The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described the voter registration exercise organised by the Electoral Commission ahead of the December 7 polls as “violence-ridden”.
According to the NDC, the violence witnessed during the exercise across the country is a testimony of the governing New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) “grand scheme to apply violence and other undemocratic intimidation tactics to rig and perpetuate itself in power against the will of the people.”
Citing a number of violent incidences which it accused the NPP of perpetrating, the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia speaking at a press conference in Accra on Thursday, 3 September 2020 also accused the NPP of registering 66 Ivorians in Banda and want their names expelled from the voter’s register.
“The NDC will like to appeal to all peace-loving Ghanaians to join the fight for justice for innocent Silas Wulo Chameh who was brutally murdered by the NPP hoodlums and impress upon the President and the EC to walk their talk by ridding the new voter register of the 66 Ivorians who were surreptitiously brought in by the NPP Parliamentary Candidate in Banda to register and punish severely all the perpetrators involved,” Mr Nketia said at the presser.
Read below the full statement read by Mr Nketia
PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON JOHNSON ASIEDU NKETIAH ON THE VIOLENT CONDUCT OF THE 2020 MASS VOTER REGISTRATION EXERCISE PARTICULARLY THE BRUTAL ATTACKS ON EWES AND INNOCENT CITIZENS IN BANDA DURING THE EXERCISE.
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, you are welcome to the headquarters of the National Democratic Congress for this all-important engagement. We are grateful for the importance you attach to our invitations and the alacrity with which you report of our conversation.
You have been invited to discuss a few pertinent issues arising from the just-ended mass voter registration exercise.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, the just-ended voter registration will go down in history as by far the most violent voter registration exercise ever conducted in the 4th Republic of Ghana. This simple exercise of compiling a voter role witnessed at least two (2) cases of murder, including that of a young teacher at Banda and the other at Nkrakwanta in the Dormaa West Constituency all in the Bono Region.
The Exercise witnessed several incidences of brutalities including gunshot injuries, near-fatal attacks on at least 2 sitting Members of Parliament (Hon. Alhaji Bawa of Ejura Sekyere Odumase Constituency and Hon. Alhaji Collins Dauda of Asutifi South Constituency) and physical molestation of innocent citizens in a manner that has never been seen before in Ghana. There were also widespread reports of open display of weapons and open shots of live ammunition by highly placed government officials such as Minister for Special Developments, Mavis Hawa Koomsons and Hon Joe Danquah, NPP Parliamentary Candidate for Banda.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, there were also widely reported incidence of brutalities on opposition party agents in the Tano South Constituency and surrounding areas by NPP Vigilantes under the direct instruction of the Deputy Regional Minister of the Ahafo Region, Hon. Yeboah Sekyere Benjamin. The Central Region was no exception of the NPP’s cocktail of violence perpetrated during the registration exercise. In Ejumako Enyan Essiam amidst several brutalities of innocent citizens and sporadic gunshots, some NPP hoodlums were arrested with a pile of weapons.
These violence-ridden registration exercise coming on the heels of an equally violent by-Elections at Ayawaso West Wuogon, is further testimony of the NPP Government’s grand scheme to apply violence and other undemocratic intimidation tactics to rig and perpetuate itself in power against the will of the people.
A further confirmation of this grand agenda is contained in an NPP leaked audio capturing the voice of the Deputy Regional Minister of the Bono East Region addressing a session of the NPP Invisible forces and Delta forces at a meeting held deep in the night at a secret location immediately before their deployment to cause mayhem in most parts of the Country during the registration exercise.
In this leaked audiotape, the Deputy Regional Minister Hon. Oti Gyaaka popularly known as “Homeboy” was caught giving explicit instructions to the NPP Vigilante to among other things maim and commit murder where necessary with the promise of state protection and reward instead of prosecution.
