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Opinions of Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Columnist: Caroline Boateng

Who said tweaa? Revisited!


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Gabriel Barimah has found a permanent place of fame on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia created and edited by volunteers and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a not-for profit organisation. He did so by the outburst, "Who said tweaa?"

Gabriel Barima is a former District Chief Executive (DCE) of the Ahafo Ano South District of the Ashanti Region. Delivering a speech at the Mankranso Hospital, he subjected his audience to some bragging about having the microphone and being the speaker all were listening to at that point in time.

His bragging might have annoyed some, one of whom exclaimed in Akan, tweaa (an Akan word of contempt for a statement made). It resulted in the DCE throwing a tantrum before his audience of chiefs, elders, health workers and people.

Threatening the person who had made the tweaa statement, Mr Barima stopped his speech and stormed out.

The outburst has earned him the nickname 'Tweaa DCE', according to Wikipedia.

Efutu

Well, last week my thoughts were drawn to that incident in 2014 because of some happenings at Efutu, where the National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary aspirant, Mr James Kofi Annan, was reported to have been charged by the acting Commandant of the Police Command and Staff College in Winneba.

His charge? Offensive conduct conducive to the breach of peace.

The action resulting in that charge?

He happened to have chanced upon an Eligibility Challenge Committee meeting and had demanded to know from the Municipal Electoral Commissioner why the meeting was being held on the blind side of his party.

The commandant told Mr Annan to address all grievances to him as Chair of the meeting, to which Mr Annan retorted, "If you are chairman of the committee and so what?"

The commandant did not take that lightly and, thus, charged and processed him for court.

I am just thinking aloud. Was there a crowd of voters at the meeting who we might say could have been agitated by Mr Annan's statements to constitute a breach of the peace?

Could the commandant not have appealed to Mr Annan's good conscience for the matter to have ended there?

This incident may not be similar to the Mankranso Hospital one; however, the arbitrariness of those wielding power is what is common in both. In the first case, the DCE threw a tantrum, refused to carry on with his speech and left the function.

I believe if he had been able to get the person who said tweaa, a similar charge or worse fate would have befallen him or her!

In the second instance, the police commandant charged the parliamentary aspirant for being contemptuous of his power.

Eligibility committee

The Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) website is silent on the Eligibility Committee or the District Registration Review Committee (DRRC).

However, information gathered shows that the committee is made up of the district police commander, the district education director, a traditional authority and a representative each from active political parties.

We live in a democracy where civility must be the characteristic behaviour of those wielding power. They must also be magnanimous when someone offends or challenges their authority.

The law must be resorted to as a last resort when there is a clear breach. It must not be resorted to as a means of teaching people lessons.

The police commandant had two choices as at the time he felt his authority challenged.

With the same authority, he could have been charitable and made cool heads prevail (and that would not have lessened his power in any way) or lashed out in the way he did, with a charge (because he felt threatened and that most often happens when one is unsure about the position he or she holds).

Wondering...

Were there any party officials at the meeting at Efutu? Why was the NDC not invited? Then there is the issue about the Minister of Special Development Initiatives, Hawa Koomson, that keeps me wondering whether I would have been so nicely treated by the police if, common me, had gone to a registration centre with macho men, one of whom fired into the crowd?

With the Efutu incident, the commandant should have exercised his discretion and overlooked it as an insult.

In the Kasoa incident, there is no room for such discretion and she must be brought to book even if shielding someone.

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