The General Secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), John Boadu, has justified the decision of some party leaders to stop some registrants from taking part in the ongoing voters’ registration exercise.
According to him, some Electoral Commission (EC) officials were not complying with the procedures in challenging the residency of some applicants.
The law governing the challenge process states that when the legitimacy of an applicant is called into question, the EC official must withhold the ID Card of the applicant until an EC panel makes a final determination on the person.
Mr Boadu was reacting to chaos that ensued at a registration centre at Kasoa in the Awutu Senya East Constituency, where the Member of Parliament for the area, Hawa Koomson, claimed she fired warning shots to protect members of her campaign team.
She claimed her National Democratic Congress (NDC) opponent was parading registration centres with macho men and had bused non-residents to register in the constituency, and she was at the centre to prevent that.
Lending credence to claims, John Boadu claims some EC officials have blatantly disregarded this law by issuing the ID cards to the applicants, making it difficult to validate the residency of some applicants.
“The procedures work at some centres and does not in others. At some centres, the registration officer will tell you to make a complaint when the residency of an applicant is challenged, but he or she will give the card to the applicant. Meanwhile, this goes contrary to the law.
“If this is going on at the registration centre, you cannot also sit down and say you will look on for them to perpetuate these illegalities… Let us not sit in Accra and think these things are not happening. If you have gone round the centres and seen what is happening in some polling stations, you will understand some of these things,” he in Twi in an interview with Accra-based Okay FM, which was monitored by theghanareport.com.
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Ms Koomson, who is also the Special Development Initiatives Minister, Koomson, accused her opponent, Phyllis Naa Koryoo of busing non-residents into the constituency to register.
A scuffle between the two resulted in gunshots and the burning of motorbikes.
EC officials conducting the registration exercise had to flee, bringing a temporary halt to the registration exercise in the area on Monday, July 20.
The minister who doubles as a Cabinet minister said she fired the warning shot after sensing her life and those of her boys were in danger.
The minister of state at the presidency, Hawa Koomson, said she was accompanied to the centre by her men, who were unarmed after learning of people being bused to the registration centre by the NDC parliamentary candidate.
She narrated that she witnessed intimidating scenes at the polling station, with some motorbikes making furious turns around the centre. She believes it was men recruited by Ms Koryoo to cause fear.
“It was my gun. I fired my own warning shot,” She told Adom News. “I realised that my peoples’ lives were in danger. I wanted to scare them”.
According to eyewitnesses account, at least 15 men stormed the venue and tried to sack some applicants, suspected to have come from outside the region.
Some motorbikes at the venue were seized and burnt. Four people have so far been arrested.
There is no problem possessing a licensed gun
Speaking to Okay FM, John Boadu was hesitant in condemning the actions of the NPP MP, Hawa Koomson as an act of vigilantism.
“What is vigilantism about this? Even me, I’m not a government official. I can’t go and pick a police officer as my security. How many policemen are in Ghana? So I’ll use the youth in my party as my security. So if I’m coming, and there are about two or three young men with me, is that vigilantism?” he asked the host.
When asked if the wielding of guns did not contribute to acts of vigilantism, Mr. Boadu justified it saying they sometimes travel at night and will need to protect themselves against armed robbers.
“My personal security will have a licensed gun. Because we travel at night…We travel deep in the night and you will need security. In this era where armed robbers mount roadblocks at night, can you just travel without protecting yourself? It is legal for anyone to have a licensed gun. There is no problem with that?” he asked.
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