The former Ashanti Regional Manager of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Mr Afrifa Yamoah Ponkoh, was subjected to a barrage of questions yesterday by the police, after he was picked up around 9am in the morning over the killing of Wasihu Idrisu, a National Democratic Congress (NDC) member in Kumasi. Also arrested and interrogated was the former Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Joseph Yammin.
Sources say Yamoah Ponkoh’s house at Ejisu near Kumasi was thoroughly searched by the heavily armed police officers, before he was finally hauled to the Regional Police Command in Kumasi to face the interrogation panel. As at the time of filing this report, the police had not officially commented on the arrest of the former Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Ejisu.
Mr Yamoah Ponkoh admitted in an interview he granted to the media that he was picked up in the morning. According to him, two uniformed policemen came to his house around 9am to invite him to the Regional Command of the Ghana Police Service for a discussion. Ponkoh further said the policemen insisted on searching his house before they drove him to the regional office in Kumasi.
He further told the media that he initially demanded to see the warrant before he would allow them to conduct the search, but he later abandoned the idea and allowed them to search the house. According to him, after they had meticulously finished searching, he was asked to accompany them to the Regional Police Headquarters.
He said his plea to the policemen to take the lead and that he would follow them later was turned down by the arresting officers.
Based on this, he followed them to the Police Headquarters where he met the interrogation panel. He said contrary to what he thought, it was rather a friendly discussion, after which he was asked to write a statement, which he did. He said it was after he had finished writing down his statement that the police told him they were looking for Joseph Yammin, a former Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, and that they had gone to his house but did not meet him. Yamoah Ponkoh claimed he quickly called Yammin on phone that the police were looking for him, a call he responded to by reporting himself to the police a few minutes later.
The Chronicle reporters covering the arrest of the two NDC stalwarts said Mr Yamin was driven to his house around 6pm for a search to be conducted. At the time of putting this report together, it had not been established whether some incriminatory material were found in the house.
What was supposed to be a friendly meeting between the national and Ashanti regional executives of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Monday turned bloody when one of the members of the Hawks, a vigilante group affiliated to the party, opened fire on an officially recognised security guard at the Regional Party Headquarters.
The deceased, Wasihu Idrisu, was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. Meanwhile, the suspect who reportedly shot and killed Wasihu is threatening the life of the deceased’s sister, after the latter had published his pictures on facebook.
From Ernest Best Anane, Kumasi .
Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General-Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), also known as General Mosquito, has challenged Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo, Senior Minister in the Nana Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to resign.
His position is premised on the fact that Osafo Maafo, by inference, believes that exposing wrongdoing in the country by political vigilantes to foreign partners is unpatriotic.
The NDC chief scribe argued that anyone who tries to cover up wrongdoing in society must be referred to as unpatriotic, and not one who exposes it.
His comment was in reaction to allegations that former President John Dramani Mahama had shown videos of violent scenes of the Ayawaso Wuogon by-election to the diplomatic community in the country, for which the Senior Minister described the former president’s action and conduct as unpatriotic.
Speaking in Kumasi on Nhyira FM’s morning show, hosted by Kofi Asante Ening on Monday, Asiedu Nketia noted that the NPP, as a political party, has done worse things than what they are accusing the former President of, so Osafo Maafo and the NPP have no moral right to criticise John Mahama. He added that the late J.H. Mensah and others had thrown eggs at Professor Kwesi Botchwey at a donors’ conference in the past.
Asiedu Nketiah, therefore, entreated Mr. Osafo Maafo to resign, because there is no logic in saying that sharing information with our development partners is unpatriotic.
He claimed the NDC will also show the videos to the Socialist Forum and other gatherings around the globe.
The NDC scribe called on all stakeholders, including the media, to add their voices to ensure that such electoral violence are not entertained in our body politics.
He said if the NPP claims the videos shown to diplomats are fake, then it is the media that rather sent wrong videos and information about the Ayawaso West Wuogon violence, because they (NDC) got the videos from the various media houses in the country.
By Maxwell Ofori .
The Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, has advised political parties, and Ghanaians as a whole, to see issues of security as a collective responsibility.
According to him, the pointing of accusing fingers whenever a crime is committed should cease forthwith.
The Minister, who was speaking to journalists on the shooting incident that occurred at the Ashanti Regional office of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) last Monday, said individual lives should be paramount, instead of parochial interests.
