The West Africa Nobles Forum(WANF) has commended the government for its decision in the white paper on the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commisison’s report to prosecute a national security operative, Mr Ernest Akomea, for possessing firearms without authorisation during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence.
It said the decision was in the right direction as it would ensure that security operatives worked within their limits.
The government’s decision follows recommendations of the Justice Emile Short Commission which investigated the incident which resulted in the injury of 18 people when national security operatives clashed with some supporters of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Mr Akomea alias ‘Double’ admitted before the committee that he grabbed a firearm from one of the SWAT unit members during an operation to recover arms allegedly hidden in the home of the NDC aspirant in the by-election, Mr Delali Brempong.
WANF, however, expressed concern about the government’s decision not to prosecute the national security operative, Mohammed Sulemana, who slapped the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, Mr Sam George Nartey, during the violence that characterised the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 31, this year.
The President-General of the forum, Dr Paul Kofi Fynn, told the Daily Graphic that the white paper on the violence that resulted in the injury of 18 people failed to inspire hope that the government was willing to tackle vigilantism.
Back and forth
The Short Commission had recommended that Mr Sulemana, who assaulted the Ningo-Prampram MP, be prosecuted. However, the government in its white paper explained that, the Commission had suggested that Mr Sulemana had “a valid defence of provocation for the assault.
When the operative appeared before the Commission, he accused the NDC MP of denigrating his ethno-regional identity but subsequently apologised for slapping the NDC MP when he appeared before the Short Commission in March this year.
Mr George refuted the allegation saying “It makes me sick to suggest I said those words.”
Dr Fynn said it was ironic that the government that passed a vigilantism law would allow an abusive security operative to walk away under the guise of provocation.
“While we appreciate the fact that the vigilantism law cannot take retrospective effect because the incident happened before the law was passed, we find it unbelievable that an operative who assaulted a Member of Parliament would go unpunished.
“What are we telling our security personnel? Are we saying it is okay for personnel of the security services to assault people as far as they could argue that they were provoked?” he asked.
Dr Fynn also lauded the government’s decision to compensate the victims.
On the way forward, he said it was not too late for the government to use the report to reform the work of security services as it was obvious that there were some lapses in the operation that resulted in the incident.
“Security protocol is not cast in stone and should be dynamic when we realise flaws. The days when security personnel were seen as above the law is long gone. We must be open to changes that make our officers better and our society safer,” he said.
Police and guns
Touching on the decision of the police to arm its Motor Traffic and Transport Department, he said while the decision was a welcome one in the face of the increasing threat on the lives of officers, it was also important to restrain them.
“We know that there are some officers who are trigger-happy and may use their arms with the least provocation. We must re-orient our police officers so they don’t exaggerate situations and pull guns.
The Short Commission began sitting on February 11, 2019, three days after Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, commissioned it with terms of reference including, making a full, faithful and impartial enquiry 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.