HISTORY OF BY-ELECTION AND ELECTION RELATED VIOLENCE IN GHANA!
Mustafa Hameed writes:
By-elections and election/voter-related activities used to be very peaceful until Prof. Mills became president. That was when the NDC were made to feel that when one has power, they can use it to intimidate their opponents to win an election or get their way.
A little bit of history:
In 2005, there was a by-election in Asawase, after the unfortunate sudden demise of then NDC candidate and incumbent MP, Dr. Jibril, the elections that saw Hon. Muntaka as MP. The NPP was in power, we had lost the parliamentary elections in the general elections the previous year by a relatively closer margin and all we needed, or we thought, was to field a Zongo indigene. We did not consider using party vigilante groups or the security to mar the elections or intimidate anyone, we did what we thought was backed by some empirical electoral research, we lost by an even wider margin.
Fast forward to 2008, Mills won the elections and in 2009, the man had his first test: the infamous Chereponi by-elections. A seat the NPP had won in 2008. That was, as far back as I can recall, the genesis of by-election violence. The NDC used everything at their disposal, to intimidate and abuse everyone. Ensured people couldn’t come out to vote in NPP strongholds. They instilled fear in the people. That was the elections where a plain-clothed supposed national security officer was seen firing live bullets from a pistol into a dispersing crowd of voters and observers. I was horrified and petrified as I watched those scenes on Metro TV, I had never for the whole life of me, seen anything as brutal, and as heinous a crime, being perpetrated by humans on humans in the name of elections. Till date, nobody has compensated those who were injured and maimed for life. The NDC managed to use the application of extreme brute force, intimidation and violence to win that election. This became ingrained not only in the minds of their support base, but but genetically modified in their DNA, that, they are the custodians of violence, and they must use violence to win elections.
After the deadly incidence and gory scenes from Chereponi, Mills and the NDC leadership subtle and in most cases, open endorsement of the violence that characterized that exercise, the ordinary NDC activist became convinced in their minds that, it is pretty much okay to use every force available to snatch a seat or retain one in any election. Same was repeated in Atiwa, the the violence were gruesome, the scenes— something you only see in Hollywood blockbusters! Azorka boys were brought from Tamale, shooting sporadically to disperse crowds that had gathered to cast their votes. Thugs were brought in from all the country to disrupt the process as the police watched on unconcerned. In a brazen act of defiance, the people had no choice but to defend themselves. They mounted road blocks with whatever they could find and in some places, they formed human walls on the streets leading to voting centers. That was when Anita ‘Beelzebub’ Desoso was informed, she came in with her pick up truck, at full speed, driving through the the sea of humans in an attempt to disperse them. She run over four persons, who sustained very serious injuries. In the end, the will of the people of Atiwa prevailed. Citizens who had come out to exercise their democratic rights were injured, manhandled, maimed and scarred for life.
BIOMETRIC REGISTRATION EXERCISE 2012
“I am not a police or a law enforcement officer to arrest and prosecute those causing disturbances at registration centers”
The above is a quote from Prof. Mills of blessed memory, Ghana’s late ex-president. So in 2012, the electoral commission decided to compile a new register for the elections later that year. This was also seen as an opportunity by the NDC leadership, to unleash the most horrifying form of thuggery on the citizenry. The plan was simple: as much as possible, make sure the bulk majority of people in NPP perceived strongholds don’t get the chance to register. Similar to their style, they unleashed thugs, who moved about like rambos on marauding rampage, engaging in all manner of despicable madness and mayhem, using violence and intimidation, firing gunshots in the air, just to stop people from voting.
The acts were quite rampant in Kumasi specifically. It was deliberately calculated on a regional scale, constituency level and even polling stations in majority NDC constituencies that were noted or perceived to be aligned to the NPP. All Mills could sag was, he was no policeman to arrest anyone. We all remember what Nii Lantey Vanderpuye and his machete-wielding hoodlums did to NPP activists at Odododiodio, and how people carrying Akan names were subjects of deliberate intimidation and violence. Mills, in his meek posture, endorsed and could not condemn his personal aide, who continued to use his thugs to physically abuse his opponents.
We thank God for the lives of Ursula Owusu, Samuel A. Jinapor and other gallant patriots who were victims of these unprovoked and unwarranted NDC-orchestrated violence. Violence that Prof. Mills insisted was not his duty to condemn because the country had police officers who were constitutionally mandated to carry their duties.