He described the incident as criminal and called on all to condemn it. He did not agree with the political colourisation of the incident, saying, “When you say political vigilantism, what is that? Assault is assault, stealing is stealing, murder is murder. There’s nothing else to say about it.”
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) and NDC have been accusing each other after the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, without proffering any solution to the issue of vigilantism in the country.
Former President John Mahama exacerbated the situation when he summoned foreign diplomats in the country to his office, and purported to portray the barbaric nature of the NPP to them.
But, to the Interior Minister, the Kumasi shooting “is an opportunity for us all, as political parties, to recognise the point we’ve been making all along, that security is a collective responsibility.
“It is not a blame game, pointing of fingers. This person is involved, who caused it? The important thing is there’s an offense committed; we should all work together to bring those who are culpable to book and let the law take its course,” he told journalists at Parliament House yesterday.
He gave the assurance that the President was very firm on his commitment to tighten the security of the country, and would continue to work to protect the country and its people.
Ambrose Dery, before ending the interview, entreated all to help the police in investigating criminal issues, instead of taking the law into our own hands to seek revenge, “because that in itself would be another form of vigilantism, namely, that you’re taking the law into your own hands. You’re not supposed to enforce the law yourself, and you’re enforcing it.”
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, in a separate interview, expressed worry and concern over what, he said, was the crippling insecurity in the country and the emerging violence, which, he said, remains the greatest threat to the country’s democratic process.
He called on the police, in relation to the shooting in the Ashanti Region, to deal ruthlessly with the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
“The law must deal strictly, decisively, and ruthlessly with any person associated with the event.”
By Maxwell Obiri-Yeboah .
The Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, DCOP Patrick Sarpong, has attributed the cause of the chaos during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election to the lack of communication between the Police Service and the National Security Council’s (NSC) mode of operation.
According to him, the police had no knowledge about the NSC’s approach in ensuring peace and security, and this, is the reason why violence marred the beauty of the recently held by-election.
DCOP Mr. Sarpong told the Emile Short Commission of Enquiry yesterday, here in Accra, that the police “would have done” anything to prevent this mayhem, because his men were ready.
This answer came when he was being grilled by the counsel to the commission, Eric Osei-Mensah, for over an hour before Justice Emile Short came in to ‘punch’ him this hard. The DCOP briefed the commission that “because they (the NSC) operate on their own without reference to the Regional Command, we didn’t know anything about them, because, if there has been information that there is the need to do an exercise, we were all prepared and we could have done it.
“But, just that they (the national security) didn’t plan anything with the Regional Command that they would be in town and for whatever purpose.” Justice Short then pushed him with yet another question: “Is that helpful for the security of this country?” The DCOP then answers, “I don’t think so, Mr. Chairman.”
Earlier, DCOP Sarpong gave a contrary report and also expressed surprise to the commission that the East Legon Commander, DSP George Lysander Asare, was not “shoved aside” from taking part in the operational duties as an officer during the Ayawaso Wuogon by-election, but rather disobeyed orders.
Last week Friday, when DSP Asare appeared before the commission, he stated that “My Lord, ideally, the District Commander, in whose jurisdiction the by-election is supposed to be held, should be part of the exercise. But, in my case, that did not happen.”
But, today, exactly thirteen minutes after the commission started interrogating DCOP Sarpong, Counsel Osei-Mensah asked him if “the Commander of East Legon District,” was given prior notice “as in his role” before the election took place. He responded in the affirmative and went on, “Mr. Chairman, I communicated to him on mobile phone; I sent him a message, and I have it here.” He, therefore, reached for his phone and retrieved the message for the commissioners.
Counsel Osei-Mensah then took the DCOP’s mobile phone and read the content of the message aloud. It was confirmed that it was sent on January 30, 2019 at exactly 9:47pm to the East Legon Commander.
“Good Evening. Report at RHQ at 0500 hours to join other officers and lead a patrol team. All district commanders are to let their drivers bring their pickups at exactly 0500 hours to be assigned for patrol,” the message read.
However, DCOP Sarpong reiterated that there was no response from the DSP George Asare.
He went on to show a similar message that he sent to another officer by name of Superintendent Bonsu at the Accra Central Division on the same day through the same medium, via his personal phone, and at the same time. Superintendent Bonsu rather answered, “Ok, My Boss. Thanks.”
Again, he tendered an official document to the commission that showed details of his outfit addressing all divisions under his command before the election to report to the regional office with their drivers, as well as their cars, which they use for operations within their various divisions.
