Voters Registration: Military Shifts Blame On Ethnic Discrimination

President Akufo-Addo and CDS Lt. Gen. Akwah President Akufo-Addo and CDS Lt. Gen. Akwah

The top brass of the military, have been caught shifting blame over the role of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) in the ongoing voters' registration exercise by the Electoral Commission (EC) in the Banda District of the Bono Region, which has sparked accusation of discrimination against Ewes and non-Akans in some of the communities.

The Adontenhene of Bongase Community in the Banda District, Nana Issah Yakubu, had in a video which has gone viral, angrily criticized the deployment of military personnel into the community accusing the soldiers of harassment and intimidation of residents participating in the registration exercise.

But in a response to the accusations, some of which had come from the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) ex-President John Dramani Mahama and NDC General Secretary, John Asiedu-Nketiah over the weekend, the military in a statement released on Monday morning, August 3, 2020, said "the REGSEC and the Electoral Commission and other stakeholders should meet the Chiefs to determine the boundaries of Banda".

The GAF statement signed by the Director of the Public Relations Directorate, Colonel Emmanuel Aggrey-Quashie explained that, "following the reported allegation of registration restrictions being placed on a section of the community in the Banda area by the military, it has become necessary to situate the issue in context and set the record straight".

It added that "the Military wishes to state that on 30th July 2020, the Bono Regional Security Council met representatives of the two main political parties – NPP and NDC – to deliberate on the peaceful conduct of the registration exercise. This was in the wake of the disturbances that resulted in the unfortunate demise of one person".

The military said an "Agreement signed by Mr. Joe Danquah (NPP) and Hon Ahmed Ibrahim (NDC MP - Banda) and witnessed by the Hon Regional Minister stated as follows: "We the undersigned agreed today to maintain peace in the Banda District during the remaining days of the voters registration exercise and after, until the end of the 2020 General Elections in December 2020."

Details of the Agreement were "that the REGSEC will give the necessary security to the Banda Constituency and the entire Region, before, during and after the process of the 7th December Election. The REGSEC and the Electoral Commission and other stakeholders should meet the Chiefs to determine the boundaries of Banda", the statement said.

It stated that "the two Parliamentary Candidates (Mr. Joe Danquah and Hon. Ahmed Ibrahim MP) should stop bussing people to the registration centres, if indeed they were ordinary residents; they should go there on their own volition. Political parties should educate their agents at the registration centres to fill challenge forms in challenging people whose citizenship or residency they doubted".

"That no physical violence should be used in preventing people from registering. That the two candidates should pledge their support to ensure peace in the Constituency by signing the Peace Agreement offered by REGSEC".

"The security agencies were therefore available to support the REGSEC-brokered Agreement. No specific ethnic group was targeted in this regard. The general public is accordingly informed of these developments".

The videos circulating on social media show a number of military personnel questioning registrants at a particular registration centre, while preventing many from registering and the Adontenhene, Nana Yakubu said "since the commencement of the voter registration exercise, soldiers have taken over our town. Some of them have canes with them. The soldiers are intimidating young people here."

Nana Yakubu, also noted that these happenings were preventing some fisherfolk of Ewe extraction who have lived in the area since 1919 and even recognized by the traditional authorities with a stool in the palace, from participating in the on-going registration exercise in the community thus generating tension in the town.

The chief, made the comment when the NDC General Secretary, Mr Asiedu Nketia, visited the area.

The NDC flagbearer, who also spoke about the military presence in the area and made reference to the video from Banda condemned what he called the "discriminatory" use of military personnel by President Akufo-Addo to disenfranchise some Ghanaians.

Mr. Mahama's remark came on the back of the report that some military personnel were intimidating and preventing Ewes and non-Akans in the Banda area from taking part in the ongoing voter registration exercise.

Same Ewes at Banda suspected by the NPP to be supporters of the NDC, had had their homes razed down and burnt by some NPP elements linked the Bono Regional Chairman of the NPP, Kwame Baffoe alias Abronye DC and the NPP's 2020 Parliamentary candidate, Joe Danquah.

In a post on his Facebook page, Mr Mahama described the actions of the government as dangerous.

"The road President Akufo-Addo is taking our beautiful country through, using the military and party thugs to stop people from exercising their right to register and vote in the upcoming December elections, is dangerous and unacceptable."

"Executive power must not be used to foment ethnic discrimination and abuse as is happening under Nana Akufo-Addo. These calculated acts of "dehumanisation, disenfranchising Ghanaians and stripping them of their citizenship" must end.

They will surely never happen under a new NDC administration because we will foster a spirit of peace and unity in our nation."

However, he observed, "The road President Akufo-Addo is taking our beautiful country through, using the military and party thugs to stop people from exercising their right to register and vote in the upcoming December elections, is dangerous and unacceptable".

He promised: "They will surely never happen under a new NDC administration because we will foster a spirit of peace and unity in our nation".

As Commander-in-Chief, Mr Mahama, pledged, "I will not use our military in such a partisan manner to terrorize our own people, and in matters that are purely civil and dwell in the very heart of our constitutional democracy".

Meanwhile, Mr Asiedu Nketia, has clashed with military personnel stationed at Banda in the Bono Region over the soldiers' refusal to allow some residents to register in the ongoing voters' registration exercise.

In Another video also in circulation, the NDC General Secretary is seen angrily exchanging words with the soldiers who had blocked the road to stop busloads of people from accessing registration centres.

He accused the military of ethnic profiling saying the soldiers were also helping thugs linked to NPP to prevent people from registering to vote.

The Adontenhene of Bongase Community, had explained that EC registration officials could not cross the Volta lake to go register the residence, hence the people decided to crossover and register but were being intimidated and prevented by the soldiers and the NPP thugs receiving protection from the soldiers on the basis that they're foreigners being bused from border towns into Ghana.

Source: The Herald