The Minister of State in charge of National security, Mr. Bryan Acheampong, has given strong indications that the armed masked men who assaulted civilians at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election will be made to face the full rigours of the law.
Mr. Acheampong said he has also instructed the Director of Operations for the National security to identify and fish out the man who assaulted the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Mr. Sam George during the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, and remove him from operations of the National Security Council.
Speaking at the public hearing of the Justice Emile Short Commission of Inquiry on Thursday, Mr. Bryan Acheampong was, however, unable to state exactly what other punishment will be meted out the said individual who assaulted the legislator as well as his other fully masked armed colleagues who were caught on camera brutalizing civilians.
The Abetifi MP also disclosed that all of such masked and armed men, who assaulted individuals will be made available for questioning into circumstances leading to their misconduct.
The Minister of State in charge of National Security, also explained to the commission of inquiry that, the presence of masked armed men at the by-election was “not a failed operation” despite all the condemnation from civil society organizations, opposition political parties, and the general public.
According to him, the armed and masked men numbering about 60 of them deployed did not fire gunshots indiscriminately as reported by the media.
Appearing before the Justice Emile Short commission of Inquiry Mr. Acheampong explained that the armed security operatives seen in khaki and masks did not misconduct themselves in their handling of the volatile security situation during the by-election.
He explained that although he was not on the ground for first-hand information, the security briefs he received indicates that the armed masked men, widely described in the media as hoodlums were on duty to arrest certain 9 persons who were causing trouble near the home of the NDC candidate for the by-election.
He added that ‘minimal force’ was used in their arrest after they initially resisted arrest.
Mr. Bryan Acheampong who is also a Member of Parliament of the Abetifi Constituency in his defence for the national security operatives said the gunshots they fired were warning shots and not directed at any person.
He alleged that all the gunshots wounds took place inside the house of the NDC parliamentary candidate for the by-election, Mr. Delali Kwesi Brempong.
“They tell me, that in the arrest of the nine people, six were injured I asked if it was from gunshots, they said no. They were resisting arrest and they applied minimal force in their language and sustained some injuries, they sent to the police station and they were given medical forms, so yes, some Ghanaians sustained injuries.”
Masked armed men were not part of Police operation – Ambrose Dery
The Interior Minister, Mr, Ambrose Dery in an interesting twist to the violence witnessed during the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, has earlier said the Police Service did not play any role in the disturbances.
Mr. Ambrose Dery who was first of to be invited to the public hearing of the commission of inquiry said, the Police service, which is under his ministry had no hand in the operations of the masked men who have been widely described in the media as party vigilantes aligned to the governing New Patriotic Party
He also disclosed that the vehicles used in transporting these masked and fully armed men to the La Bawaleshie polling centre, where most of the violence occurred, did not belong to the Police Service despite having the inscription “Police SWAT” on it and being driven by a uniformed police officer.
Mr. Ambrose Dery also noted he had no idea of the deployment of the masked men to the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency and only saw them on national television.
He also explained that the official report sent to him, by the IGP revealed that the masked men in Khaki uniforms were not personnel of the Ghana Police service.
“As reported to me, by the IGP, who was in charge of the operations, I will say that there were police deployed and there were also officers of the Ghana Immigration Service, also deployed in the 137 polling stations. That is what I know…”
“…I first saw on TV, some persons dressed in Khaki and some of them wearing masks and armed… and when I got the video, I forwarded it to the Police and he said these are not part of my men. I later got information that an officer of National security had said that they were national security operatives,” he said.
The NDC withdrew from the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election following the shooting incident and ordered its polling agents and observers out of the area.
The masked men were caught on camera beating up civilians who did not resist arrest. The men, fully armed were also seen in the company of some police officers.
Some of these men believed to party vigilantes of the ruling NPP were seen in T-shirts with the inscription ‘NSC’ which translates as the National Security Council of which the President of the Republic heads.
The Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, was seen being struck in the face by two security personnel in a viral video.
Mr. Bryan Acheampong, Minister of State in charge of National Security in an interview on the Citi Breakfast show, said his outfit deployed the masked men.