DCOP Sarpong went further and told the commission that on his way to inspect what went on at the polling station, DSP George Lysander Asare called and informed him that he was taking his ward to the hospital for treatment.
By Maxwell Ofori .
The Ghana Beyond Aid Committee has presented to President Akufo-Addo a strategic document outlining how the country would achieve its vision of self-reliance.
The Committee called on the President at his office yesterday, where the Chairman, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, presented a copy of the document to him.
Giving brief remarks, the Chairman, who is also the Senior Minister, indicated that a copy would also be sent to Parliament for the legislators who represent the entire country to have a discussion on it.
Further briefing the President on how the Committee put together the document, which could literally be described as Ghana’s guide book to move her from virtually begging for aid, the Senior Minister stated that key institutions of the country were put together to work on it.
He said a seven-member Committee was put together to look into the whole idea of a Ghana Beyond Aid. This, he explained, was to make the Committee “very clear where we (Ghana) are going, and where our targets are.”
He continued that the Committee, having put together a Strategic Document, decided ab initio, that they had a Charter out of the strategic document, which would be a two-page document for easy reading, and to be displayed in offices.
“And, Mr President, we also said that for a buy-in of the whole country, this document must be laid before Parliament, so that they discuss it in detail and seek the opinion of all the country’s representatives in Parliament.”
According to the Senior Minister, the Committee sought support from thirty different institutions, academia, and universities in the country, adding that the Committee had twenty-two reports presented to it on Ghana Beyond Aid.
He added that others read in the media and presented their view of the Ghana Beyond Aid, including those in the diaspora, all of which have been captured in the document.
On his part, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, whose vision the Committee worked on, expressed appreciation, indicating that the putting together of a document on his vision was a sign of the Committee’s commitment to the Ghana Beyond Aid project.
According to him, the importance of the project is in two folds, which, he stated, were why a Ghana Beyond Aid and how to achieve same.
He explained that Ghana Beyond Aid has become a decision of the country to get its people to develop itself, without necessarily having to rely on aid from others.
He believed that the country can only progress when it accepts mistakes for its actions, and find ways to resolve same.
He described the document as a guide that will lead the committee as to how it will go about applying the slogan for it to become meaningful in the lives of the thirty million Ghanaians.
Having had the privilege to read an advance copy of the document at Cabinet before the official presentation, the President indicated that the document “provides also very clear guidelines and roadmap for how we are to go about things in Ghana, and to go about things in a collective sense.”
President Akufo-Addo said he was happy that several institutions in the country and people from the diaspora contributed to the cause.
“So, my task this afternoon is very simple, to thank you very much. I am particularly encouraged by the statements the Senior Minister made that the various institutions that were co-opted to work on this found it necessary to send their chief executives. They could have sent young people there to come and speak, but they came themselves. For me it is very significant that the chief executives of the various institutions worked on the document themselves, and made their own contributions. It is encouraging.”
Before ending his remarks, President Akufo-Addo told the Committee members to put themselves in readiness to make constant inputs as the national dialogue takes place.
By Agnes Ansah .
The Commander in charge of National Security SWAT team, DSP Samuel Kojo Azugu appeared before the Justice Emile Short Commission on Monday to give his evidence about the recent Ayawaso West Wuogon election violence.
The following is the transcript of the questions posed to him by Counsel for the Commission, Eric Osei-Mensah and the answers he provided.
Question: Is it alright to assume that you are on secondment to the national security?
Answer: Yes, my lord
Q: For how long have you been on secondment to the national security?
A: My lord, over a year ago
Q: Is it possible to give a specific time when you started?
A: That is about…, it was February, so about a year and 5 days because I took over, on the 12th of February.
Q: As a Commander of the SWAT team, could you please describe your duties to the commission?
A: My Lord, as the Commander of the SAWT team, I am in charge of policemen who are posted to the national security to serve in the SWAT unit and my responsibilities include taking direct instructions from my Supervisor, who is the director of operations, national security and on whatever instructions he gives me.
Q: Very well DSP, are you in a position to tell the commission the composition of the national security SWAT team.
A: Yes my lord, I am the commander and I have a Chief Inspector who is the station officer, deputised by another Inspector. I have 31 men for operational processes and 2 office staff, if I say office staff I mean a Secretary and Logistics officer.
Q: So then, from the number you have just given, you have 33 members of staff?
A: Yes my Lord, plus me, the station officer and his deputy, so we are 36.