What happened in Talensi in 2015 during the by-election is an indictment on our democratic credentials, it’ll forever remain a scar on the conscience of Mahama, and so will it be for the rest of his life. First, he ensured all roads leading to Talensi had police barriers, not even nail cutters was allowed in. NPP activists and party leadership were searched thoroughly, intimidated in the process but were allowed in. It was there surprisingly unbelievable, that NDC activists came into the town wielding AK47 rifles, shooting indiscriminately while the police looked on helplessly. We thank God for the life of Freddie Blay our national chairman. A foot soldier aimed a gun at him, fired and missed miraculously at a polling station. The foot soldier did not understand why a whole national chairman must be at polling station to observe the process. It is by the grace of God that Chairman Blay is alive today. Boadu John had to seek refuge at a police station, he’d have been history today. There again, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko was their target, it was though someone sitting somewhere gave them specific instructions to eliminate him. We thank God for the lives of all these people. For those who died in the struggle from 2009 – 2016, we pray their souls find eternal rest.
LET MY VOTE COUNT PROCESSION 2015
In 2015, pro-opposition pressure group the Let My Vote Count (Let My Vote Count) alliance, in exercising their constitutional right of freedom to demonstrate, notified the police, engaged with them in a series of meetings on modalities for the procession, agreed on time, date and routes. The event was attended by law abiding citizens, prominent members of our society and ordinary folks. Mahama was President, not to belabor the obvious, but this was someone who had gone under Mills’ tutelage and learned all that there was to learn on using violence to intimidate politician opponents, coupled with his own violent dispositions and inclinations, unleashed terror on peaceful demonstrators, whose only demand was a new voters register, because the one we had was obviously compromised.
These peaceful demonstrators were met by blood thirsty vampires in police uniforms. They were brutalized, molested and no one was spared. Those ones did not go about threatening people with “we will kill all of you” rants. They were not polling stations to disrupt electoral process, they carried no guns or machetes. Heck! It was not even a tune for elections. All they had were paper placards and a large banner with a message: NEW VOTERS REGISTER NOW. Plain-clothed security officers, done dresses in jeans and timberland boots, holding sticks, pepper sprays, cudgels, AK47 rifles using the most brute of force and gestapo tactics meted out terror on them, not even the women were spared. We thank God for the life of Justice Adzakuma, the valiant young man who lost an eye through the process. We thank God for the lives of Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Agnes Adu, AaSuma Manye Torshie Torto and all the patriots who suffered one form of abuse or another but never got any justice. Especially the women, your names have been written in the sands of time.
AYAWASO WEST WUOGON 2019
The NDC clearly, have lived their entire lives through the use of violence and intimidation to get their way in elections and election-related activities. Like I said, it has become embossed, in their brains and implanted I their thoughts and thinking, and ingrained in their DNAs, and as Mahama rightly, that they are the custodians of violence, they’re the embodiment of chaos, they’re the chiefs of anarchy and the beau ideal of lawlessness. The ordinary NDC man or woman has been raised to believe that the NPP activist whatever their status, is easily intimidated and will disperse at the slightest of intimidation whether in power or in opposition. Whether in power or opposition again, the NDC have been raised to believe they can disrupt election to achieve a specific goal and that is exactly what happened in Bawaleshie. They came to do one thing, disrupt the process with their lions, hawks and eagles. Indeed and in fact, AWW was supposed to be the litmus test of the efficacy of the Hawks in their intimidatory trainings. Like they have done over the years, and with their philosophy of violence, they felt 2019 was 2009, or 2012 or any of those times in our history where they used violence as a tool to get their way.
Luck eluded them, they were stopped in their tracks. They were met half way by the security forces and I am sure, now all of us will go back to the drawing board, that violence cannot be the way to go. Policies, ideas, and intellectual exchanges. Those who think they are the custodians of violence must rethink again, the police will not hesitate to deal with anyone, with ruthless aggression, those who have made a career out of using intimidatory tactics to disrupt electoral processes. Those who suffered injuries, I wish them speedy recoveries. Nobody must make a career out disrupting elections. This must be lesson enough.
The election at AWW was largely peaceful, but for the career miscreants who tried to, as they have always done, disrupt a peaceful process to meet their selfish party expectations. Kudos to the police for picking up the intelligence, and stopping them before they could even unleash their thuggery. Kudos to Hon. Bryan Acheampong, National Security Minister at the Presidency for his proactiveness.
#NanaAddoTill2024 In Sha’a Allah.