We won’t withdraw Military – Nitiwul says they’re there to secure borders
The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, says the government has no intention of withdrawing the military personnel it has deployed to Volta, Oti regions, and, in fact, all the border regions, because they are not there for the voters registration exercise, but to secure our borders and also prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
The Minister’s statement follows a news conference addressed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Volta Region at Aflao, where they alleged that the military had been deployed to intimidate the residents from being registered by the Electoral Commission (EC) for the December 7, presidential and parliamentary elections.
But Minister Nitiwul, who was addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday, said the soldiers are to remain at the borders and have no business at the registration centres, and called on the people in the Volta and Oti regions to go out in their numbers to register without any fear of intimidation.
The Minister, who said the deployment was across the country, also stated that the number of soldiers in the Volta Region was the lowest with ninety-five soldiers and three officers.
Mr. Nitiwul pointed out that two officers and 70 soldiers had been deployed to the Oti Region, eight officers with 199 soldiers to the Upper East Region, three officers and 44 soldiers to the North East Region, four officers and 65 soldiers to the Upper West Region, two officers with 26 soldiers in the Western Region, and only 64 soldiers to the Savannah Region.
“There is something I want to make clear. We have always had soldiers in Aflao; sometimes ten; sometimes fifteen; sometimes twenty, depending on the threat. Since Kwame Nkrumah, we have always had soldiers in Aflao, Elubo, Paga, Hamile. We call it Operation Sit and Look. So, I am surprised that people are saying we have sent thousands of soldiers, it is not true. This current deployment is one officer, fifteen men that we have added to that place,” he stated.
The Minister continued: “We are preventing people from coming into our country so that Ghanaians are safe from this deadly Covid disease. Because the unapproved routes are so many that the Ghana Immigration Service alone is unable to do it, as we keep resourcing them.
“So, we asked the police, military, GRA to assist them. Once the borders are extended, their stay will be extended. For marine, if we watch the marine news very well; we have deployed more boats to the Eastern and Western frontiers of our country. So, it is not just the land borders. The marine borders, we have done same,” he observed.
He said that the deployment was not only in the Volta Region, and that he was surprised people were not talking about the troops in the Northern Region. “More soldiers…helicopters were flying over and they were doing all these exercises because of the terrorist activists based on intelligence.
“That’s why I am a bit surprised that people who are suddenly creating more mischief and mayhem did not find feet to do that, because they have their people there. You think the northerners their lives don’t matter? North East people their lives don’t matter? You think Northern Region people their lives don’t matter? Or Upper West their lives don’t matter?” he quizzed.
Responding to the concerns of former President Jerry John Rawlings that the deployment should be in a way that would not create suspicion, Mr Nitiwul agreed with him, adding that that was what the ministry was doing.
He, however, debunked an assertion by the founder of the NDC that the deployment was only for the Volta and Oti regions. Concluding, the Minister said the government would not sit and allow people to sneak in and bring the disease into Ghana. He said that whoever would want to come to Ghana should see the embassy to follow due processes, which includes a mandatory fourteen days quarantine at the person’s expense.
Touching on the video that has gone viral on the social media pointing to comments passed by the Member of Parliament for Adansi-Asokwa, K.T. Hammond, on the mission of the security personnel deployed to the Volta and Oti regions, the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who also spoke at the press conference, said the view does not represent that of government.
“When government wants to put out a position, there are a number of government functionaries who put out government’s position. His Excellency the President himself may speak; the Vice President may speak; the Minister or Deputy Minister responsible for the sector, in this case these are matters of military deployment, so either the Defence Minister or his deputies will put it up, or the Ministry of Information may put it up for government.
“Additionally, you have the Press Secretary at the office of the President who may put it out. These are the categories of government spokespersons. I think we have to be very careful in, for example, hearing from a member of parliament who is not a member of government expressing his suspicions about what he guesses is the reason for a particular exercise. We have to be clear to distinguish that from government’s position,” he added.