Again on the leaked tape, the minister claimed that the media and all the state institution such as EC, the Judiciary and security agencies are fully behind the NPP in prosecuting this diabolic agenda and that it has been agreed that immediately any crime is committed by them, the NPP will rush to the press feigning to be victims and accuse the NDC of all such crimes.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, at this point, permit me to focus on the specific case of atrocities in the Banda Constituency, since the NPP has peddled a plethora of lies and misinformation about my involvement in the Banda incidences as a person. I have therefore decided to dedicate the rest of this presser to address and expose the deliberate concocted lies of the NPP in relation to happenings in Banda before, during and after the registration exercise.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you will recall that on 18th April 2020, a group of NPP Vigilantes clothed in Military uniform led by one Prince Debrah under the instruction of Hon. Joe Danquah, the NPP Parliamentary Candidate of Banda attacked and burnt homes of fishing communities along the Bui lake fish landing site, under the guise of a redevelopment programme by the Bui power authority at the site.
The reportage of this incidence caused a national uproar, leading to the intervention of the Volta Caucus of the Minority in Parliament to visit the crime scene to commiserate with the victims.
This visit and the reaction of the Banda youth against the Bui Power Authority led to the suspension of the demolishing exercise, the repairing of homes in affected areas and the rendering of unqualified apology by the Bui Power Authority to the people of Banda.
Subsequent to this peaceful settlement, the former Banda Constituency Organizer of the NPP who is a leading member of the NPP Vigilantes toured the remaining Villages in the company of one Okyeame Boakye who doubles as a member of the NPP vigilante and the Okyeame of Bongase and threatened the inhabitants, mostly Voltarians and Ada fisher folks, and caused Public announcements to be made to warn all non-indigenes of Banda to refrain from registering in the upcoming registration exercise threatening that whoever tries to register does so at the peril of their own lives.
The Banda Traditional Council which over the years has recognized these settler communities and given them representation on the Council summoned the NPP’s Alhaji Soldier to the Palace for questioning. During the interrogation, he admitted before a meeting of Banda Traditional Council to have issued that threat but indicated that he was acting under the instruction of his party leaders, both in Bono Region and in Accra, and not in the name of the Banda Traditional Council.
At this point let me share with you the instructions given by Joe Danquah, the NPP Parliamentary Candidate for Banda to this Party followers and his vigilante Team on his official Whatsapp platform dubbed Joe Danquah 2020 platform.
Ladies and Gentlemen, two weeks to the registration exercise a combined Team of National Security personnel otherwise known as Azugu Boys, were camped at a Guesthouse in Bongase from where they conducted raids at the settler communities and to fire gunshots to warn them about the NPP’s intention to execute the threats issued by Alhaji Soldier.
After a week, a team of Military men from the 3rd Battalion of infantry Sunyani joined the vigilantes at the same Guest House and continued the harassment and intimidation of the fisher folks.
At the commencement of the registration exercise, this group escalated their activities around the landing beach site, using gunshots to threaten the fisher folks from approaching their registration centres in Bongase and other places. The district police command in Banda dispatched a team to arrest two of the perpetrators namely Siaka Salley and Gadafi who were detained at the Banda District Police Headquarters and released minutes later, following what the police claim to be orders from above. They immediately returned to the landing beach and continued the attacks.
On the 11th of July, when the registration was still ongoing, a group of vigilante boys under the command of one Mr Afrane, the younger brother of Joe Danquah, the NPP Parliamentary Candidate in an NPP campaign Vehicle were apprehended by the Police and searched. Several sophisticated weapons and ammunition were retrieved from the vehicle near a registration centre at Banda Nyire. Minutes after their arrest they were set free also under the guise of order from above. This then sparked jubilation on the part of NPP at that registration centre with the claim that because they are in power, they could do anything and get away with it, including murder.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this same group of hoodlums led by Joe Danquah himself in bulletproof jacket, invaded the residence of the NDC MP for Banda, Hon Ahmed Ibrahim in Banda Ahenkro and attacked his brother Moro Ibrahim leaving him with life-threatening head injuries on 13th July 2020.
Seeing that the police were helpless in addressing these violent attacks and are unable to protect the people, the youth of Banda mobilized and burnt down a BMW vehicle being used by this NPP vigilante group in their operations at Banda Ahenkro.
