Mavis Hawa Koomson
The firing of a weapon at a voters’ registration centre by the Minister for Special Development Initiatives, Mavis Hawa Koomson, has started fresh brawl between the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Awutu Senya East Constituency in the Central Region yesterday admitted that she fired shots at the Steps to Christ Voters Registration Centre and claimed it was in self-defence.
Her admission comes on the heels of the story about the firing of shots at the registration centre and subsequent arrest of four persons in connection with the incident.
The Central Regional Police Command confirmed yesterday that they had invited the minister for questioning over the gunshot.
The Regional Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Oppong, confirmed the invitation and said that even though four people had been arrested in connection with the chaos, the police were still looking for other suspects.
“We have invited Hawa Koomson to help with investigation. It was not only the four people who committed the crime; we are looking for other suspects to arrest,” she said.
The police officer added that “we are warning people that if you do not have anything doing at Kasoa, please do not go to the registration centre. As of yesterday, the security at Kasoa had been beefed up from the Central Regional Command.”
Fifteen persons were reported to have descended upon the registration centre with the intention of stopping the process, which they succeeded in doing anyway, because officials the Electoral Commission (EC) engaged in the exercise stopped work and did not even oblige the request of the police to resume, saying they were awaiting directives from their regional office in Cape Coast.
The MP, nonetheless, said on radio yesterday that “none of my men had guns on them when we got to the centre. I fired the shots myself.”
She said she had no police escort and so had to protect herself.
Her movement to the location, she went on, was because she heard that her opponent, the NDC’s candidate, Naa Koryor Okunor, had bussed her supporters to the place, a claim corroborated by the NPP in the constituency.
“I am a Member of Parliament; I need to protect myself. It was at dawn, and my police escort had not started work yet. So that is a mechanism I adopted in his absence,” she said.
Ms. Okunor, on her part, accused her NPP counterpart of being responsible for the confusion.
The NPP Constituency Office then issued a statement, defending Ms. Koomson, claiming that there was an orchestrated project by the NDC to prevent EC officials from undertaking the registration exercise.
The party explained that Ms. Koomson arrived at the centre to find many persons on motorbikes.
Her vehicle was attacked, the party said, and in the event the taillight was smashed. The vehicle, the statement added, was parked at the Kasoa Police Station.
“The Awutu Senya East Constituency of the NPP is not ready to give in to hooligans in the NDC who have vowed to stop the registration process. We call on the NDC leadership to condemn the behaviour of their supporters,” the statement stressed.
In its reaction to the pockets of indiscipline in some registration centres, the EC has taken exception to the developments in a statement.
“The EC has noted with concern some acts of violence at some registration centres across the country in the form of physical and verbal attacks on its officials. The violence is perpetuated by political party supporters and sympathizers,” it noted.
“One of such incidents”, the statement pointed out, “occurred on Monday at the Step to Christ Voters Registration Centre in the Awutu Senya East Constituency in the Central Region.”
The commission condemned the acts of indiscipline and called on the security agencies to investigate the incident as a matter of urgency, and the perpetrators booked.
“These acts constitute a breach of the Vigilante and Related Offences Act, 2019 Act 999. The Act seeks to disband violent activities of political parties and makes political vigilantism an offence punishable by a prison term,” the commission reminded the public.
“Those who sought to challenge the eligibility of applicants”, the commission pointed out, “must fill a Challenge Form, which will then be presented to the District Registration Review Committee for a ruling on the matter. Political party agents are, therefore, cautioned against the use of violence to challenge a person’s eligibility.”
There has been divided opinion on the incident, with some calling for the head of the minister, while others are claiming she did it in self-defence.
The pro-NDC elements want President Akufo-Addo to fire Ms. Koomson immediately but her backers are saying that she must be allowed to work in peace.
By A.R. Gomda