Q: Now we are also told that the national security SWAT team has civilian operatives, are you aware of that?
A: My lord we don’t have civilian component of the national security SWAT team. We have national security operatives at the Secretariat -National Security Council, and when the need arises, based on the information that we are to act on, especially with regards to surveillance, intelligence and recognisance that have been done that we sometimes collaborate and join forces to tackle the problem.
Q: Now these civilian operatives, would you be able to tell the Commission, that is, if you know whether they are trained or not, to undertake the kind of duties they are assigned to?
A: My lord, I know for sure that those who are always used and are asked to report to me, they are trained based on the interactions and the knowledge that I have about them, because sometimes we even train with them and some of the courses that we attend they take part. The Secretariat will not bring somebody who is not trained to join the National Security.
Q: So DSP, from your answer, are you telling the commission that you have specific individuals for the one year you have been in charge, that you have acted with or operated with, is that what you are saying?
A: I, I …
Q: Let me rephrase the question, my question is this, are you telling the Commission that there are some specific individuals, limited number specific, that you have always used when the need be, and I mean civil operatives?
A: My lord, that’s not exactly what I mean, I am saying not all of them are trained. Those who come to join us in operations not all of them are trained, but I know that most of them have been given training.
Q: Okay, now, on their training, have they been trained for instance as to how to handle weapons?
Q: Are they trained in crowd handling for instance?
A: My lord, crowd handling are part of the training, they are given an armed combat training, the nature of our training are such that we don’t do crowd management activities, we only act on information which leads us to particular locations and we do ‘search and cordon’ operations, which are mostly covert in nature.
Q: So, let me ask you again, are you telling the commission that the civilian operatives within the National Security, as you sit here, you can’t tell as to whether they receive crowd handling training or management, if you like?
A: Yes my lord, I can’t affirm to that.
Q: What about the police component?
A: Yes my lord.
Q: Chief, so what if in the cause of carrying out your duties you are confronted by a number of people, how do you bet that those people are going to act, since they have not received those training?
A: My lord, we have never met such a challenge before, so I cannot just give you information like this
Q: What duties are normally assigned to the civilian operators?
A: Okay, when we, I don’t want to divulge, but when we go to any location for operation, because the police component are armed, sometimes when you have to move in to track people down and you are holding a gun, it may cause problem, because maybe the person will try to resist arrest, you are armed and anything at all can happen, so that maybe the gun may fire by mistake, that may cause problem, so when we are moving the armed men are there to give us cover, so that the operatives move in together with me sometimes, then when we are supposed to tackle the issue we move and efficiently execute the assignment.
Q: Okay DSP, let me ask you this, what specific duties are normally assigned to the civilian operatives?
A: That one my lord, I can’t tell, it is only when we are going on operations and they are supposed to augment us that I can say, but there are other roles that they play, very major roles, important roles that they play at the National Security Council.
Q: I am limiting you at the moment to the SWAT team because from time to time, you have carried operations with them, haven’t you?
Q: You have?
A: Yes please.
Q: So think of one of this operations and if it is possible, tell the commission what role the civilian operatives played?
A: Yes, most of them, depending on the location, they have local knowledge of areas so we assign the operatives based on the area that we are proceeding to and they will have the better knowledge of the area, the terrain and also give us the proper direction to our target.
Q: Very well, now let me ask you a question about the police component, the SWAT team?
A: Yes, my lord.
Q: How long do they stay with the National Security, if you have any idea after they have been deployed from their various commands.
A: My lord, as I have already stated, normally a police man, when you are seconded, based on the host organisation or outfits assessment of you, sometimes even they will like men to stay, but on the discretion of the police administration they can transfer you at any time, but as it stands now I don’t think there is a limit to their stay.
Q: If I heard you right, correct me if I am wrong, you are saying that while on secondment two things can happen, either the host decides to keep you or the police administration decides to transfer you, even though you are on secondment, is that what you are saying?
A: Yes my lord.
Q: So then what you are telling this Commission is that whiles on secondment the police administration is still in charge and in control of officers on secondment, is that what you are saying?
A: Yes my lord, my lord, as far as you are on secondment, right now as SWAT commander, I am under the Director General Operations, but per my day to day activities I am accountable to the DGO-National Security, who in turn gives Director General Accra, Police Headquarters any information from our end.
Q: Who writes annual reports on these police officers on secondment and we are limiting ourselves to the SWAT team?
A: My Lord it is me
Q: The civilian element, do they wear any particular uniform?
