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Opinions of Sunday, 22 April 2012

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Treason in a season of low reason

By George Sydney Abugri

Tempers are wired to short fuses everywhere, Jomo. Fists, stones, bullets and angry words are flying about all over the place. The whole commotion is a result no doubt, of already seething partisan political animosities and the psychological pressure of the fierce contest to maintain or wrest political authority. And to think it is all happening eight clear months before the first voter has cast a ballot!

Here is the crazy news reel from the biometric registration of voters in progress and the from the rowdy informal campaign trail: New Patriotic Party parliamentary candidate Ms Ursula Owusu and Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor an aide of NPP Presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo are set upon and beaten up at a registration center in Accra, stirring anger in the NPP and drawing veiled and open threats of reprisals.

Nii Armah Ashitey who until recently was the political authority in charge of the Greater Accra Region, is allegedly roughed up at a voters registration center by armed policemen and subsequently detained on the orders of Greater Accra Regional Police Commander ACOP Angwubutuge Awuni.

Mr. Yaw Buabeng Asamoa the NPP’s Deputy Director of Communications is arrested and detained by the CID overnight for allegedly inciting NPP supporters to riotous acts outside the offices of the Bureau of National Investigations, Police Headquarters and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, all designated security installations.

A Deputy Minster of state and a political commentator get quite worked up in a radio studio over the meanings and import of words and phrases and their implications for the integrity of the two gentlemen and that of their respective political persuasions and guess what, buddy? One comes close to losing half a jaw to the fist of the other.

Now, the grandmother of them all, Jomo: The NPP Member of Parliament for Assin North, the Hon. Kennedy Agyapong manages to get himself arrested and tossed about a bit, not too unlike a doll, between determined police officers and NPP supporters protesting his arrest. It was the MP’s arrest that led to the riotous actions outside the three security installations in the very first place.

The beleaguered MP, who owns Oman FM, had spoken in an interview on his own station, asking one ethnic group to rise up and defend itself against two other ethnic groups. The man was apparently extremely angry over the attacks on supporters of his party at voters' registration centers.

The offending part of Mr. Kennedy Agyapong furious diatribe reads somewhat as follows:

Kennedy Agyapong: …This is war and I am telling Gbvelo Lartey {the National Security Chief} that the war starts from now.

Interviewer: are you declaring war?

KA: Yes! I declare war today!

Interviewer: Do you have the power to declare war..?

KA : If you are an Ashanti or Akan and a Ga or Ewe enters your shop, take whatever weapon you can lay a hand on and hit him. Hit him on the head. We will not allow such foolishness.

We will beat up all the Gas in Ashanti Region. We will beat up all the Ewes in the Ashanti Region. I declare war in the country. Gbevlo Lartey should come and arrest me. If you have a machete, use it to butcher them.......I declare war today!

The NPP leadership says while the party does not endorse statements and actions that threaten the peace, it is also constrained to note the selective manner in which the police have been enforcing the law with regard to acts of violence at voter registration centers.

The NPP leadership says many members of the NDC have gone unsanctioned after publicly making similar inflammatory and peace-threatening statements. The party is also appalled that the rag tag, pick-axe and machete-wielding militias of sorts, who have rampaged through voter registration centers intimidating prospective voters, have done so without the intervention of the police.

I wonder what this business about Akans, Gas and Ewes is all about, Jomo. When I meet a bloke I often do not give two-and-a-half hoots about his height, physical looks, station in life, whether he lives in Trassaco Valley or Agbogbloshe or his ethnic origin. As long he holds himself up diligently as a shoeshine boy, butcher or professor and acts as a child of God should, that is fine with me, Jomo.

All is going to be just fine. There won’t be any war. The election will be held peacefully in December. That is what one hell of an optimistic chap said in the wake of the commotion all over the place. Do you reckon peace could ever grow on the tree of uncompromising hostility? We need to work at it.

Working at it means constantly reminding the NDC and NPP that he police are constitutionally mandated to maintain law and order and protect the populace and no one, not even the president, has the right to interfere with the work of the police.

The leadership and rank and file of both the ruling party and the NPP or any other party has no right to confront the police in the wake of an arrest and demand the release of a suspect. Doing that would be criminal.

The corruptive and unlawful “order from above” thing impeding law enforcement must not be allowed to hold sway any more. If it is confirmed with evidence that any one sitting up in the stratosphere or any other realm that may be described as “above”, orders the unconditional release of suspects, he should be promptly arrested and slapped with the appropriate criminal charge.

In arresting anyone however, the police must be clear in their mind what precise charge they intend to prefer against the suspect, refrain from abusing his rights in anyway and ensure that he has access to a legal counsel.

Many are those who think the treason case against Agyapong could add to the growing list of cases the government has rushed to court, without wording the charges appropriately and without the evidence needed to secure a conviction.

For a blundering start, the treason case against Agyepong was sent to a magistrate court of all judicial jurisdictions. The judge naturally abdicated hearing of the case on Wednesday for lack of jurisdiction.

By the by, Jomo, there is this thing bugging me no end about voting patterns in Ghana: One pet phrase of rival politicians when they clash in a propaganda punch-up is “Ghanaians are discerning enough…”

Do you honestly and true to conscience really believe THAT? Do you think if the level of formal education of the mass of Ghanaians were much higher and voters with limited formal education were shielded from the influence of ethnic communities and crafty politicians oozing manipulative generosity toward the poor, the general voting pattern as we have known it, would be the same?

What does the fact of more than 90 percent of voters at Pito Junction habitually voting for a particular political party tell you? In other words, what is the net impact of the phenomenon of monstrous bloc voting in Ghana on the integrity of our democracy, do you know? Website: www.sydneyabugri.com Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com