaucracy or politics of the day, so the result is people in the locality will rather prefer attacking and driving away the “aliens”, than giving them the opportunity to prove their status in the area. This can generate into bloody clashes, where it is not a case of one or two people, but bus loads. The political party which made that arrangement may decide to harness all in its power to fight back. This is the reason why the EC made it an offence for busing of people to registration centers. Apart from the fact that those people do not hail from the area, or do not reside there, actually or ordinarily, the fear that there could be clashes and innocent people could get hurt, the Commission did the right thing in pronouncing that busing down of people is illegal. It could also be very possible that those bused down had already registered in their home constituencies, another serious electoral offense. We are already being told of cases of multiple registrations during this exercise.
Comparing the firing of warning shots to bloody conflicts, I believe any security expert should focus on the latter, since such conflicts can have ripple effects that could prove to be a threat to national security.
I am sorry to state that in all his submission, Professor Anning, a security expert, failed to identify the real threat to security in the Kasoa saga, and chose to play to the gallery, the way most Ghanaians do, by condemning the reaction and forgiving and forgetting the action. He also, unfortunately, raised unnecessary sentiments by informing Ghanaians that in the event where police investigations cleared Hon Hawa Koomson it could be possible the police did what they do best, by falsifying the report to make the guilty walk free. This alone can have serious security implications, since those who choose to believe Hawa did the wrong thing will never be convinced otherwise with the report. And guess what, next time they will take the law into their hands and lynch someone.
This unnecessary story about the police exposed the premeditated mind of the professor in shying away from objective analyses of the whole situation in a premeditated and prejudiced determination to pronounce Hawa guilty before any trial. Now, if today, academia is saddled with this sex-for-grade issue, and by what Professor Anning said about the police, will he feel okay about it, if people say female students who passed through his hands and performed well in their courses of studies to graduate tops were, in fact, academically poor students, but were awarded the grades because they gave sex in exchange?
Hon Daniel Dugan
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s editorial stance