As Gov’t Wants Closed Door Proceedings At Inquiry
Some members of the armed thugs, who took part in the La Bawaleshie shooting incident during the by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, causing serious injuries to some 16 people, are on the blind side of Ghanaians, being aided to flee the country ahead of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.
Insider information available to The Herald, indicates that one of the leaders of the thugs, Bismarck Kwadwo Antwi, who was seen with AK47 during the gun violence, last week applied to the United States embassy for a visa, which will enable him leave Ghana, and avoid being dragged before the Commission.
The presidential inquiry, has been instituted to unravel the circumstances that led to the so-called national security thugs, shooting unarmed NDC members and left many of them injured. It is, however, unclear if the proceedings of the inquiry is going to be made public or held in camera and suffer issues of mistrust.
The Minister of State in-charge of National Security, Bryan Acheampong, has owned up to the deployment of the masked armed men, saying he did that upon a tipoff that some people had carried weapons and ammunition into the Constituency to foment trouble during the by-election.
This has been disputed with the suggestion there were police officers on the ground to effect an arrest, and the deployment of armed masked men to the by-election wearing National Security Council (NSC) polo shirts.
This was the first time a shirt of this kind was seen and officials of the NSC, have said they had not seen it before until the violence at the by-election.
Bismarck who was captured on camera carrying a gun, attended an interview at the US embassy and barring any last minute changes, he will be on his way out of the shores of the country.
The three-member Commission of Inquiry is headed by former boss of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Francis Emile Short, as Chairman.
It has Prof. Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, a law professor of international repute; and a former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Patrick Acheampong as members and aformer Dean of the Faculty of Law of GIMPA and private legal practitioner, Ernest Kofi Abotsi as the secretary.
Bismarck is said to be a well-known member of the group and was seen carrying and shooting at the people during the by election, and his bosses are desperately doing everything in their power,to fly him out so that he will escape subpoena from the Commission.
Two others, whose names are not readily available, are also being aided by political figures to also leave the country for the same reason. They are also being assisted to apply to other embassies for visas and in the event that they are successful, they will fly out to avoid possible prosecution in future.
The Herald sources say the rest of the thugs, who have been identified, but have no biometric passports, are waiting as their passports are being processed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Extensive Police investigation into the Ayawaso gun violence has gone very far or is nearing completion ahead of the Presidential Commission, sources within the Service have said
The Police have allegedly identified and gotten names of all their officers caught in videos that were circulated in the media. They have also identified the hooded men, reason they are leaving the country one after the other.
Meanwhile, last Friday, Vice President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, assured the Commission of government’s continuous support in unraveling the truth behind the disturbances.
According to him, government remains resolute in assisting the commission to work fairly, adding that all logistics and resources needed by the Commission, will be provided.
Speaking at the swearing-in of members of the commission, Dr. Bawumia, tasked Justice Emile Short and his team to go on their duties without fear and favour.
He also vouched for the credibility and integrity of the members of the commission adding that the integrity of the members has never been in doubt in the public domain.
Dr. Bawumia, subsequently congratulated them and thanked them on behalf of the government for accepting to serve the nation.
“As you are all aware the President of the Republic, Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo decided that in the interest of the public, this commission of inquiry into the incidents that occurred during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election be stepped up so that they would undertake a full…and impartial inquiry into those circumstances. Of course in doing this, the President had to look for people of impeccable integrity. I don’t think anyone can question the integrity of the people who are here constituting the commission.”
“We know that the terms of reference says you should complete this work in a month and that is why we are quickly getting on the move. All the necessary arrangements and logistics, will be provided to make sure your work proceeds impartially and without any inhibitions… So I congratulate you and wish you the very best. I thank you very much. It is national service you are doing and the nation is grateful,” Bawumia added.
Justice Short on his part, also expressed the Commission’s appreciation to government for the confidence reposed in them.
In his remarks, he described the work of the Commission as an important national assignment in the interest of the country, adding that the work of the Commission, will be an important step in disbanding political vigilantism, as well as ending political violence.
He also assured the public, that the Commission would work in a transparent and objective manner to unravel the truth behind the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence.
“We would like to express our appreciation to the President and to you for giving us this opportunity to serve the nation. We consider this to be a very important assignment in the national interest. I will also like to express my appreciation to the words of confidence you have expressed in us particularly your statement that we have been selected because we are considered to be men and women of integrity.”
“We will like to assure all and sundry that we will carry our mandate transparently and objectively. We will like to urge all and sundry to give us all the support we need to find credible and lasting solutions to the phenomenon of electoral violence and political vigilantism,” Justice Emile Short noted.
The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, had hinted that aspects of the sittings of the Justice Emile Short Commission of Inquiry, may be opened to the general public and the media.
He also noted that the final report of the commission will be made available to the public.
The Minister made the disclosure on Eyewitness News last Thursday.
A security analyst, Adam Bonaa, had earlier called on the government to show the Commission’s sittings on live TV.
To him, the move will ensure the credibility of the process and its final outcome.
“Let us have an open house inquiry where the media will be invited so we view this on live TV so that we following sitting-by-sitting how this will go just so that that in 2020, we will all be assured that we have learnt lessons and those who do this will be punished and those who are planning to do same, will know that they will be shamed and punished,” he said in a Citi News interview.