General News of Thursday, 21 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Mixed reactions over arrest of EC officials

There has been mixed reactions from some people in the Tamale metropolis over the arrest of some Electoral Commission officials in the Savelugu/Nanton district at the weekend by the police for their alleged attempt to validate some unsigned pink sheets at Savelugu.

While some regard the entire incident as a storm in a tea cup, others are of the opinion that it is a serious matter that needs to be thoroughly investigated to bring the perpetrators to book.

It was, however, evident from the interviews that those who belonged to the former school of thought were mostly followers of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government while those who held contrary views were sympathisers of the opposition parties, particularly the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

A teacher at Savelugu, Iddrisu Musah said, “there is no big deal about this development because it cannot add or subtract anything from the electoral fortunes of President Mahama.”

“Why, there have never been elections anywhere in the world where you will not record some irregularities or the other because the system is being supervised and regulated by human beings who are not perfect. But the question we must ask is that are such irregularities enough to invalidate the general results of the December polls; for me it is a big No!”

A pastries seller, Azara Fuseini, said she only heard the news on radio yesterday (Monday) morning. And according to her, “I do not think it is a matter that we should spend all our time discussing since the elections are over. For me what should be our concern now is the issue of bread and butter and not about any sheet of paper.”

Abdallah Mohammed, who described himself as unemployed, contended that the police should conduct serious investigations into those allegations and deal with anybody found to be involved in the matter.

“My friends in the NPP should however stop having false hopes that there was electoral fraud in the December elections following which the Savelugu incident could give credence for them to win their impending case at the Supreme Court since President Mahama victory reflects the will of Ghanaians.”

Mariama Issah, a seamstress, however, held a contrary view. She claimed that the Savelugu incident reflected the generality of the fraud and irregularities that occurred during the elections.

“I believe what has happened has occurred at many of the district offices of the Electoral Commission as the officials might have been instructed on doing everything possible to ensure that Nana Addo does not win the petition case in court.”

“It is part of the grand plan by the EC and the NDC to ensure that the NPP does not win their case in court for Nana to be sworn-in as the true winner of the elections but I can assure you that they will surely fail as their nefarious activities are being discovered,” Mashoud Adam, a fuel attendant stated.

“Shame on the EC and the NDC” were the words Ben Codjoe uttered when asked about his opinion on the incident. “For God sake how can a body such as the EC secretly call people to come and sign documents that were used in elections almost two months after the polls?.”

The suspects in the case have since been granted bail by the Tamale police. They are the Deputy Northern Regional Director of the EC, Mr Godfred Oakley, the Savelugu/Nanton district director of the commission, Mr Benjamin Akomanua and a national service person at the Savelugu office of the EC.

According to the Northern Regional Police PRO, Mr Ebenezer Tetteh, the suspects even though were on bail, “they would be reporting periodically to the police to assist in further investigations into the matter.”

He said other suspects connected to the issue would also be invited to help the police in their enquiries.

Mr Akomanua and Salamatu were alleged to have asked some returning officers in the area to sign some fifteen (15) pink sheets that were in their possession at Savelugu last Sunday morning.

They were, however, apprehended by some operatives of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and handed over to the Savelugu police where a group of the party’s supporters later besieged to ascertain the facts of the case.

The suspects were subsequently transferred to the regional police command in Tamale where the deputy director was also picked-up for interrogation.

When queried, Mr Ben, the EC official, claimed knowledge of the exercise and indicated that he also received instructions from his superiors from the EC head office in Accra through the regional directorate to carry out the exercise.

The NPP flag bearer, Nana Akufo Addo and two others are challenging the EC over the outcome of the 2012 elections in the Superior Court.