The NPP vigilantes in reaction to this action by the youth, mounted a barrier at Kabronno, a stronghold of the NPP and started searching all passenger vehicles coming through Banda from Wenchi for inhabitants of Banda Ahenkro. On one such passenger vehicle was a freshly trained teacher who was returning from Wenchi upon a visit to his pastor at Wenchi Methodist Diocese. Unaware of the happenings in the district he was innocently identified and stabbed in cold blood in the full glare of eyewitnesses, by a person identified to be one of the boys arrested and released at the instance of the Regional Police Commander in the Banda Nyire incident.
After the murder incident, The Banda Traditional council wrote to the Bono Regional Minister and Regional Security Council as well as the EC to express their disquiet about the deliberate orchestrations of the NPP government to prevent the settler communities mostly the Voltarian fisher folks from registering, a group that has coexisted with the people of Banda for so many years, have participated in all elections over the years and have installed Ewe chief at the Banda Traditional Council.
The Regional Minister conveyed a REGSEC meeting and invited the two main political parties to address the issues and a communique was signed at the end of the meeting, conveying the agreement of all political parties to abide by the rules governing the registration process. Specifically, the communique stated Inter-alia that;
1. Parties should stop physically preventing people from registration and resort to the challenge process if they suspected any registrant to be ineligible.
2. Parties should stop the practice of busing registrants who are non-residents of the constituency to register.
3. Party leaders must communicate widely the content of the communique to their followers to ensure peace during the rest of the registration period.
4. The police promised to arrest and deal with the perpetrators of the murder and other infractions to demonstrate that nobody is above the law.
Upon the return of the two candidates to the constituency, whiles Hon. Ahmed organized all his followers, chiefs and Assembly members to brief them on the communique and urged them to abide by the terms of the communique, Mr Joe Danquah chose to circulate the following information to his supporter through social media.
As expected, the NPP vigilantes embedded in the military detachment continued the intimidation unabated.
Upon receiving all these reports, I paid a working visit to the Banda constituency as part of my nationwide monitoring tour as the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress. Upon entering the district, my first point of call was the Banda Traditional council, where I was handed a copy of their petition to the Regional Minister and the other relevant bodies.
They also recounted an encounter by Nana Osiakwanhene of Banda Traditional Area, Nana Bankwade with military men in front of his house close to a registration centre.
From the Omanhene's palace, I proceeded to the Bongase Palace where the same stories of intimidation were confirmed. I then decided to engage all the heads of the security agencies deployed in the Banda Area. Each of the security agencies flatly denied all the stories of intimidation in the presence of TV cameras. I then proceeded to the landing site where the shooting and intimidation had allegedly been taking place.
I met a gathering of about 2000 inhabitants who claimed they have been prevented from accessing the registration centres at Bongase Akanyakrom and Banda Ahenkro. I assured them of their rights as citizens who have resided in Banda for over 5 years to register and vote.
I further encouraged them to move to the registration centre to register to enable us to determine who was telling the truth and who was lying.
After that, we decided to move back to the commander at Akanyakrom to brief him of the information we had received which was contrary to his earlier claims.
On our way to Akanyakrom we received a distress call from one of the Ewe Community leaders calling us to come and see for ourselves, a roadblock that had been mounted by the soldiers between the landing site and Bongase.
We quickly rushed back to the scene, and lo and behold we saw KIA Trucks, Tricycles and pick-ups loaded with Fisher folks who were being ordered by the military to get down and go back to their Villages because they were Togolese.
I got down from my vehicle and in the company of the MP for Banda accosted the armed military men to find out what was happening. When they confirmed that they were under strict instructions to block the fishermen from having access to the registration centres because they were Togolese, I decided to call the military commander to also come and witness what his boys were doing.
The Commander upon his arrival appeared embarrassed but helpless. After we insisted he did the right thing by clearing the illegal roadblock. He eventually conceded and ordered the complete removal of the roadblock to allow the vehicles to move on after which I left the constituency.
