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Opinions of Saturday, 9 March 2019

Columnist: manassehazure.com

Mannsseh Azure writes: De-Eye Group Story - Unpacking government’s lies

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah today held a press conference to react to JoyNews investigation, which revealed that De-Eye Group, has been operating at the Christianborg Castle, Osu. The government statement on the matter is full of factual inaccuracies and misrepresentation. Here are some of them

1.

The government has raised issues about the use of the word “militia”. In the documentary, I started with the word “vigilante” up to a point a member of the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission and Criminal Law Lecturer of the University of Ghana, Prof. Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu said they should be called “militia” and their commanders called “war lords.” I used the words “militia” and “vigilante” interchangeably in the documentary.

2.

The government says De-Eye Group is “involved in helping unemployed young men and women find jobs.” This suggests the group is not a vigilante or militia group. But here are some facts:

In August 2018, the Chief of Staff of the Group, Fraser Owireku Kegya was asked by TV3 how different his vigilante group was from the rest. He said, “De-Eye Group is all over the 10 regions of the country and we [have] over 5000 members [increasing] everyday. You understand, and De-Eye Group is made up of youth of this country that believe in the ideas and the policies of Nana Addo Dankwa’s government.”

In June 2012, the Daily Guide newspaper published a story under the headline: “Vigilante Group Vows To Protect Ballot” The report states:

“Formed in 2009, the ‘Eye Vigilante’ group is made up of energetic male and female NPP members across the country whose primary target is to protect the NPP members against any attacks by lawless people”.

The training of the group in the Castle as filmed in the documentary is on military drills. Their motto is “Vigilance and protection.” Our checks with the Interior Ministry shows that De-Eye Group has not been licensed to provide security services. Its website however shows it’s mainly engaged in security activities. Their trainers are retired military officers.



The profile above shows De-Eye Group is not just a company helping the youth to get jobs, as the government wants us to believe. Besides, leaders of the group at various times complained about the involvement of members in criminal activities leading to frequent arrests. At one of their parades, one of the trainers congratulated the group because that weekend, no member of the group was arrested by the police.

3.

The Government also said the office of De-Eye Group was closed in October 2018.

This is a lie. For instance, the Dombo programme was held on the 7th of December 2018. We have raw video of uninterrupted filming of the group from the Castle to the Accra International Conference Centre on December 7, 2018. This programme was on Friday. On Monday December 10, 2018, we filmed Fraser Owuraku Kegya saying that the President asked about the group at the Conference Centre programme.

Our last filming was done on December 21, 2018. It was the last meeting of the group in 2018 and they held a get-together. Before we aired this documentary, the government said no such group has operated from the Castle.



4.

Before we published the story, I made checks and had conversations with top government officials and they said since “Choman” ceased to be an employee of President Akufo-Addo, he had not done anything for the government and had no relationship with the government. The government, in its response, claims he was given an office at the Castle to work with a task force to “retrieve landed properties and vehicles in the possession of erstwhile Mahama administration. After the conclusion of the work of the taskforce in August 2018, he subsequently converted the office allocated to him into a private business for the stated purposes of his company. Admittedly, this should not have been allowed to happen in the first place, but was quickly dealt with in October 2018, when he was evicted from the premises by a joint operation involving personnel of National Security and the Police.”

Even though it’s not true the group was evicted from the Castle in October, it is also strange why it would take a combined team of the police and National Security to evict someone who had been given the office and was using it to help the youth find jobs. Were they evicting a powerful group that deserved the security team? Couldn’t they just have asked the man to hand over the keys?

5.

The government said if we had run basic checks, we would have realised that Nana Wireko Addo is no longer working with President Akufo-Addo. We did not state anywhere in the documentary that he was still being employed by Nana Akufo-Addo. We said he is a former personal bodyguard of President Akufo-Addo. This is a fact.

6.

Before I did this report, I spoke to persons in government and they told me that the Christianborg Castle was still an important edifice of the state, which houses some ministers of state at the office of the president.



Our reporter covering the Commission of Inquiry into the Ayawaso West Wuogon Violence , Joseph Ackah-Blay, tried to do a live report from the Castle. He was stopped by operatives of the National Security from standing in the Castle to file a report. When he wanted to stand in-front of the Castle, they again stopped him. They said it was a security zone. Even if it wasn’t a security zone, it houses some Ministers of State at the Office of the President and some important offices. The Commission on the Creation of the New Regions sat there and the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission sits here.