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Is Colonel Joe Punamane the brain behind the invasion of Parliament by armed military men?

Members of Parliament’s Appointment Committee were alarmed when National Security Minister-designate, Albert Kan-Dapaah, confessed before the committee that the invasion of the chamber of parliament by some military men on the night of the election of the Speaker of the eighth Parliament was not sanctioned by government officials.

Kan-Dapaah told the vetting committee that neither he nor any appointee of the government gave an order to the military to storm the floor of parliament.

Instead, he revealed that a military commander who was concerned with the development in the house led his men into the house with the sole aim of restoring calm.

A day later, Dominic Nitiwul, the Defence Minister-nominee took his turn at the committee and was asked the same question.

In response to a question by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Okudzeto Ablakwa, Mr Nitiwul said at that particular time, he did not have the power and capacity to control personnel from the Ghana Armed Forces.

“I was sitting over there in the Chamber with Mr Murtala and the independent candidate and I did not go to any place; I only went out to pass water and came back. I never went to any place to move anybody,” he stressed.

Unconvinced by the answer, Okudzeto probed further and sought the identity of the commander who led the military into the chamber.

Ablakwa Do you know Colonel Joe Punamane?

Nitiwul Yes, I do.

Ablakwa Who is he?

Nitiwul He is a military colonel in the Armed Forces.

Ablakwa Was he the head of the presidential military guard who led the team here?

Nitiwul I would advise strongly that unless it is absolutely necessary, it will be very wrong to be mentioning the names of commanders and their actions and inactions because I stay directly with them.

While investigations continue into the case, renowned pollster, Ben Ephson has praised the commander for intervening in the incident.

“This is obviously a strange thing when you have soldiers going into parliamentary chambers for whatever reason. When I saw it, I was also alarmed, my colleagues were alarmed, all of us in government were alarmed that something like that has happened. So I did take the trouble to find out how it happened.”

“Somebody, a commander, in his opinion, thought that things were getting out of hand in the chamber and that they needed to go there to try to restore order.”

Ben Ephson’s position has been condemned by some leading members of the NDC including the MP for Ningo-Prampram, Sam George.

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