The Legon District Police Commander, last week Friday, held members of the Emile Short Commission spellbound when he ‘defied’ command structure and laid to bare the role his outfit played in the controversial Ayawaso Wuogon by-election.
“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,” he told the commission without blinking.
With this answer, Mr Eric Osei-Mensah, Counsel to the commission fired back with a probing question: “And is there any reason why that did not happen?”
The frankly-speaking peace officer responded, “My Lord, this question can best be answered by the Regional Commander.”
Question: So, if I get you right, what you are trying to tell the commission, if I’m wrong, correct me. Is 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 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, so I complained,” DSP Asare iterated.
He also said on record that this is the first time he is seeing such a practice after his “23 years of experience in the police service.”
Mr Osei-Mensah then came in: 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.
He continued that on his way, he “had a call around 9:00am 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, closer to the NDC parliamentary candidate’s house. So I should go and assist.
“So 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,” he added.
Question: Did you make any arrest?
Answer: No my Lord.
DSP Asare confirmed that one DSP Samuel Azu, together with his team, made the arrest and the arrested men were brought to his station. He interrogated them, and some said they (the suspects) were brought to the premises of the aspiring Member of Parliament (MP), Delali Kwasi Brempong, by Honorable Oko Vanderpuje to give some food to the polling agents, and “that is why they accompanied him to the place.”
According to him, seven men who were in custody confirmed they were accompanying Honorable Oko Vanderpuje “to the place (polling station) from Abelemkpe. The names of the suspects DSP Asare gave to the commission are as follows: Ahmidu Ahmadu, Samuel Afialor, and James Moore.
The rest are Theophilus Sedofu, Mohammed Latif, Mozamil Munil and Hudu Fuseini. These suspects confessed they came to provide security for their party agents, and that whilst being arrested from the polling station, some of them had minor injuries, which came as a result of the violence that occurred.
DSP Asare, therefore, showed pictures of the suspects to the counsel and promised to provide softcopies of those pictures to the commission today, February 18, 2019.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Madam Jean Mensa, who was interrogated earlier, still maintained her stance that despite the shooting which occurred about 140 metres away from the polling station, the Ayawaso by-election “was a credible and peaceful election.”
She, however, admitted that the lessons learnt from the Ayawaso Wuogon by-election are “to do more public education for people to know and understand the need to do the right thing.”