The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has condemned what it has said are attempts by the Ghana Police Service to control the use of social media and Short Message Service (SMS) on December 7.
In a petition copied to ClassFMonline.com bearing the signature of the acting National Chairman, Freddie Blay, the party said they “remain concerned about the threats made by your office to restrict the use of social media and SMS communications on Election Day”.
The party said the free use of social and other forms of communication are critical to providing “transparency and credibility to the election process, by allowing for independent reporting of incidents of violence and intimidation, as well as independent verification of results as tabulated and certified at individual polling stations”.
For them the adoption of any means to hamper communication will not promote democracy.
The party also raised concerns about several “incidents of violence and intimidation unlawfully perpetuated against officials and members of the NPP all over the country by National Democratic Congress (NDC) activists”.
They are therefore calling on the IGP “to demonstrate that you and your men can protect, even-handedly, all Ghanaians without prejudice or favouritism. We are convinced the police have a critical role to play in ensuring that intimidation and threats of violence will not mar public confidence in the electoral process. In this critical period, with less than 22 days left until election day, the impartial and untainted professionalism of the Ghana Police Service is needed and is more important than ever”.
They are, therefore, calling on the police to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators and prevent further violent attacks.
Below is the full petition:
THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
GHANA POLICE SERVICE
IN THE MATTER OF PEACEFUL ELECTION ACTIVITIES BEFORE DURING AND AFTER THE ELECTION AND IN THE MATTER OF PROMPT AND OBJECTIVE ENFORCEMENT OF PEACE AND SECURITY BY THE GHANA POLICE SERVICE
We write this formal letter as a follow up of the NPP delegation’s meeting with your good self as the IGP in the company of Senior Officers on Tuesday October 18, 2016 on the above subject matter.
Sir, you would recall that we referred to and emphasized several complaints of incidents of violence and intimidation unlawfully perpetuated against officials and members of the New Patriotic Party all over the country by NDC activists.
As we discussed at length and in details with your good self, the party officers and our members in the various regions have made several complaints and appeals over the intimidation and the violence but regrettably we are yet to see concrete measures put in place to deal with, address or forestall further occurrences of such incidents of intimidation or violence. We are therefore formally appealing to you and your good office, once more, to renew your efforts to enforce the peace, to ensure that all Ghanaians feel free of harassment and intimidation in these final weeks before Election Day on December 7, 2016.
All Ghanaians must feel assured of the protection of the Police as they go about their peaceful election activities, whether it is registration to vote, advocating for their candidate on a house-to-house campaign, or going to the polls on December 7th. Acts of violence or intimidation are a threat to the credibility of the Electoral process.
Listed below in no particular order is evidential antecedence of the aforementioned complaints:
1. On July 6, 2015, during the Talensi by-election, thugs in the employ of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), known as the Azorka Boys, attacked then- National Vice Chairman of the NPP, Freddie Blay, National Treasurer, Kwabena Abankwa-Yeboah, former Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Rashid Bawa and other NPP officials without provocation. A complaint was lodged at the time at the Bolgatanga Police Station, but there has still not been any response from the Ghana Police Service except that the Upper East Police Command accused the NPP leadership of exaggerating these attacks. All the affected NPP officials received medical treatment for their injuries. Mr Abankwa-Yeboah and Mr. Bawa were the biggest casualties of the NDC attacks. Incidents such as this one erode the party’s confidence in the ability and will of the Ghana Police Service to provide us with EQUAL PROTECTION from intimidation and violence.
2. On May 8th, 2016 during the limited registration exercise in the Volta Region, the NPP Regional Chairman, John Peter Amewu was assaulted by men in Police uniform at Metsrikasa. The men in uniform were preparing to carry registration equipment on a vehicle toward a town on the Togo boarder which had not been designated in the original registration movement plan. Mr. Amewu was assaulted for using his android phone to capture pictorial evidence of the scenario. We lodged a complaint at the Regional Police Headquarters in Ho but up till now, the Regional Police Command has not informed us of any results of their investigations.
3. On October 11, 2016, 35 NPP women supporters, known as Loyal Ladies, were brutally assaulted by identified NDC thugs while conducting a house-to-house campaign in Suhum, Eastern Region. The women sought refuge at the Suhum chief’s palace but the thugs chased them there and attacked them along with some chiefs involved in preparations for the town’s Odwira Festival. Although the women reported the incident to local police, no arrests were made.
4. On October 12, 2016, two Deputy NPP National Youth Organizers, Salam Mustapha and Dominic Eduah, were this time assaulted by uniformed police personnel at the CID Headquarters while the NPP Officers had tried to secure bail for the president-elect of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Luqman Abubakar, who himself had sustained beatings by NDC youth supporters prior to his arrest and detention the previous day.
5. Driver of Dr Hannah Bissiw, a Deputy Minister, allegedly caused the abduction of a team of NPP medical personnel in the Brong Ahafo Region who were on a medical outreach programme and took them to Dr Bissiw’s house where they were manhandled before been released. A complaint was launched and so far there has been no action taken against the people involved in the abduction.
