Ayawaso has been my Waterloo – Bryan Acheampong
Mr Bryan Acheampong, a former Minister of State at the National Security Ministry, has said the violence that characterised the January 31, 2019 parliamentary by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency has been his Waterloo.
“Mr Chairman, Ayawaso has been my waterloo. It is something that, in the performance of the duty of the state, an individual has been unjustifiably held liable for something that, that individual knows nothing about,” he said.
Mr Acheampong, the Minister-Designate for Food and Agriculture, stated this on Monday when he appeared before the Appointment Committee of Parliament in Accra on Monday for vetting.
“….I must add that the Ayawaso violence is a blot on our democracy, we pray that it doesn’t happen again. I sympathise with those who were wounded on that day.”
He said the government ensured that the wounded were treated at the 37 Military Hospital and their medical bills were paid for by the state.
Mr Acheampong said he had perused the over 500-page report of the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission of Enquiry, and that his name was not mentioned anywhere as having done anything wrong.
He said the report indicated that persons from the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) Team were deployed under the command of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Samuel Azugu, under the authority of the Director of Operations of the National Security Secretariat and with the ultimate responsibility of the Minister of State at the Ministry of National Security.
He admitted that while he was then the Minister of State at the National Security, he was responsible for the SWAT Team.
“So, if the findings were that the people were sent to Ayawaso under the command of a police officer, and the Police Officer was under the command of the Director of Operations, and the Director of Operations was at the command of the Minister of State at the Ministry of National Security and the Minister of State was at the command of a Minister of National Security…… and so on and so forth, where does it end?” Mr Acheampong questioned.
“And why would they end it at my doorstep? Not being part of the operation, not being part of the command on that day. No evidence was given to that.”
He said that the Commission did not recommend his prosecution, because there was no fact to support that; saying it, however, placed an individual liability on him.
“The Commission recommends that Mr Bryan Acheampong be reprimanded for his ultimate responsibility as Minister in authorising an operation of that character on a day of election in a built-up area,” the nominee said.
“Mr Chairman, even in the unlikely event that I was the Minister of State and authorised that operation, what I’m being asked to be reprimanded for is not a crime”.
Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Appointment Commitment, asked the minister-designate whether he authorised the operation.
Mr Acheampong: “Mr Chairman, I did not authorise that operation. And that is why it was easy for the (Government) White Paper to say that they reject the recommendations because it is without basis”.
Following the unfortunate incidence the House had passed the law to address political vigilantism, he said, adding; “Today we no longer hear about vigilantism the way we used to hear about it in the past”.
He said the violence that characterised the by-election was unfortunate “but where the liability is being placed is where I think it is misplaced.”
The nominee told the House that no one died in the violence.
Touching on agriculture and food production, the Minister-Designate said Ghana was self-sufficient in food production and, given the nod, he would ensure that improved seeds were made available to farmers to increase productivity.