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Opinions of Monday, 24 October 2016

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Poor policing is the problem, not Bugri Naabu

Mr. Daniel Bugri Naabu Mr. Daniel Bugri Naabu

The granting of an enquiry bail, reportedly, by authorities of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to the Northern Regional Chairman of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Daniel Bugri Naabu, constitutes a devious attempt by a highly politicized top-brass of the GPS not to frontally, fairly and professionally deal with a perennial problem that has become integral to seasonal ballot-rigging in the country at large (See “Police Caution Bugri Naabu; Grant Him Bail to Report Periodically” / 10/22/16).

Mr. Bugri Naabu is accused of making an inflammatory statement to the effect that his party’s top leadership intends to deploy “machomen” to every single polling station in the Northern Region in order to ensure that the ruling National Democratic Congress’ well-known criminal practice of hiring beefy muscled and well-armed thugs to compromise the integrity of periodic general elections is definitively put to a stop.

Now, what most Ghanaians ought to expect from the alleged police enquiry is for the relevant authorities of the GPS to thoroughly investigate and promptly and publicly disclose their findings as to whether Mr. Bugri Naabu was simply stating a matter of fact, or erratically pouring out the jaundiced contents of a paranoid imagination, when the Northern Regional NPP Chairman vehemently decried the perennial practice of ballot-snatching, not only in geographically the largest of the ten regions in the country but the entire nation at large.

This is what the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia presidential campaign ought to pressure all the regional commanders of the Ghana Police Service into thoroughly investigating and promptly devising strategically effective measures for stanching the same. Merely applying the jaded tactics of raw intimidation, the way the GPS authorities clearly appear to be doing, thus far, will not wash.

Mr. Bugri Naabu is reported to have made the statement attributed to him at a party rally in Savelugu. Indeed, what is important and relevant to point out here is the fact that in the wake of the 2012 general election, and the scandalous declaration of victory for then-Interim President John Dramani Mahama by Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the extant Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, the General-Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), had categorically stated that Mr. Mahama had not really clinched a convincing electoral victory. Rather, a palpably embarrassed and profusely apologetic Mr. Asiedu-Nketia noted that it was primarily due to an abject lack of vigilance on the part of New Patriotic Party polling agents and observers that culminated in Akufo-Addo’s defeat.

We are also fully aware of the fact that research findings by a Nigerian scholar and political scientist, reportedly sponsored by a major U.S. foundation, has convincingly established the fact of several of the Supreme Court justices who presided over the 2012 presidential election petition’s having reversed their verdicts several times during the course of the judicial proceedings.

About the only count on which Mr. Bugri Naabu clearly appears to have overstepped the bounds of unfettered free speech, was when the NPP’s Northern Regional Chairman was also alleged to have vowed to have the “head of any NDC supporters” who criminally attempted to snatch ballot boxes from any polling station smashed to bits and pieces.

But even on the preceding count, the onus squarely rests with the authorities of the Ghana Police Service to ensure that Election 2016 is undertaken without any significant cause for complaint. Elections, like all human activities, are not perfect. Even so, there are acceptable levels of electoral imperfection.

And so far, the authorities of the Ghana Police Service and the so-called Independent Electoral Commission have yet to prove that whatever it takes to conduct elections in the country, is smack within the threshold of acceptable imperfection.