6. In the Asunafo North and South constituencies of the Brong Ahafo Region, Abduallai Mohammed, popularly known as Naabu, a brother of the Local Government Minister, Alhaji Collins Dauda, led ‘macho men’ to beat up NPP agents who were protesting the registration of minors and foreigners, in the full glare of the police, however, no police action has been taken.
7. According to eye witness reports in Banda, during the limited registration period, a car full of NDC activists and their hired ‘macho men’ went from one registration centre to another visiting mayhem on NPP agents and at times disrupting the registration process. No police action was taken.
8. On the 19th of September 2016, an NPP activist had his finger chopped off in Asunafo South by NDC thugs on the rampage; Police Personnel fled from the scene and have not conducted any police investigations over the matter since.
9. On the 2nd of October 2016, NDC ‘macho men’ attacked NPP supporters who were campaigning peacefully in Enyan Main in the Ajumako Enyan Essiam Constituency of the Central Region. Three people received severe knife wounds. The matter has not been investigated.
10. On 16th September, 2016, machete wielding NDC members inflicted wounds on an NPP activist in Kukuom in the Asunafo South District of the Brong Ahafo Region and nothing has been done about it although a complaint was lodged with the Police.
11. Sir, On Sunday, the 13th of November 2016, NDC activists numbering over 3,000 who claimed they were going on a health walk at the Nima Police Station junction attempted, without any provocation, to force their way into the residence of the NPP’s Flag bearer. We have reliably gathered that a number of them threw stones, bottles, and other forms of missiles into the house, across the wall. Paintings, pictures, banners, etc on the wall were vandalized and in some cases removed by these marauding activists.
Although the few personal security personnel at Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo’s gate resisted their attempt to enter into the premises of our Presidential Candidate, this development is alarming and a great cause for concern to us in the NPP. We have reasons to believe that this is not an isolated incident. We believe it is an orchestrated and carefully planned attack either to harm, intimidate or provoke unnecessary tension in the country going into the December elections. The implication of this development is most alarming. The Police, we are informed, took over one hour or two, to even make a belated presence although the Nima Police Station is a two-minute walk from our Flag bearer’s residence.
In the above cited instances, we are asking for your investigations and the necessary and prompt actions taken, according to the law.
In addition to the above-mentioned incidents of violence, we would like to express concern about the Ghana Police Service’s announcement of plans to use new police recruits, who are not yet fully qualified, to monitor polling stations and otherwise maintain law and order during the December 7 elections. The use of unqualified recruits , and the rapid scaling up of the recruitment process, raises concerns for us about transparency in how these individuals were recruited, and their capacity to provide full and equal protection to all Ghanaians on Election Day.
Finally, we remain concerned about the threats made by your office to restrict the use of SOCIAL MEDIA and SMS communications on Election Day. Along with other stakeholders, the NPP believes that the free use of SOCIAL MEDIA and other forms of communication are critical to providing transparency and credibility to the election process, by allowing for independent reporting of incidents of violence and intimidation, as well as independent verification of results as tabulated and certified at individual polling stations.
We call on you to demonstrate that you and your men can protect, even handedly, all Ghanaians without prejudice or favouritism. We are convinced the police have a critical role to play in ensuring that intimidation and threats of violence will not mar public confidence in the electoral process. In this critical period, with less than 22 days left until Election Day, the impartial and untainted professionalism of the Ghana Police Service is needed and is more important than ever.
We wish to assure you that, as a party, we want and would like to continue to restrain our people and encourage them to resort to the proper channels in seeking protection but this must be met with the appropriate responses from the Ghana Police Service and such responses must be in good time to avert any overspill of emotions. We believe that justice, is a necessary precursor to peace and that in the interest of peace, the Ghana Police Service must pursue all the reported cases with the aim of bringing justice to our numerous party members who have been brutalized, assaulted and intimidated.
We need not to over emphasize that it is your DUTY to the country to ensure that all the perpetrators are brought to book. We consider it, our responsibility, to put it on record that we have, once more, drawn your attention to the content of this document.
We are, by copies of this document, drawing the attention of the relevant international organizations as well as our development partners to the issues raised.
NATIONAL CHAIRMAN (AG.)
1. The Minister of the Interior, Republic of Ghana
2. The National Peace Council, Republic of Ghana
3. The Electoral Commission, Republic of Ghana
4. Dr Ibn Chambas, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General
5. The Ambassador, Embassy of the United States of America, Ghana
6. The High Commissioner, British High Commission, Ghana
7. The High Commissioner, South African High Commission, Ghana
8. The High Commissioner, Nigerian High Commission, Ghana
9. The Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Morocco, Ghana
10. The Chairperson, ECOWAS, Ghana
11. The Chairperson, African Union Commission, Ghana
12. The Head of Mission, United Nations Mission, Ghana
13. The Head of Mission, European Union Mission, Ghana