A: My lord they have black T-Shirts, especially when we are going for operations, they wear black T-Shirts
Q: DSP, you know we recently had bye-elections at Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency?
A: Yes, my lord.
Q: Did you personally as the commander of the SWAT team play any role?
A: Yes, my lord, on that day I was in charge of the National Security that set out to go and do confidence building and general patrols.
Q: So, then you are telling this Commission that the National Security was officially part of the election task force for the day, is that what you are saying?
A: No, my Lord, the National Security was having a special assignment, that is to go on confidence building, patrols and also lay surveillance on particular areas, which have come to the notice of the nNational Security.
A: On the question of confidence building, what exactly were you supposed to do and what did you do?
Q: My lord, the confidence building was, we just set out to our location and drive through some of the streets leading to the constituencies.
Q: And that constitutes confidence building, is that not it?
A: Yes please.
Q: You didn’t need to talk to anybody?
A: Yes please.
Q: Just drive around?
A: Yes please.
Q: Now have you also heard about a shooting incident near one of the polling stations, to be specific, La Bawaleshie polling station?
A: Yes my lord.
Q: Have you also heard about a situation in which a member of parliament was said to have been assaulted by a person believed to be a National Security operative?
A: Yes my lord, it has come to my notice.
Q: How did it come to your notice?
A: Through social media
Q: So then officially there hasn’t been any report?
A: There is a report my lord on this issue, I was there but I did not see it physically with my eye because of the location of my vehicle, the position of my vehicle at that particular moment I couldn’t see, so it was through the audio visuals that I saw that one of my boys allegedly assaulting the MP.
Q: Okay, so then you have watched the video?
A: Yes, I have watched.
Q: On your own account you have even stated that it was done by one of your own boys?
A: Yes, my lord.
Q: And you have been able to identified that person?
A: Yes, my lord.
Q: Are you ready to give his name to the Commission?
A: My lord, I will give it to the Commission but in camera.
Q: Don’t worry, we will give you a paper to write it down.
Q: Now, have you subsequently investigated that matter?
A: Yes my lord, we are on it, the National Security Council administration is on it. Because the Ghana Police Headquarters (CID) have come in so they have taken over and doing the necessary investigations.
Q: This operative, is he a police officer?
A: He is a civilian operative.
Q: As you sit here. you wouldn’t be able to tell the Commission what caused the dispute, is that what it is?
A: Yes, my lord.
Q: Have you had any interactions with him or you did not see the need to speak with him?
A: My lord, what that particular operative told me I can give it to the Commission in camera because it is in bad taste what he said the honorable MP told him and my lord it will not be palatable for me to mention it to the whole country.
Q: DSP, fortunately this Commission is not immune to profanity or anything else.
Emile Short interjects
DSP, we are going to allow you to write the name of the person who assaulted the MP.
A state official was assaulted, which you are aware of, we don’t see any National Security matter in that, you should be able to tell us what led to the assault.
A: Yes my lord, with all due respect it is not of national security but national cohesion, national unity, because what he told me that the MP told him, even as we are here maybe if I say it the MP may be attacked by somebody, especially if I mention it live, you know, so that I am adamant to say it so that in subsequent sitting if it can come out but my lord I don’t want to be the carrier of a problem which will put this country into trouble.
Q: Can you write that on a piece of paper and let’s have it so that we can go on?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Can you make that operative available, the person whose name you have written, the person who assaulted the MP?
A: Yes my lord.
Q: Make him available for us, if need be we will take his evidence in camera.
A: Yes my lord.
Q: So, lets proceed
Counsel Eric Osei-Mensah takes over
Q: Now DSP, can you tell this Commission what action you might have been taken against this operative who assaulted the honorable MP, would you be in position to tell us?
A: My lord, to the best of my knowledge, he has been sidelined for the meantime. He has been put aside, suspended from work in the meantime.
Q: I asked about a shooting incident around the La Bawaleshie area and you said you knew about it, am I right?
A: Yes my lord.
Q: How did it come to your notice?
A: I was there and I witnessed it.
Q: You witnessed it, now you witnessed it in your capacity as what?
A: As the commander who led the team to the area.
Q: Now are you able to tell this Commission where exactly the incident happened?
A: My Lord, the shooting started from the compound house behind the polling station, about 100 yards away from the school building
Q: DSP if you say started from a compound house what exactly are you saying?
