Social Commentator, Sydney Casely believes the way and manner security agencies handled the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election dented the image of the country.
Speaking on The Big Issue on Saturday, Casely Hayford said the way the National Security appeared at the election centre was intimidating and created an impression that they were on a mission to battle with the Islamic State group, ISIS.
“I am appalled and national security should accept that these operatives and masked hoodlums we are talking about sitting in police SWAT cars and patrolling around and doing what they did, were not actually national security operatives. When I looked at them, they were in gears that symbolized that they were going to fight ISIS, with all the paraphernalia to go and stop an attack.”
“We have embarrassed ourselves as a country. The National Security should be ashamed for what they did. Why should they fire warning shot in just a by-election?” he quizzed.
The identities of some masked men and who were said to have foiled chaos during the by-election was not known until the Minister of State in Charge of National Security, Bryan Acheampong disclosed in a Citi News interview that they were security personnel sanctioned by the state.
Before then, the police hierarchy had denied knowledge of who the personnel were.
The masked and armed men were captured on video physically assaulting the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Sam George during a heated altercation.
Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election: Low turnout due to security intimidation – CODEO
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) also wants the government to thoroughly investigate circumstances surrounding the deployment of masked and heavily armed men to various polling stations during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-elections on Thursday.
CODEO believes the presence of the men intimidated many voters and contributed to the very low turnout at the polls.
The independent observer group said it counted as many as 15 of such armed and masked persons at some polling stations during the elections.
The National Coordinator for CODEO, Albert Arhin said the deployment of such personnel to polling stations during elections must not be countenanced.
Mr. Arhin intimated that low turnout at the poll was as a result of the tension created at the various polling stations.
“Did you see the turn out of this election which is 19 percent? Everywhere in this world, you will never have people visiting polling stations where security personnel are seen wearing masks. It is intimidatory and that is what CODEO is saying that this thing should not happen again. Some investigation ought to be done and should never happen again,” he said.
Catholic Bishops call for probe into Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference has added its voice to the numerous condemnations of the violence that marred the beauty of the by-election held on Thursday in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency.
In a statement, they called for a thorough investigation into the matter.
“We, therefore call on the Ghana Police Service and all other relevant security agencies to conduct thorough investigations into the incidents and bring the perpetrators to book.”
The Conference said the incident is a drawback to the successes of Ghana’s democratic gains.
Ayawaso West by-election was peaceful, smooth and orderly – EC
The Electoral Commission (EC), has discounted suggestions that the January 31 by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency was marred by violence.
The EC maintains that the poll was conducted in a peaceful manner.
Chairperson of the Commission, Jean Adukwei Mensa, said the disturbances happened outside the polling stations and cannot be linked to the Electoral Commission.
“The Commission put in place, adequate and efficient security measures to maintain law and order at all polling stations. At the end of the by-election at the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, the Electoral Commission is pleased to announce that the conduct of the polls in all 137 polling stations was peaceful, smooth and orderly.”
“The Electoral Commission staff as well as the security agencies at the polling stations conducted themselves in an orderly and professional manner”, the EC chair insisted.