Three Ministers of State on Thursday, gave evidence at the first sitting of the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission of enquiry, investigating the violence that erupted during the January 31 Parliamentary by-election.
The Ministers are Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of the Interior; Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, the National Security Minister and Mr Bryan Acheampong, the Minister of State in-charge of National Security.
The trio gave their respective accounts of the security situation during the parliamentary by-election and the aftermath.
The Ministers condemned political vigilantism; stating that, political vigilantism was criminal and that those who engaged in it should be punished according to law.
The trio also reiterated Government’s resolve and commitment to eliminate political vigilantism in the country.
The Commission was set up by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to conduct a far-reaching investigation, which would sustain the peace of the nation.
It is under the chairmanship of Mr Francis Emile Short, a former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
Other members of the Commission are Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, an eminent professor in Criminal Law and Mr Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong, a former IGP; with Dr Ernest Kofi Abotsi, a private legal practitioner, and a former Dean of the GIMPA Law School, as the Secretary.
Mr Dery, who was the first to appear before the Commission, said it was not the Police Administration, which authorised the January 31 operation at the residence of the National Democratic Congress Parliamentary Candidate in the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.
He said the briefing he received from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) thereafter indicated that the masked men were from an outfit of the National Security.
He said, he first got to know about the event, involving the operatives, clothed in brown uniforms and black T-shirts, embossed with NSC, through the media, before the IGP’s briefing.
The confrontation that ensued between the operatives and the men in the house resulted in gunshots.
Six persons were hospitalised with various degrees of injuries, with one seriously in the leg.
The incident has since been condemned widely across the country, amidst calls for thorough investigations to bring the culprits to book.
Both Mr Kan-Dapaah and Mr Bryan Acheampong stated before the Commission that they were out of town on the day of the Ayawaso West Wuogon Parliamentary bye-election.
Mr Kan-Dapaah, who was the second to testify before the Commission, disclosed that the masked men deployed during the Ayawaso West Wuogon Parliamentary bye-election were officials of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of the National Security.
He said based on intelligence information gathered, his outfit deployed 60 men, which were made up 25 police officers and 35 operatives to check for weapons in a particular building in the constituency.
Responding to a question from Professor Mensa-Bonsu, Mr Kan-Dapaah noted that, the notion that political parties owned vigilante groups was false and that no party in the country owned any such groups; adding that, vigilante groups were rather owned by members of political parties.
“There isn’t one vigilante group that belongs to a political party, the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) has just come out with a study, which established that these vigilante groups are owned by some individuals and kingpins within the political parties.
“So the NPP has not got a vigilante group per se because if you go into it you will find that these are not vigilante group of the party.”
He noted that political vigilantism was a crime and that the police and other security personnel had been instructed to deal with any acts of vigilantism.
In a response to Mr Short’s question as to why the man who attacked Mr Sam George, the Ningo-Prampram Member of Parliament had not been arrested and prosecuted, Mr Kan-Dapaah said the matter was still being investigated by the police.
Mr Eric Osei Mensah, the Commission’s Counsel asked Mr Bryan Acheampong whether media reports making rounds that he (Mr Bryan Acheampong) ordered the deployment of the SWAT team was true, Mr Acheampong replied in the negative, saying at no point in time did he ever make such a claim.
He recounted that he granted three interviews to three media houses, and that in all his remarks, he used the words “we deployed….”; referring to the National Security.
At this point, the Commission’s Counsel asked that the tape of the interview Mr Bryan Acheampong granted on Citi fm be played for the records.
After listening to the tape for eight minutes, it confirmed Mr Bryan Acheampong’s submission.
The Commission adjourned sitting to Friday, February 15.