General News of Sunday, 10 February 2019
Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has described as “historic” the three-member Commission of Inquiry he swore in on Friday, 8 January 2019, to investigate the circumstances that led to violence at the recently-held by-election at Ayawaso West Wuogon in the Greater Accra Region.
Heavily-built balaclava-wearing National Security operatives opened fire on some members of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) about an hour into the by-election, at the private residence of the party’s parliamentary candidate at La-Bawaleshie.
Sixteen people have were injured, according to the police. Also, an opposition MP, Mr Sam Nartey George, was slapped and assaulted by the security operatives.
At a brief ceremony at the Jubilee House, Dr Bawumia swore in Justice Emile Short, a former head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Prof. Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, a law professor and member of the United Nations Independent Panel On Peace Operations; and Prof Kofi Abotsi, a former Dean of the GIMPA Law School.
Mr Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong, a former Inspector General of Police, who is a member of the Commission, was out of Accra as of the time of the swearing-in ceremony.
The Commission, chaired by Justice Emile Short, has been mandated:
(a) to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to, the events and associated violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon By-Election on the 31st day of January 2019;
(b) to identify any person responsible for or who has been involved in the events, associated violence and injuries;
(c) to inquire into any matter which the Commission considers incidental or reasonably related to the causes of the events and the associated violence and injuries; and
(d) to submit within one month its report to the President giving reasons for its findings and recommendations, including appropriate sanctions, if any.”
Speaking after the swearing-in, Dr Bawumia said this was the first such commission to investigate electoral violence in Ghana, and urged members of the Commission to undertake this important national service with dedication.
“We’ve had incidents of violence at by-elections in the past, whether you’re talking about Talensi, Chereponi, Atiwa. But I think this is the first time any government has set up a Commission of Enquiry to get to the bottom of it. This is historic, and it shows a difference in looking out for transparency, and to be able to deal with this issue fundamentally so that for the future, it bodes well for our country.”
The government, the vice-president said, would provide the necessary logistical and other resources to aid the Commission to undertake the Inquiry in the stipulated time.
Speaking on behalf of the other members of the Commission, Justice Emile Short expressed gratitude to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the opportunity to serve the nation “on this extremely important assignment of national interest.”
Justice Short pledged that the Commission would undertake its mandate in a “transparent, fair and objective manner”, and appealed for cooperation as they seek to identify the root causes of electoral violence and recommend credible and lasting solutions.