President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Thursday received the final Report of the Emile Short Commission into the events surrounding the conduct of the by-election at the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency last January.
The Report contains the findings and recommendations of the Commission after a month’s investigations on the circumstances that led to the violence during the by-election leaving some seven persons with various degree of injuries.
At a brief ceremony at the Jubilee House in Accra, President Akufo-Addo thanked the Commission for the work it had done, saying that the Report would engage the attention of the Government.
He said he was happy that the members of the Commission accepted the “sensitive” national assignment and completed their work in record time, adding; “We will look at the matters and respond appropriately”.
Noting the role of the Government to maintaining law and order, the President was emphatic that responsibility “is not one that can be abdicated on any occasion.”
“So to the extent that this Commission can help us, its findings and recommendations can help us advance the course of law and order in our country. I welcome it. It will be the subject of close study,” he stated.
“The Commission’s work would help us on the war to rid our nation of this canker of electoral and politically-related violence before it becomes part of the culture of our politics,” he said.
“It is regrettable that, that should be the case, but our duty is to confront the realities of the day and try and find a panacea for the good people of Ghana to go about their duties.”
Justice Short informed the President that the depth covered all necessary grounds adding; “I am confident that you would find the findings and recommendations useful for innovative reforms for the future.”
“I wish to thank you, your Excellency, for this necessary initiative and commend your resolve to stamp out the evil of electoral violence from our body politic,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo announced the setting up of the Short Commission on February 6, 2019. The body was inaugurated by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on February 11, and began its work that same day.
The Commission, as per its terms of reference, had a month to complete its work.
The Commission, chaired by the former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Francis Emile Short, had Mrs Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, a distinguished Law Professor of international repute, and Mr Patrick K. Acheampong, a former Inspector-General of Police as members. Mr Ernest Kofi Abotsi, a Private Legal Practitioner, was the Secretary.
It was tasked to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to, the events and associated violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 31, 2019.
The Commission was to identify any person responsible for or who has been involved in the events, associated violence and injuries; and inquire into any matter, which the Commission considers incidental or reasonably related to the causes of the events and the associated violence and injuries.
It was mandated to submit its report within a month to the President giving reasons for its findings and recommendations, including appropriate sanctions, if any.
President Akufo-Addo had roundly condemned the violence that characterized the early stages of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, especially at the La Bawaleshi Polling Centre, and described the incident as unfortunate and regrettable.
“I condemn it in no uncertain terms. A by-election should be a peaceful and happy event, no matter how competitive,” he said, and tasked the Police Service to conduct speedy investigations into the matter and bring those culpable to book.
The Commission, in its public sittings, invited all persons connected to the incident and and those who had knowledge of it.
Those who appeared before the Commission included the Inspector-General of Police, the National Security Minister, the Interior Minister, and the Commander of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit of the Ghana Police Service.
A Member of Parliament who was assaulted by a security operative and some journalists who covered the event were also invited.