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Akwatia Re-Run: the Lies, Inconsistencies,Misinformation and Misrepresentation.
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Opinions of Thursday, 20 August 2009

Columnist: Damptey, Daniel Danquah

Akwatia Re-Run: the Lies, Inconsistencies,Misinformation and Misrepresentation.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

James Baldwin in 1932 wrote that “we can manage without butter but not, for example, without guns. If we are attacked, we can only defend ourselves with guns, not butter.

Previous Police unauthorized action at Akwatia. In 1997, some police officers from Accra went to Akwatia Township without authorization. They did not report their presence to the Police Command at Akwatia. They went to houses of some gold and diamond winners, seized their stock and in some cases extorted money from them. Word went round town and the winners regrouped and launched an attack to retrieve their “goods”. In the process one policeman and a diamond winner lost their lives.

Baba Jamal and NDC Government reaction to the people’s attempt to defend themselves Baba Jamal and the NDC brought in the military and the Police who laid siege on Akwatia Township. It was code-named “operation destroy everything movable”. All men and even school boys were not spared. Stores were looted by the rampaging Police men and women. The Town became a ghost town because virtually all the males fled. An in-law who was a sub-chief had to scale the wall of his compound into the bush in his shorts without shirt. He trekked through the bush until he reached another town where he reported his predicament to the chief who gave him a shirt. Two of my brothers had to run out of the town. But one wasn’t that lucky for he fell into the hands of the marauding occupied forces who gave him the beating of his life. He never recovered from such a horrific experience and passed away a few years later.

Those who were caught were beaten up, tortured and sent to Accra where on daily basis, they were made to lie on their backs with their eyes facing the sun and made to sing profane songs. Quite a few did not make it while others got severe eye defects.

Those mostly affected were the Muslims. “Operation destroy everything moveable” commenced at dawn. The police vehicles were placed at the entrance to the mosque so there was no escape route for any of the male worshippers. My heart bleeds and my eyes are always filled with tears anytime I remember that incident. Even as I write I am finding it extremely difficult to keep back my tears for as I have already stated, I lost a brother through the callousness of the Police personnel who took part in the operation.

NDC futile attempts to foist Baba Jamal on the people of Akwatia. Twelve years later, a similar, even worst scenario is being replayed before our very eyes. I had planned to be at Akwatia to show solidarity with Dr. Kofi Asare, the NPP Parliamentary candidate, but calls from friends and a notable NDC activist, a long time family friend advised against my going. Initially, I brushed aside their concerns and like Julius Caesar, vowed to storm the town. But graphic picture painted by the NDC activist put a break to my plans. I saw horrifying pictures of Akwatia under siege on TV3 station on Sunday evening. And as we already know, pictures don’t lie.

The blood of every Ghanaian is very precious. None is not more precious than the other. Very many Ghanaians were massacred in Sierra Leone, but all that we got was a little compensation for only six of the victims and the NDC is taking credit for a process which was initiated by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo under the NPP administration.

The NDC has made political issue of the unfortunate death of Issa Mobila and the Ya Na and some of this followers. Such deaths were regrettable and my sympathies go to their respective families. But as I said, no Ghanaian blood is better and more precious than another. And that is why the Government of the day should do whatever it can within to prevent any such future occurrence.

With nearly one thousand policemen and soldiers at Akwatia, how was it possible for macho men to unleash such violence on NPP supporters? The NPP sympathizers have provided graphic details of the violence that was visited on them and their vehicles. Baba Jamal, his National Chairman and the Deputy Minister of Interior claim the police fired tear gas on them. I am calling on the international community to intervene before the situation degenerates into something else.

TV 3 gives us graphic details of violence at Akwatia. I saw and heard our General Secretary complaining bitterly at the non-challant attitude of Policemen who looked the other way as our men were being molested on Tv3 ON Sunday evening. Let Parliament set up a committee to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the Akwatia violence with a view to taking up stern measure against perpetrators of such action. The TV3 camera captured gory pictures of some youth wielding dangerous weapons like machetes, sticks while others were throwing stones. If the NDC and the Mills administration claim they did not orchestrate the violence, they should, as a matter of fact, identify all those captured on tape and deal with them to act as deterrent to others.

NPP’s under attack by rampaging mob. Now, we of the New Patriotic Party have been pushed to the wall. We have been battered and bruised. There appears to be no escape route. And in line with what James Baldwin said that, if we are attacked, we can only defend ourselves with guns, not butter.