A: I am saying there was a gunshot which attracted our attention from the main road. While we were on the main road, we heard the gunshot and we moved there to ascertain what was going on so that no more gunshots were being fired from that compound house
Q: By who?
A: I couldn’t identify them, some unknown persons.
Q: If you say ‘we’, who are you referring to?
A: My lord me and my team.
Q: You and your team?
A: Yes my lord.
Q: How many men did you have on your team?
A: We were 60 in number.
Q: How many police?
A: Twenty-five policemen.
Q: And I guess 35 civilian operatives, am I right?
A: You are right my lord.
Q: Now what took you to the area?
A: As I already stated, I was given information while we were setting off from our location that there is intelligence that there were a stock pile of weapons in a particular area, so I should go to that particular area and make the necessary arrangement for deployment and possible search of the facility.
Q: You were there to make arrangement for deployment and possible search?
A: My lord, our presence there was to position ourselves for me to be able to access my deployment list in order to know the number of people to place at a location before we move, because our operations are such that if we go to a facility to conduct any search, we position the men at particular points where those coming in cannot come and those going out cannot go to enable a successful retrieval of any illicit item that we are looking for.
Q: Now positioning of your men, as at the time the of the incident, had you successfully positioned your men at the vantage points?
A: My lord, if you may allow me, when we got there we drove from the Mempasem direction to the Bawaleshie area, but when we approached, there we were in 10 vehicles and I was leading the team, so my vehicle and the second vehicle behind me parked on the main street leading to the polling station.
Then because it was a working day ,Thursday, there was a lot of traffic on the road and our presence was hampering free flow of traffic, so we were doing the necessary arrangement to position our vehicles and then also continue any further action that we wanted to take.
So while making that traffic management arrangement to allow free flow on the main street and also enter the school park, we spotted a convoy of motor bikers and they numbered about 15 and some with one or two passengers and they were coming in a group so it aroused my curiosity and I said let me verify what was going on.
So when they approached us, actually the riders didn’t know we were there so as they approached they realised that we were on the street.
I saw three other vehicles which were being escorted by those bikes and those three vehicles came to park with the motor vehicles, and some of them disembarked from the bikes. When the occupants of the vehicles got down I realised that the first vehicle, Honorable Sam George, MP for Ningo-Prampram was in, together with one man and the Deputy National Women Organiser. The other vehicle was occupied by Honorable Nii Oko Vanderpuije and the third a salon car.
So when they came I approached them, greeted them as a sign of courtesy and I approached those on the motorbikes. I asked some of them what they were coming to do and they said they were coming to protect the ballot paper at the voting going on at the school.
Then I told them that, my brothers you can see from there that there are policemen from Immigration, the state has made enough provision for that so there is no need for you to be here.
I said this because their presence may hamper the operation that we were there to conduct but they didn’t take kindly to that, so they started to banter with me and even one of them, the deputy Women’s Organiser at a point took pictures of my men and because they didn’t know that she was the one, so there was an altercation. So I and Honorable Oko Vanderpuije came in and that problem was resolved and there was peace.
By Maxwell Obiri-Yeboah .
The District Police Commander for East Legon in Accra, DSP Asare appeared by Justice Emile Short Commission last week Friday to give evidence about what he saw during the recent Ayawaso by election violence. The following is the transcript of the questions posed to him by Counsel for the commission, Eric Osei Mensah and the answers he provided.
“So then, would it be right for me to suggest that, if an election for instance is being held, within a constituency in your district, do you play a role? -Counsel for the Commission
“My Lord, ideally, the district commander, in whose jurisdiction the by-election is supposed to be held should be part of the exercise. But in my case, that did not happen -DSP Asare
Question: And is there any reason why that did not happen?
Answer: My Lord, this question can best be answered by the regional commander and the regional operational team, headed by Chief Superintendent Kwasi Fori.
Question: So if I get you right, what you are trying to tell the commission is, if I’m wrong correct me, that until you are instructed by the Regional Commander, you don’t play any role. Is that what you are saying?
Answer: My Lord that is not what I mean. But in this particular instance, I was of the view that the authority (the regional commander) will allow the normal system to operate, but this time round it did not happen, to the extent that I complained that, why is it that as a district officer where the by-election is going to be held, I have been asked to stay aside. Such that my command car was also taken away from me by the regional commander, that I should let my driver bring the pickup to Accra region.
According to DSP Asare, East Legon and Legon commands are two different entities, but they overlap. Both divisions share intelligence and rely on each other in their field of work.
