Feature Article of Friday, 20 April 2012
Columnist: Nyalemegbe, Yaw Mensah
Akwatia is a diamond producing town in the Eastern Region of Ghana. but not only for diamonds, is this little town which is tucked away between the mountain ranges, popular for these days, but also for the alleged declaration of a holy war (jihad), by a former deputy minister and NDC parliamentary candidate for the area, Baba Jamal.
The Akwatia election had been characterised by violence and disturbances, which necessitated a re-run of the polls. It was during this re-run that Baba Jamal was alleged to have made his call for the jihad.
First let’s have a deeper look at the meaning of the word jihad.
The Microsoft Encarta dictionary provides the following definitions for the term
1. Islamic campaign against nonbelievers: a campaign waged by Muslims in defence of the Islamic faith against people, organizations, or countries regarded as hostile to Islam
2. relentless campaign: a relentless campaign against somebody or something
In this case, I think the second definition would better serve our purposes.
Let us examine exactly what the gentleman said. In one publication, he is said to have called on the Muslim community “to see the re-run of polls in six polling stations to be seen as a Jihad and therefore all should endeavour to join”.
Since Baba Jamal was at the time an NDC parliamentary candidate, it is safe to assume that the Muslim community within that area was generally seen as a safe bet for the NDC, hence his appeal to them.
So what exactly was he appealing to them to do?...
Engage in an all out war of violence against their opponents?
Or to use all possible means which are not violent to win the election?
In the same publication from which I gleaned the earlier point, Baba Jamal is again said to have “conceded that he told the Muslim community about waging a Jihad but not in a violent form, promising to maintain peace”.
But is that what really happened?
The election re-run was eventually characterised by violent confrontations between agents and supporters of both the NDC and NPP.
Maybe calls for Baba Jamal to be investigated by the security agencies for his comments (which may or may not have had foundation in the eruption of the violence) are in order?
That may be debateable, but one thing is clear, the tone of Jamal’s declaration was definitely an overkill...and should have merited at least an invite from the police.
Another disturbing incident linked to elections ,which has yet again threatened to brew trouble is the alleged ‘seizing antics’ of the NDC parliamentary candidate for the Ododiodiodoo constituency, Nii Lantey Vanderpuije; where he is alleged to have gone round seizing ID cards of voters who had registered in the area, but did not have Ga-sounding names. And then further preventing those who were yet to have registered from doing so. If true, this would be a rather absurd and frankly quite ridiculous course of action, since there are other means and mechanisms to challenge any one whom one may suspect to not be from the area.
I would have to say this is yet another overkill and definitely needs a look in by the police...
Perceiving these actions as a deliberately attempt to prevent NPP supporters from registering to vote, firebrand NPP parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma South, Ursula Owusu, and Abu Jinapor, an aide to Nana Akufo-Addo (NPP presidential candidate), descended on the area ostensibly to “encourage our supporters to go and register”...And in their own words, “Whiles we were there a group of macho men came in there and began to assault us”.
Again, if indeed true, this is very unfortunate and measures should be put in place to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to book immediately.
But what is most worrying is the allegation that “there were 20 police officers who were just looking on without any intervention”. Jinapor said so...Ghana police is that true?
Well in any case, the action of these macho men is on overkill...
Now in what surely must be the biggest overkill of all, NPP member of parliament for
Assin North, Kennedy Agyapong, in a supposed reaction to these events made some very unsavoury comments, which to a large extent have been condemned in no uncertain terms throughout the country. However, and rather sadly so, there are some who hold the opinion that he was just responding to these recent events and that his comments may have been taken out of context.
So now we will look at his comments and then decide for ourselves.
This is what he is said to have said...or in fact, did say (live on air)
“If you are an Ashanti or Akan and somebody enters your shop, use whatever weapon you have to hit that fellow.
We would beat all gas and ewes in the Ashanti region if this is how they want us to go. Again, I declare war in this country and Gbevlo Lartey (National Security Coordinator) should come and arrest me. We would club any intruder who intends fomenting trouble with a machete and butcher them”
I’m sure you would all agree with me that this is to a large extent very irresponsible talk, but I will try to put some context on it, and let’s see where that takes us...
Looking at the first paragraph, the gentleman is obviously talking about self defence, (perhaps in reference to the Ursula Owusu incident) which is a natural law and probably in order, but couldn’t he have made that point without bringing in the ethnic twist? Why doesn’t he ask all persons to defend themselves? Why only those specific groups?
Or was it because of the antics of Nii Lantey? Even if so, did Nii Lantey actually visit any violence on a particular ethnic group to necessitate such a call?
Mr Agyapong Sir, Overkill man!
The second part to me, is where the whole trouble actually begins...let’s take a closer look at it...
We would beat all Gas and Ewes in the Ashanti region if this is how they want us to go. Again, I declare war in this country and Gbevlo Lartey (National Security Coordinator) should come and arrest me...
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Mr Agyapong sounds very much to have singled out a particular group or groups of people here; Ewes and Gas. You may say all you want about retaliatory speech and speaking in context, but sorry, there cannot be any contextual analysis when it comes to matters surrounding ethnocentrism. From the moment he chose to descend into ethnically laced slurs, he lost any reasonable defence for his statements.
Mr Agyapong Sir that is one massive overkill....
Personally, I would have been ready to ignore the declaration of war. That maybe, could stand the test of contextual analysis...but he shoots himself further in the foot by challenging the law enforcement agencies to arrest him...and rightly they did...
Talking of overkills, the charges preferred on him...might just smack of this, especially the treason charge, which in my opinion cannot be upheld in court...but for the ethnocentric remarks he has made, I hear a charge of attempted genocide has also been laid...that might be a more sustainable charge...
We wait to see