The Herald, has cited a list of names, comprising politicians, businessmen, a pastor, judges and other state officials, who have been assigned military men as their bodyguards.
The list, reveals the phenomenon is not new to the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), but perhaps the most shocking part of the list, is the name of Head of Pastor of the Action Chapel International, Archbishop Duncan Williams, who is included in the list as one of the beneficiaries of the military protection.
Businessman, Daniel Mc Korley, chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mc Dan Group of Companies, is mentioned as also assigned the military guards.
One Real Estate developer, Otumfour, said to be the owner of Mayfair Estate, is also mentioned as getting a military protection.
The clergyman was mentioned to have six military officers with him serving as his bodyguards, house guards and church guards, however, the four soldiers allocated to the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has been withdrawn.
Two of the six, are constantly with him wherever he goes, while the rest four, are said to be evenly stationed in his home and workplace; the church, respectively.
The Herald’s information is that, Duncan Williams’ military detachment was drawn from 5th Battalion of Infantry
Other state officials on the list are; the Electoral Commission’s Chairperson, Jane Mensah, said to have 10 soldiers.
The Deputy Chairman in charge of Corporate, Bossman Eric Asare, has five soldiers guarding him, while the Deputy Chairman in charge of operations, Samuel Tettey, also has five soldiers protecting him.
The Chief justice, Justice Anin Yeboah, has four soldiers. Aside the Chief Justice, the other justices of the Supreme Court numbering 10, were also mentioned to have two each.
Godfred Yeboah Dame, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, has been assigned three soldiers. He had been seen many times in town with a military man as his bodyguard. The revelation means that he has more men assigned to him than earlier thought.
One Matthew Amponsah of the Attorney General’s Department, is mentioned as having a bodyguard from the Military Police assigned him by name Attah.
William Kissi Agyaben, the Special Prosecutor, has a number of the soldiers said to have been assigned him by the 64th Battalion of Infantry.
The Minister of National Security, Albert Kan Dapaah, has six of the soldiers with him too as bodyguards.
Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, has three of the soldiers, while Madam Akosua Frema Opare, the Chief of staff, has four.
Interestingly, the Majority caucus in Parliament has refuted suggestions that the withdrawal of four soldiers attached to Alban Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament, was politically motivated.
In a statement, the Majority, , Alban Bagbin, has benefited from the “largest number of security personnel for his protection than none of the previous Speakers had.”
“He has four police officers in his known residence. He has three police officers in his secretariat, and he has five other policemen in and around the Speaker’s office block any day, any time,” the statement said.
“This has not been a regular feature in Parliamentary Security considerations,” the statement added.
The Majority, also said it saw no problem with the military attempting to regularise the military security detail.
“In the event, if the military insists on regularising his security detail, how does that compromise the Speaker’s security, or put him in harm’s way as the Speaker himself has stated?”
The Chief of Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces’ letter to Parliament, said the four officers were attached without proper procedure.
The officers, WO1 Jafaru Bunwura, WOII Apugiba Awine David, S/Sgt Agbley Prosper and Sgt. Bonney Prince, have been serving Bagbin’s office since he became Speaker in January 2021.
The Majority, further rubbished claims that the withdrawal of the military personnel was an attempt to gag Mr Bagbin, saying “Speakers are supposed to be neutral umpires or referees in Parliament. They are supposed to listen to Members in silence and not participate in debates. They make rulings when called upon to do so by Members.”
“The rulings must conform to the Rules of Procedure of the House, otherwise referred to as Standing Orders. In that regard, the Speakers lose their persona whilst presiding. Therefore, what voice does the Speaker have that is being muted or gagged?”
The Majority, further challenged the Minority to provide proof that the withdrawal of soldiers was politically motivated.
“The people of Ghana know better and certainly can make the distinction between truth and sheer propaganda,” their statement concluded.
But the Minority caucus in parliament, insists the decision by the military high command to withdraw soldiers providing security services to the Office of the Speaker, was politically motivated.
According to the caucus, the Akufo-Addo government, would be held responsible should anything untoward befall the Speaker.
The caucus in a statement signed by its leader, Haruna Iddrissu, said it is saddened and strongly denounces the development.
It said it believes that the soldiers’ attachment to the Office of the Speaker of Parliament could have been regularized without withdrawing them assuming the claim that it did not follow due procedure was true.
“The Minority in Parliament is saddened and strongly denounce the withdrawal by President Akufo-Addo’s government of the military detail attached to the office of the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin with effect from the 14th January, 2022… If the action of the military high command is in good faith, the irregularity in relation to the attachment could be rectified without necessarily having to withdraw the personnel,” it said.
“The minority is certain that the action of the military high command relative to the withdrawal of Mr Speaker’s security detail is politically motivated… The minority shall hold the government of President AkufoAddo responsible should the security of Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin , the Speaker of Parliament be compromised in any way,” it added.
A recent letter from the Chief of Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, NP Andoh to the Speaker said the four officers were attached ‘without proper procedure.’
“It is humbly requested that the personnel are withdrawn with effect from 14 January 2022 while efforts are made to regularize their attachment,” the letter stated.
The news has been received with shock with the Office of the Speaker of Parliament questioning the motive behind the withdrawal of the soldiers.
The office described the move as an attempt to strip the Speaker of protection and believes such is untenable and sets a bad precedent.
The Ministry of National Security has also said despite the withdrawal, Alban Bagbin, still has security protection and soldiers are deployed to provide such services on need basis.
But the minority is against the move.
It expressed surprise at the development given that the Clerk to Parliament had written formally to request the personnel and the officers were duly deployed to be attached to the Office of the Speaker of Parliament, serving the office since January 2021.