“But I was thinking that if I was not made to be part, the Legon Commander should be brought in. The Legon commander’s name was also not on the list. This is the first time I am seeing such a practice after 23 years of experience in the police service”.
Question: On the day of the election, it is alleged that certain incidents occurred within your district. Are you aware?
Answer: Yes my Lord.
Question: At what point did that come to our attention?
Answer: My Lord, interestingly I was going to cast my ballot at my polling station and this is the first time that I voted in a by-election. Because this time round it was a by-election, I was facing difficulty in locating my center. I a call around 9:00 am from my Regional Commander who didn’t make me part of the exercise, that he has heard that some shootings are going on around Bawaleshie, close to the NDC parliamentary candidate’s house. So I should go and assist.
I quickly returned and came and mobilised men from the station, who were not part of the operation. I mobilised my men and I even brought the situation under control.
Question: Did you make any arrest?
Answer: No my Lord.
Question: Were any arrests made at all?
Answer: Yes my Lord. One DSP Samuel Azu, together with his team made the arrest and the arrested men were brought to my station. I interrogated them and some (the suspects) said they were brought to the premises of the aspiring Member of Parliament, Delali Kwasi Brempong, by Honorable Oko Vanderpuje to give some food to the polling agents.
Suspects Ahmidu Ahmadu, Samuel Afialor and James Moore accompanied Hon. Oko Vanderpuje to the place from Abelemkpe. Theophilus Sedofu, Mohammed Latif, Muzamil Munil and Hudu Fuseini said they came to provide security for their party agents.
Question: And by party agents, were they specific.
Answer: Yes, NDC party.
Question: Now, DSP, were any of these arrested men pictured?
Answer: My Lord, I have their pictures here. I will say that only two out of these seven men I saw in my custody had minor injuries on their head. But those that sustained gunshot wounds were not brought to my custody.
Question: Now, if you say minor injuries, can you give the commission a picture of what you mean?
DSP Asare, in answering the question showed pictures of the suspects to the Counsel and promised to later provide softcopies of the pictures to the Commission.
Prof. Mensa-Bonsu takes over the questioning.
Question: You said you were left out of election duty. Did you ask why?
Answer: Yes my Lord, I ask Chief Superintendent Akwasi Ofori and he told me I shouldn’t worry.
He was later grilled by the Commission when he mentioned that a similar event happened when his role was taken from him for another officer during the 2016 elections.
Question:You are a District Commander of a place where election is being held. Did you ask why you were taken out?
Answer: Yes my Lord, he said I shouldn’t worry.
Question: Who drew up the list (to begin with)?
Answer: Chief Superintendent Akwasi Ofori did it in his office.
Question: It’s a vote of no confidence in you.
Answer: My Lord, I wouldn’t admit that, because this is an operation planned by the region, so when it comes to that, they (senior officers) do it from the regional level.
Question: And you left it like that?
Answer: Yes, I left it in the sense that they are in charge and even my car, they asked me to bring it to Accra region and in our work you can’t challenge authority like that. They are saying that they are handling the whole exercise at the regional level. So you the district officer, you don’t have control. To the extent that they brought an officer to come and supervise these people. That is DSP Mr. Theophilus Essilfie from Korle Bu.
Question: On that day (of elections,) were you suspended from your duty?
Answer: I wasn’t suspended from duty, my Lord.
Question: Then why would anybody bring a different person to do our work?
Answer: My Lord, the regional officer will be the best person to answer this question.
Question: And when you got the call from the regional commander that something has happened, you didn’t ask where Mr. Essilfie was?
Answer: My Lord I didn’t ask, but when I got there I saw him (Mr. Essilfie).
Question: And didn’t Mr. Essilfie report anything to you?
Answer: Yesss… my Lord. Upon my arrival, I saw him in the middle of a group of people and the people were so much agitated to the extent that he was finding it difficult controlling the people. So I went closer to him, greeted him as a colleague and then when I asked him what has happened, he narrated what the regional commander had told me.
Question: At your station?
Answer: No, at the scene.
Question: So you went to the scene because you had a call?
Answer: Yes my Lord.
Question: Is it normal that when they assign an officer at a station, some other officer can shove you off the job and bring someone else and you ask questions and you are being told don’t worry?