But we are not going to do that, because we are democrats. We believe in Due process. Since the coming to power of the NDC, the NPP as a party has been at the receiving end of everything. Go to Tamale, Gushiegu, Agbogbloshie, BNI Headquarters in Accra, and Akwatia being the latest. In all these places, the story is always the same. Our members are being hunted down and preyed upon like what happened to Piggy and others in “Lord of the Flies”.

Last Thursday when sympathizers and those who believed in democracy went to the Headquarters of the BNI to demand why Asabee was being detailed without charges the Police fired live ammunition into the few crowd gathered. They also fired canisters of tear gas not into the skies but into the crowd. In the process, one of them was alleged to have suffocated to death a few minutes after the demonstration.

The Police seized the body from the family with the excuse of carrying out an autopsy before the body could be released for burial. Which pathologist is going to conduct the autopsy? The Police cannot used their own to do the post mortem. The Police, the Family, the Muslim Community together with the Leadership of AFAG must all be involved in the selection of a pathologist to perform the autopsy. This is in line with standard procedure. Anything short of this is unacceptable and the result will not be fair to all the parties

Ghana Police under Acheampong as against the Police under Mills and the NDC. I make bold to say that the police attitude at the BNI headquarters and Akwatia has revealed the force as unprepared to face any challenges. It is biased in favour of the NDC government and has therefore become an anti people establishment. Even the police under ACP Akrofi and his “C h a a a r r g e” order was hundred times better than what we are seeing today. It can be compared to the police establishment under the late I.K. Acheampong’s regime. In one instance, they were invited to quell a demonstration at University of Ghana, Legon but they ended up inserting their truncheons into the private parts of some female students. Yes this is how low we have degenerated into.

A careful analysis of last Sunday’s face off between NPP and NDC supporters. There a saying that it takes two to tangle. Jesus also admonishes us to turn the other cheeks when we are slapped. At the same time, Christ Himself was not averse to using the whip when the occasion warranted it. How long do our tormentors-in-chief expect us to bear the brunt of other people’s atrocities?

Dr Kwasi Appiah Kubi, Deputy Interior Minister, Dr Kwabena Adjei, NDC National Chairman, Ofosu Ampofo, Eastern Regional Minister and the rest of the NDC top hierarchy must be held responsible for what happened at Akwatia on Sunday and Tuesday, It was the mounting of barricades on the road close to the NDC office and adjacent to Baba Jamal’s house that precipitated the face off between supporters of the two political parties.

Notable Ministers in the Mills administration were present at the scene of the gory incidents. An order from either the Deputy Interior Minister of the Deputy Regional Minister to clear the road block would have prevented unnecessary tension in the town. If the supporters would not do it, it would not have taken the security operatives more than two minutes to do the job. What were they waiting for? Just go and see how AMA officials, aided by a few police personnel whip helpless street hawkers whose only offence is attempting to eke a living for themselves into submission. But these men failed to write their names in gold at the moment Ghanaians expected them to be above partisan politics by taking stern action to prevent the shedding of innocent Ghanaian blood. It is either they gave tacit support to the breakers of our laws or lack the moral courage to take stern action against their rampaging supporters. By failing to act at the time helpless and innocent victims of unprovoked attacks by a group of barbarians were looking up to them with tears in their eyes, they have behaved like the Mad Emperor Nero who was said to be playing the violin while Rome was on fire.

Orgy of violence at Akwatia and the killing of the Yah Na in Dagbon. When the Ya Nah was killed, some people were arrested and prosecuted but freed for lack/want of evidence. ( which the NDC claimed was wrong charges preferred against the accused). The Dagbon issue started on a smaller case like the Akwatia’s own. How many of such perpetrators have been arrested at Akwatia? There is enough evidence that one, Yaw Darkwa, an ex-convict and founder of the so-called Church of SATAN was seen firing a pistol on the streets of Akwatia. Is the pistol licensed and why is he walking the streets of Akwatia? TV3 gave us gory pictures of people throwing stones and others using sticks on their fellow human beings. These are citizens of Akwatia and their identities are well known. Let the security agents do their job by arresting anyone implicated in the mayhem, be that person a supporter of the NPP or the NDC. We have to send a stern warning to perpetrators of such heinous acts that decent Ghanaians abhor such animalistic behaviour.

