AWW Commission: CODEO must come clean

Since the
commencement of the Fourth Republic, Ghana has sadly recorded violence with
by-elections to replace Members of Parliament. I can readily recall Chereponi,
Talensi and  Atewa by-elections. For some strange reasons, the Ghana
Police Service seem to have never concluded investigations into these election
related violence. Or to put it more appropriately, there is little or no record
of any successful prosecution of individuals involved in such activities.

The reason why
by-elections are highly fertile periods for violence may be because of the
‘political statements’ competing political parties seek to make. A ruling
political party may use a favorable outcome to say that electorates have
endorsed the policies and programs of the government. A favorable outcome for
the opposition political party may be used to say electorates have rejected the
policies and programs of a government.

As I have stated
earlier, for some strange reasons, individuals involved in these elections
related violence are hardly punished. It is for this reason that the President
and government must be commended for setting up a Commission of
Inquiry(Commission) into the Ayawaso West Wougon (AWW) by-elections which took
place on the 31st day of January, 2019. The work of the Commission will unravel
challenges with our election security arrangements and offer possible solutions
to stop this canker. The Commission’s proceedings these past few days has
allayed the doubts and skeptism created in the minds of people that the
Commission was to do a cover up work. The credibility, integrity and
impartiality of the personalities on the Commission has been on full display
during the proceedings. Counsel for the Commission, Eric Akwasi Osei-Mensah
Esq. keeps putting incisive, hard and probing questions to the witnesses who
appear before the Commission.

On Friday, the 15th
day of February, 2019, when the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Jean Mensa
took her turn at the Commission, she disclosed some facts about the AWW
by-election which is the focus of this article. She was asked specific
questions regarding an incident that allegedly took place at the Prisons JHS
Polling Center in Roman Ridge. The allegations were made by the Coalition of
Domestic Election Observors (CODEO) in a report they published on the 3rd of
February, 2019 that “security operatives who claimed to be National
Security operatives positioned themselves next to polling officials and when a
stationed uniformed police officer alerted them to move away from poll
officials, a pick-up full of many more of the so-called security operatives
descended on the police officer and attacked him for doing legitimate

It has turned out
that this part of CODEO’s report is not true. The EC Chairperson, relying on
the report of the Presiding Officer of the said Polling Center has flatly
denied this scary incident ever happened. It is important to state that the
Presiding Officer is the overall head in charge of election organization at a
polling station. Again, the elections monitoring team from the Electoral
Commission deployed into the Constituency also did not record any such incident
in their report. The most interesting part is that, the Regional Police
Commander has in a letter denied any of his police officers was descended upon
or attacked by any masked National Security operatives as alleged by CODEO.

It has become clear
that this particular allegations contained in CODEO’s report is not supportable
so far. CODEO must come out publicly again to speak to this specific issue. The
importance of election observers cannot be over-emphasized. Their reports are
used by many important institutions both locally and internationally. Indeed,
CODEO’s report has influenced many news headlines, media and discussions.
Diplomatic missions in Ghana may have already sent reports on the AWW
by-elections to their home countries heavily relying on CODEO’s report. So
CODEO owes it to Ghanaians and their important stakeholders to report only the
truth of events that has actually taken place. It cannot be the case that a
police officer was “descended upon and attacked” by armed masked men
at Prisons JHS polling center and the Presiding Officer did not see it, the
election monitoring team did not report it or the police command is unaware
about it.

CODEO may need to
investigate their officer who filed this particular report to provide further
evidence to support this allegation else CODEO must publicly withdraw this
allegation and apologize. It will be in the interest of the CODEO to admit they
erred in this particular allegation than to allow this falsity to stand in
their name.




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