The Emile Short Commission set up to probe the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election disturbances has described as lies Sam George’s assertion that the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit was created during the tenure of the Akufo-Addo administration.
The report, which has already attracted a government White Paper, states on Paragraph 2.15 (page 40) that “we find as a fact that this Unit (SWAT) was set up between 2010 and 2012.”
During his appearance before the commission to give testimony about what happened on that fateful day, the Ningo Prampram Member of Parliament (MP) said, among other things, that the SWAT was created under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.
“It is thus untrue that this Unit was set up under the current NPP administration that took office in January 2017,” the report pointed out.
Sam George was categorical when he asserted before the commission that at the time that he served in government at the Office of the President, the SWAT was non-existent, but this was shot down in the report thus “he was clearly mistaken, because it did.”
Proceeding, the report explained that perhaps it may be the special uniforms members of the unit wore that could have changed “but certainly not their existence.” This segment of the report should put to rest the debate as to whether the unit came into being under the incumbent administration or before it.
Sam George had many viewers of his live appearance at the Emile Short Commission struggling to winnow the grains from the chaff when he especially said he managed to avoid some 30 bullets from hitting him on the fateful day.
The Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) is an American creation to confront violent criminals and to quell riots by this special law enforcement unit. It was established in the 1960s or so and designed to use military-style response to violent crime. They use in the course of their operations unusual equipment such as stun guns, door-breaking gadgets, among others.
Turning to the hawkish National Democratic Congress (NDC) vigilante group, the Hawks, the report states that they were indeed present at the residence of the party’s parliamentary candidate.
This is a variation from what the commission was told by Theophilus Sedodi believed to be one of the leaders of the Hawks when he made his appearance before the commission.
During his appearance, the man the report described as a man of “unusually great physique and impossible to miss even in a crowd” sought to diminish the importance of his presence among the Hawks in front of the residence of the NDC parliamentary candidate.
This aspect of the report effectively knocks off the position by the NDC elements who appeared before the commission that the Hawks did not exist, let alone partake in the election day mayhem in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency.
The unusual physique of Theophilus gave him out in the footages which were played out to depict the occurrences on the fateful date.
His denial that he was not a member of the Hawks failed to convince the commission whose report described him as such anyway.
The report noted that Theophilus’ association with the Hawks as its leader is sufficiently captured on the Internet.
Continuing, it stated that he was part of the group when it was inaugurated during the NDC Unity Walk in Kumasi; he was spotted donning the Hawks’ T-Shirt with the picture of the head of a hawk embossed on the top left hand side, a fact he did not deny anyway.
“Despite his strenuous denial, the preponderance of evidence points to the fact that he is a member of the group, even if he is not the leader,” the report nailed its position.
The report recalls Theophilus’ 31st January presence at the frontage of the PC’s residence, a fact which raised strong suspicion of the presence of the militia group, ‘The Hawks’.
The man the report went on“was positively identified by Akomea of the SWAT team, as being present in the restive crowd at the frontage of the PC’s house that morning, leading to his subsequent chase and arrest by the SWAT team.”
The commission made a number of recommendations which was part of its terms of reference, one of which is the review of the method of reporting within the National Security setup.
Of significance is the recommendation that the National Security Coordinator be elevated to the first level where his or her subordinate officers would be reporting directly to him or her. Also recommended is the streamlining and clarification of the roles of officers within the National Security setup.
The commission did not have a good impression about the integrity of recruitments into the Ghana Police Service as evidenced in its recommendation on the subject.
Recruitments should be as it put it “merit-based criteria to ensure that the most qualified and not the most well-connected persons are enlisted.”
The Ayawaso West Wuogon Trouble
The Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election was prompted by the demise of Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko, then MP for the constituency. The electoral process was marred by isolated yet significant mayhem caused by rampaging vigilante groups.
Members of the opposition NDC Hawks were in action in the constituency but in the ensuing varying narrations of what really happened the truth became too difficult to decipher.
The President’s empanelling of a commission headed by the eminent legal brain Justice Francis Emile Short was geared to finding out what happened with a view to dealing once and for all the canker of party vigilantism.
Now a legislation banning vigilantism within political parties is in the offing.
The commission was set up on February 6, 2019 to probe the January 31, 2019 Ayawaso West Wugon Constituency by-election violence.
Apart from Justice Emile Short, there were also Prof. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, a distinguished Law Professor of international repute, and Patrick K. Acheampong, a former Inspector-General of Police as members, with Ernest Kofi Abotsi, a Private Legal Practitioner, as the Secretary.