Dr Kwasi Appiah Kubi’s unguarded statement. The Deputy Minister of Interior’s statement that Government would hunt down and dismiss the policemen who acted against the NDC is the last thing one would expect from a person holding such a position. True to his threat those policemen who escorted the injured Nana Ohene Ntow and his colleagues to safety at Akwatia St Dominic Hospital were immediately recalled by the powers that be. One cannot predict the fate that awaits such gallant men and women of the Ghana Police. The portfolio of Deputy Minister of Interior is a very sensitive one and one expects its occupant to be matured and circumspect both in speech and action. He must remember that power is transient and that what goes up must surely come down.

Baba Jamal, Kwasi Appiah Kubi and Kwabena Adjei’s accusation against the Police. They accuse the police of firing indiscriminately into Baba Jamal’s house. They alleged a six months old baby was sleeping in the room while the police were firing canisters of tear gas into the room. I listened to the woman as she gave a detailed account of what actually transpired on the day in question. The woman, Sordia claims her six months old baby, Sulemana was sleeping in the room. Fortunately, there was water in the room and so he used it on the child. When a way was made for her to escape from the house, someone took the baby from her to go and sprinkle water on him. When asked if she had taken the child to the hospital, she answered in the negative. When pressed as to why she had not done so, she stated that she did not have money to do so. When she made that statement, something struck me that something wasn’t right.

Adakabre, the host of the programme told her to send the baby to the hospital and tell one Sisi Broni (although she is dark in complexion) to treat the child and sent the bill to Hot Radio. If the incident did really happen as narrated by the NDC top men, then it was unfortunate. But I do not think it was a deliberate ploy by the policemen to fire canisters of tear gas into Baba Jamal’s house. The rampaging NDC members had made the road impassable and Ohene Ntow and other people’s lives were in danger and needed to be taken to the hospital. The only way such a thing could be done was to force their way through the illegal barrier or checkpoint. And that was exactly what happened. As I said, the life of every Ghanaian is precious to all of us. And so my concern goes to Sordia for what befell her six month old baby.

But doesn’t it sound funny that that Sordia, the 20 year old mother would complain of not having money to send her child to the hospital, a day after the incident? Is she telling us that after the child had inhaled some toxic fumes into his system, she is leaving the child to suffer on account of not having money? What sort of mother is she? Is she also telling us that nobody including members of her family has the money to assist her pay the baby’s hospital bills? How much is the amount involved? What about Baba Jamal, the one on whose account her baby had come to harm? Since the baby was sleeping in the house, there might be some family links with Baba Jamal. What has he done about it till date? What about Kwabena Adjei and Kwasi Appiah Kubi? Couldn’t they have used their ministerial influence and ask the hospital authorities to treat the child? The Akwatiahene, Osabarima Kofi Boateng 11 could even have offset the bill if the child had been sent to the hospital and the mother couldn’t pay the bill.

Is she trying to create the impression that such prominent personalities in the NDC are so callous that they cannot live by the tenets of the “I Care” slogan which they have been trumpeting into the highest heavens? If that was exactly what happened then there is no justifiable reason to follow a party which does not care for its own. I shudder to think that the allegation might just be a ruse to ……

Dr. Omane Boamah’s Comments. I was saddened and shocked when I heard such an unfortunate comments from Dr Omane Boamah the next day on television alleging that the incidents about attacks visited on NPP members never happened, and if indeed they happened at all, they were grossly exaggerated. He made reference to other attacks on NDC members and stated it was rather the NPP that started the violence. He said NPP Primaries at Suhum, Bekwai and other places were marred by violence and that the UP tradition was a violent one.

I was really devastated to hear such a callous comment coming from a Minister of State and also a medical doctor, whose first duty, by the nature of his calling, is to save life. We expect people holding such sensitive positions in government to be cautious of their remarks or comments. Was Nana Ohene Ntow faking his injuries? Was he and others not harassesed or intimidated by unruly and marauding NDC thugs? Were NPP cars not destroyed? In fact, I had regarded Dr Omane Boamah as one of the moderates and objective voice of conscience in the NDC but after listening to him on Television on Monday morning I had to revise my opinion about him

Denial of “General” Dan Kwaku Botwe’s Constitutional Rights.

Dan Botwe was the official accredited NPP agent at the Akwatia Presby Primary Polling Station. But some unruly and uncouth NDC agents behaving like animals decided he was not welcome there and insisted that he be removed. Security personnel present aided in physically removing him from the centre. The personnel were there to maintain law and order, not to kowtow to the whims and caprices of the powers that be. This reminds me of a similar incident in “Things Fall Apart” where Ikemufuna, a lad was sent to Umuofia as appeasement to prevent war between the two communities.. The boy was sent to stay with the Okonkwos The oracle at Umuofia decided that Ikemufuna should be sacrificed to the gods to avert a calamity on the people. They took the boy on a lonely path. One of the men struck him and when Ikemufuna turned to Okonkwo and said, “Father, they have killed me oo”, Okonkwo administered the coup de grace by dealing him a deadly blow. This is also similar to what Brutus did to his friend, Julius Caesar when he joined the conspiracy and was the last to stab him.

