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Opinions of Friday, 21 February 2020

Columnist: Gordon Offin-Amaniampong

Bulldozers maul pro-NDC Raymond rcher & Co

Companies were pulled down last Sunday at the Trade Fair Centre Companies were pulled down last Sunday at the Trade Fair Centre

The dust settles not at LA in Accra, says this writer. Unsettling dust still hangs in the air, three days after a demolition exercise hit a prime area in Accra, sparking huge controversy and political debate.

On Monday 17, February 2020, angry bulldozers operated by some nocturnal 'brigades' under the supervision of armed police officers, purportedly okayed by the powers 'from above', before dawn furtively made their way into the premises of Ghana InternationalTrade Fair Centre (GITFC) located at the south-eastern part of the nation's capital.

And they'd leave an unimaginable mess (that's euphemism for destruction) behind,-- raising eyebrows and causing tongues to wag.

It's understood, about 21 businesses that once stood at the venue, put food on kitchen tables and once paid utility bills, medical bills, etc.have now become mere rubbles.

Videos posted online shared on social media platforms revealed, flash or torchlights probing darkness, destruction unveiling its true self, as dust emphasising its presence in the atmosphere.

They also revealed palpable footprints of what appeared to be a powerful tornado that had menacingly ravaged these structures. And property worth millions of dollars had been lost, according to reports.

How much did Archer lose as a result of the demolition? Raymond Archer, journalist cum businessman (pro-NDC activist) one of the affected GTFC's tenants claimed he'd lost more than or about $10 million in the wake of the demolition exercise.

Mr. Archer former editor of the Enquirer Newspaper and owner, Colour Planet Limited said all the equipment at his factory that used to employ 120 employees had been destroyed. He alleged, the men who carried out the operation wouldn't give him time to uninstall his equipment.

GITFC has refuted the claim, saying it gave Raymond time to do so and was able to get all his stuff before the operation kicked off.

Its board chairman has also spoken.

Daniel McKorley Board Chairman, GITFC

has revealed that Mr Archer, the owner of the $10-million printing press was hindering a billion-dollar investment from South Africa.

“Should we stay in a country whereby a 10-million dollar is stalling a billion-dollar because when he's touched politics will be read into it.

“I am a businessman and I am coming from different background; I don’t play politics but I was sent there to build that trade fair," he was speaking at MetroTV's prime time programme:'Good Evening Ghana'.

He said: “We've got many investors and the first thing that flushes at their face is that there is litigation in the Trade Fair. "

Why is GTFC flooded with litigations?

I think if GTFC and other state agencies stop the shadowy practices--selling state lands and property to party cronies, this phenomenon would also stop.

Mr. Mckorley revealed: “We've got the biggest shopping mall in the world from South Africa that has signed on to come in. We've to build the convention Centre capacity bigger than what is in Kigali. Silicon Valley is also going to come here. Just imagine having the convention centre built with international conferences coming on here.”

So, why did they choose to undertake the operation in darkness? Was it to mask their footprints? Couldn't the demolition have been carried out at or during daytime?

If you think you've the right to demolish why do it covertly? It makes it smack fishy.

But regardless of which side one belongs,

one must remember, we all bleed and we're all Ghanaians first.Therefore, this ping-pong politics must stop. Because it would take us nowhere.

What would you do, if you were one of the victims? If you were Archer.. Archer's friend or relative---take the politics aside, you'd be aggrieved. You'd make the same noise and you'd call it a witch-hunt. We always hear this cry. And I bet you'd also not compromise if you were the Landlord.

Must we allow this to grow wings and roots?

Without doubt, politics is mauling us all at a breakneck speed. But it seems we've all been blinded by our biases.

There still are more questions than answers though. And are we prepared to do proper diagnosis? Are we prepared to man-up and rebuke our own when they falter?

Can we call spade a spade and not a tool for ploughing? We might've solutions or answers to all this problems. And we might equally know who perhaps erred.

Problem is, our quirks and idiosyncrasies wouldn't allow us to speak to truth.

First of all, let's establish this. Fact one. Owners of these businesses at GITFC weren't squatters or encroachers. It's also understood authorities at the Fair leased this portion of its property to the tenants.

What were the terms that guided the tenancy occupancy? Did it for instance specify that the tenants could extend their stay and for how long it could do so? Did the Landlord notify its tenants about any changes regarding the terms?

Is it true GTFC served the tenants notice of vacation about its planned redevelopment of the property?

Were the tenants buying out time, against the backdrop that in Ghana nothing works and they could probably hang on till thy kingdom come?

Who are the owners of the other 20 companies? Are they all believed to be pro-NDC members? What about the issue of stay of injunction and the revoke of injunction from the courts? I think these are legitimate questions that we must ask ourselves and analyse them. Let's not jump the gun.

So, whether the style of the execution is right or wrong. Whether the tenants flouted the terms of occupancy or not. Whether the NPP government sanctioned this action or not.

That action by GITFC 's hired brigades appears to contradict its clear motive(s), if indeed there's. In fact, it tends to deepen the claim by critics of the Akufo-Addo administration that the whole exercise was politically-motivated.'

I recall in the early or mid 1990s during Rawlings' time, a certain property that was alleged to have been sited on a waterway near the Polo Heights in the Airport City enclave was torn down neither at dawn nor dusk.

But it was executed in a broad daylight

Meanwhile, in a statement issued by

Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the NDC General Secretary, said the move seems a “bizarre” and “capricious” application of state power by the Akufo-Addo-led government.

“This is clearly an act of cowardice driven by Akufo-Addo’s insatiable desire for vindictiveness and nepotistic totalitarianism,” the NDC said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This demolishing exercise constitutes an act of economic brutality targeted at a hardworking young businessman.”

The statement also ties the demolition exercise to the closure of some financial institutions that took place awhile back.

“We've witnessed the unlawful closure of financial institutions, radio stations, media houses, construction companies and several other local businesses.”

It cited how the four-bedroom house belonging to a former NDC Deputy Volta Region Secretary, Mustafa Gbande, was demolished.

“At this point, we are convinced these various acts of impunity by the Akufo-Addo government constitute an act of provocation against the National Democratic Congress and its entire membership,” the NDC observed.

The party, has therefore, called for immediate halt in such acts before “resistance becomes an inevitable duty of the people”.