The opposition National Democratic Congress says it will not take part in the proceedings of the Emile Short Commission despite the fact that it was adversely affected.
The party will not, however, discourage its individual members, especially the victims of the atrocities, from testifying before the Commission or in any other way or form in assisting the Commission to do its work.
In a press release signed by the party’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, Thursday, the party said the “the establishment of the Commission was an after-thought triggered by the widespread public condemnation of the barbaric acts of violence committed by these hoodlums affiliated to the New Patriotic Party (NPP).”
“…we are gravely concerned about the motives behind the setting up of this particular Commission for the following well-considered reasons,” the NDC said.
Citing some of the reasons, Mr Nketia argued that the identity of the persons who unleashed the acts of violence on people are known and a Commission is not needed to bring them to book.
Also, the party said, “we would have thought that the Police would have been allowed to complete its investigations before a public inquiry of the nature to be undertaken by the Commission took place.”
Further, the NDC said it is aware that the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry is the government’s attempt to try to shield its party-affiliated hoodlums from criminal accountability.
Read the NDC’s statement below:
NDC ON ESTABLISHMENT OF A COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO AYAWASO WEST WUOGON BY-ELECTION VIOLENCE
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has noted with concern the decision of President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akuffo Addo, to establish a Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the events that occurred in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency during the by-election held on January 31, 2019.
Given the time lag between the occurrence of the unlawful acts of violence unleashed by elements of the President’s party, the NPP, masquerading as National Security Operatives, we are firm in our belief that the establishment of the Commission was an after-thought triggered by the widespread public condemnation of the barbaric acts of violence committed by these hoodlums affiliated to the New Patriotic Party.
The National Democratic Congress considers that a fundamental obligation of the Government is the protection of our citizens from violations of their basic human rights, including their rights to the integrity of their person and to security. We believe the President and his Government failed and or neglected to fulfil this fundamental obligation when they allowed, indeed encouraged, persons known to be affiliated to their party, the New Patriotic Party, to brazenly engage in the unlawful and excessive use of force to violate the fundamental rights of citizens. We are deeply concerned about the incipient threat that this poses to the democratic order established by the Constitution.
Be that as it may, we concede the power of the President to set up the Commission of Inquiry into matters of public interest under the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. Indeed, the recital to the Constitutional Instrument establishing the Commission (CI 111) states emphatically that the President is “satisfied that it is in the public interest” that the Commission be set up. We have carefully reviewed and considered the terms of reference of the Commission stated in Clause 3 of the CI 111. The Commission, among others, is to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances resulting in the barbaric acts that took place during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election and to identify the persons responsible for the acts of lawlessness. Whilst the NDC deems it necessary that prompt, open and impartial investigation be conducted into the matters that occurred in Ayawaso West Wuogon in the course of the by-election, we are gravely concerned about the motives behind the setting up of this particular Commission for the following well-considered reasons.
First of all, the identity of the persons who unleashed the acts of violence on innocent citizens during the by-election is an open secret. Their identities have been well-documented in both social and mainstream media. Also, the Minister of State Responsible for National Security at the Presidency, Bryan Acheampong, has admitted publicly that they were deployed by his outfit to conduct the illegal operation that resulted in the barbaric and condemnable acts of violence. Certainly, Hon. Bryan Acheampong knows the identities of the persons he deployed on that fateful day for the operation and could easily have been contacted by law enforcement agencies for their identities. In short, we do not need an entire commission of inquiry to identify those who were involved in this illegal and unconstitutional operation. Furthermore, the public utterances of Bryan Acheampong leave no doubt that the hoodlums acted with the authorization, acquiescence and complicity of the National Security outfit and it is pointless setting up a Commission to inquire into their identity. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that the vehicles that were used to carry the hoodlums to Ayawaso West Wuogon were police vehicles driven by known and identifiable police officers.
Secondly, we are aware that under extreme public pressure, the Police have begun investigations into the criminal aspects of the events that occurred on January 31, 2019 at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election. As the foremost constitutional body responsible for law enforcement in this country, we would have thought that the Police would have been allowed to complete its investigations before a public inquiry of the nature to be undertaken by the Commission took place. We take the view that the current approach will inevitably compromise the investigations of the Police by pre-empting the outcome of such investigations. Moreover, it is strange that for matters of this nature that are purely criminal, the Government is diverting attention away from Police investigations that are underway and rather focusing on setting up a commission of inquiry.
Thirdly, the NDC is also aware that the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry is the government’s attempt to try to shield its party-affiliated hoodlums from criminal accountability. The Government is labouring under the assumption that setting up a commission of inquiry immunizes these criminal elements from criminal prosecution because of the decision of the High Court in the Ghana@50 case. We are deeply concerned that this development will further entrench the irredeemable consequences of this bad legal precedent on our democracy. Commissions of inquiry should never be used as mechanisms to shield criminals from prosecution and we believe this Commission of Inquiry should not be different in this respect. But unfortunately, we have no reason to believe that the Government intends a different outcome in setting up this particular Commission.
In the circumstances, the NDC as a party (i.e. as a corporate entity) is serving notice that it will not take part in the proceedings of the Commission despite the fact that it was adversely affected by the actions of the state-sponsored criminal hoodlums. The NDC will not, however, discourage its individual members, including especially the victims of the illegal atrocities from testifying before the Commission or in any other way or form assisting the Commission to do its work.
Cde. Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah General Secretary – NDC