The final day of registration on 6th August 2020 a KIA truck with an Ivorian registration number plate entered the district with 66 occupants and drove straight to Kabrono registration centre. The occupants disembarked and attempted to register. The MP for Banda, Hon Ahmed was alerted and he lodged an official complaint to the Ghana Police Service and Immigration Service wondering how these Ivorians had managed to enter the country when borders were supposed to have been closed. The District Police commander advised that the NDC agents comply with the law by challenging the Ivorians, but added that they did not have the capacity to impound the foreign vehicle and its occupants. Forty-seven (47) of them were identified and challenged by the NDC party agent
Unfortunately, the EC official under pressure from the NPP and security commanders present at the scene decided to disobey their own rules concerning the challenge process and release the completed voter ID cards to the person challenged making their subsequent appearance at review committee unnecessary.
Fearing that they could be attacked by the youth outside the NPP stronghold, the vehicle was parked at Kabrono overnight and the occupants passed the night.
At the dawn of the following day, the vehicle then under the cover of darkness left with its occupant’s toward Ivory Coast. Following a tip-off, the NDC youth in Dorbor an NDC stronghold close to the border with the assistance of Comrades from Sampa, intercepted the foreign-registered vehicle by physically blocking the road leading to cote’D’viore. At this point, the NDC invited the media to the scene and made it impossible for the immigration officials not to act.
The media captured some of the Ivorians with their carte d'identité and the voter ID cards and they confessed having been brought in by one Yao to register and get a payment of 300ghc each.
Whiles at it, the NPP in the line with their strategy as captured in the Deputy Minister’s audio rushed to the media to allege that the Ivorians have been brought in by my good self. Followed by another press conference by my colleague General Secretary of NPP, John Boadu confirming the lies that have been told by his Regional Chairman
The EC quickly came out to promise to open an investigation into the matter, apparently acting in a wrong belief that Asiedu Nketiah may have been trapped at last. They promised to investigate and publish their findings while punishing anybody involved in the wrongdoing. We are still waiting for their report.
Ladies and Gentlemen, after my initial rebuttals at joy FM, I decided to stay put investing my hopes in the EC to conduct the said thorough investigation and for the Ghana Police Service and the Immigration Service to do the right thing by dealing with the culprits according to law.
After waiting 27 clear days for action on this urgent matter, very little or no action appears to have taken by way of serving the course of justice. Rather, what we have witnessed is a desperate attempt to cover up the perpetrators of the heinous crimes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, two incidents that have occurred recently, leading to my heightened suspicion that, whatever crimes that had been committed during the registration exercise countrywide and in particular Banda had happened with President Akufo Addo’s complicity.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, it is instructive to note that after the arrest of the Ivorians at Dorbor they were quickly processed at the Sunyani Circuit court and were quickly granted bail at the instance of the NPP Regional Women Organiser, Madam, Ama Amponsah and the case was subsequently adjourned indefinitely.
The second is the president's attempt to embark on a campaign of misinformation to cover up these misdeeds. His Excellency has made several statements to commend the peaceful nature of the registration exercise without mentioning a single act of violence during the exercise, including that perpetrated by his own appointees.
On his recent tour of the Volta Region, instead of using the opportunity to apologize for his unwarranted ethnic discrimination against the Voltarians, he claimed ignorance of all the bad things enumerated above and stated rather shamelessly that he has no evil agenda against them Voltarians. This is the 21st Century Ghana under Nana Addo..!!!!
Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, the NDC will like to appeal to all peace-loving Ghanaians to join the fight for justice for innocent Silas Wulo Chameh who was brutally murdered by the NPP hoodlums and impress upon the President and the EC to walk their talk by ridding the new voter register of the 66 Ivorians who were surreptitiously brought in by the NPP Parliamentary Candidate in Banda to register and punish severely all the perpetrators involved.
Let me use this opportunity to invite the International Community to impress upon Nana Akuffo Addo’s Government and the relevant state institutions mentioned in the leaked tape to take immediate steps to abandon any grand agenda of collusion with the NPP to perpetrate violence, intimidation and injustice on the people of this country whose only offence is to insist on their right of self-determination and choose the path of peace, justice and fairness to help sustain our young fragile democracy which appears to be under threat from the Akufo Addo-Bawumia government.
May God bless our Homeland Ghana.