Answer: My Lord, I want to go back a bit to the 2016 elections. I was the district officer for Mamprobi. And a day before the election at 5pm, I was asked to see my regional commander. And when I went there, I was told to go to the police depot, that they are bringing three strong officers to come and do my job for me. So it is no news to me my Lord. I was there till the results were declared before they asked me to come. So when this one came, I wasn’t surprised.
Question: Was it the same regional commander?
Answer: No, a different commander, my Lord.
Question: Why would two successive regional commanders not have faith in you that you can do our job?
Answer: My Lord, this one, I cannot tell. Errrmmm, this very one, none of the officers within the division was among the team. So this and the 2016 one, there is a resemblance but they are not the same.
The questions went on back and forth to push DSP Asare to say what he thought about ‘shoving’ him aside, but he provided same answers that, such assignments of assigning an officer to supervise security was done at the regional office.
Question: What about those who have gone to give security; none of them were injured?
Answer: Errrrmmm… two of them, but my difficulty here is that, Errrrmmm… I don’t want to make a mistake by mentioning the wrong name here.
Question:And you said the injuries were minor,
Answer: Yes, a cut. I cannot tell what happened.
Question: And you couldn’t tell how deep it was either?
Answer: It wasn’t deep my Lord. But it has bled enough to stain his cloth. Errrrmmm, I wouldn’t say that the blood stain in the white singlet … they came as a result of that, because according to my investigation, they were all in the car, including those that sustained the gunshots.
Question: So the blood could be that of those who sustained injuries?
Question: Right at the neck of the person who had the cut.
Answer: My Lord I cannot say what resulted in that.
Question: And that’s why you did not think they should be given medical attention?
Answer: Medical attention, it was my intention to do that. When I went to vote, it didn’t take even ten minutes before they were taken away (from my custody).
Commissioner Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong then came in with his questions.
Question: How would you have a slip of tongue when adding his rank to his name, when you are emphasising that your regional commander took out your name from the list (that day)? It is only recently that you were adding his rank and saying that during the 2016 elections, a similar thing occurred, ….
Answer: If I can recall, I added his rank.
Question: I am talking about the first one. So you would agree with me that there could be reasons why every election you are left out?
Answer: My Lord, I have been part of many elections and I can’t use the two cases to generalise it that way.
Question: Have you checked out from your previous commander why he left you out in 2016? Answer: My Lord, I did not do that.
Question: Now you said even though you were left out, when something happened, the same regional commander called you, isn’t it?
Answer: Yes my Lord.
Question: You said you rather brought the situation under control?
Answer: Yes my Lord.
Question: So what did you do exactly to control the crowd?
Answer: When I went there, I realised that if you don’t employ more tactical means of controlling the crowd, it will rather escalate. So I identified three of those I saw as ring leaders and spoke to them. I addressed them. I made them understand that we were not there when it happened. But since there have been casualties or people have been injured, definitely we have to be there to maintain law and order. So they should give us a listening ear, so that whatever assistance they need from us, we will do it after they have calmed down. So what I did was that, the places where people were shot, I made them take me to the place and I videoed it; the blood stains on the ground, I videoed that and there was also gunshot holes on a container opposite the parliamentary candidates house. So I gave them assurance that the perpetrators will be caught. And that they should allow me to video the place and if they have evidence of those who did the act, they should let me know it. They should come to the station then we will look for them and upon hearing that, they started calling their people. Some minutes later some military officers came and my divisional commander and Chief Superintendent Akwasi Ofori came and by that time, tension had already de-escalated.
Question: Next time, when something happens, do the standard thing and forget about whether the injuries were serious or not and immediately send the victims to the hospital to be treated.
Enter Justice Emile Short
Question: DSP Asare, in one of your questions, your evidence says that you were not asked to work at your post that day?
Answer: Yes, my Lord.
Question: However, your regional commander called you that there has been shooting and you are to assist?
Answer: Yes my Lord.
Question: Now, you said that you took videos of the place where the incident happened? You took videos of the scene as well as gunshots of some containers. How many gunshots did you see?
Answer: My Lord I think about four or five.
Question: Was that the only evidence you had?
Answer: My Lord, some of them were holding empty shells.
Question: Did you also investigate who shot those guns?
Answer: Yes I enquired and the answers they gave me were that it was fired by the men, the task force that came to the place. I didn’t meet them at the scene. When I went there, the operational men that came and fired the shots, I didn’t meet them. They had already left.
Justice Emile Short then advised DSP Asare on how he dealt with the injured suspects saying he should be more careful in dealing with injured suspects and dismissed him.