The Security personnel were there to ensure that nothing untoward happened. They were not to take sides. But there were the ones who physically ensured the removal of Dan Botwe from the scene with the excuse that, “my friend, the people say they don’t want you here. Go away!’ What could poor Dan do? Nothing! They were filled with venom and ready to vent it on poor Dan and other members of the NPP present. They were in no mood for compromise since they were hiding behind the “shoot on sight” order to deal with Dan. And so, Honourable Daniel Kwaku Botwe, a member of Ghana’s Law Making Body had to be manhandled and physically hurled from the scene of voting

And that very moment, Democracy died in Ghana!

If, more than Fifty Two years after attainment of our independence, such an ignoble act and a constitutional coup could be staged against mother Ghana, the country we all cherish and claim to love, then I suggest the white man should come back and colonize the country the second time. We have not enjoyed and imbibed the tenets and gains of democracy.

I recommend that all electoral officials at the polling station and the security personnel present be sanctioned for aiding an abetting in a constitutional coup against the state. Should nothing be done about this, we should expect worse things to happen during the General Election in 2012. Others will ensure that it is only citizens within a an electoral area that will be allowed to become accredited party agents. Others will physically ensure that this new code is strictly adhered to and that security agents can only prevent this by physically eliminating some of us. Electoral Malpractices.

It was shocking to learn that some prospective voters could not exercise their franchise because by the time it got to their turn, they found out that other people has already used their particulars to votes and their names had been ticked as having voted. In other words, some form of impersonation had taken place.

Listening to two of the victim, I felt pity not only for them, but the entire country. Whilst one took a philosophical view of the issue and decided to leave everything in the court of Almighty God, the other wasn’t ready to let go of the injustice done him. He complained of having travelled a long distance, only to be denied the opportunity of exercising his franchise. He said he would, like Ohene Agyekum, NDC Ashanti Regional Chairman and Ghana Ambassador to God’s own country (USA) buy a bottle of Schnapps and some eggs to invoke the spirits of his ancestors against the impersonator.

Why were the security men sent there for? Just to bully or intimidate the people? What was the duty of party agents and the electoral officers/ Did they perform their assigned tasks creditably? The solution is simple. Arrest and persecute all electoral officers, security operatives and party agents present at the pooling stations where such anomalies took place.

Conclusion.

Now, the battle has been fought and won, but the bruises are still with us. Is Akwatia Township going to be the same again? Was it necessary to have subjected the people of Akwatia whom Baba Jamal claims to love and wanted to represent in Parliament to such brutalities and unwanted destruction of life and property on such an unprecedented scale? What about the curfew? Was it necessary and when is it going to be lifted? Was the call for a jihad, which to the ordinary person on the street meant holy war and which the NDC attempted to practicalise on the people of Akwatia necessary? And are they saying the Islam is the bona fide religion of NDC alone?

Does Baba Jamal really and indeed love the people of Akwatia? If indeed, he does, then he has to go on his knees and ask the people for forgiveness for subjecting the peace loving people to such a horrific experience. He attempted to put a wedge among the people and destroy the one thing which held the people together by bringing about an occupational force to terrorize, intimidate and silence the people as they did in 1997.

Can Baba, as a true Muslim look up to Almighty Allah and say, “Allah, I have done thy will”? And what is the will of Allah in this shedding of unnecessary and innocent blood? The blood and anguish of pain of helpless victims of Baba Jamal and the NDC’s atrocities cry for justice. And are they going to get it under Mills’ Administration?

Well, time will tell. But always remember that our God Father is not dead, but alive. I shall return.

Meanwhile, congratulations to the soft spoken and caring Member of Parliament-Elect, Dr. Kofi Asare and all those dedicated, brave and patriotic Ghanaians who refused to bulge in the face of intimidation and extreme provocation but stood their grounds against the use of State Organs to co-erce, silence or gag them. Ghanaians salute your courage!

Daniel Danquah Damptey

E-mail address – danieldanquah_damptey@yahoo.com

Telephone no: - 0243715297

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