NDC Press Conference
PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE RECENT POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN TAMALE AND GUSHIEGU
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, we are very pleased to have you here this morning. Today’s briefing will centre on the violence in Gushiegu and Tamale and also look at some developments on the political scene. You’ll recall the unfortunate news items that hit the National Air Waves on 31 st August, 2008 about the outbreak of disturbances in Tamale and Gushiegu in the Northern Region. Even though, initial reports suggested the involvement of some functionaries of the NDC, we chose not to react officially until the full facts were known to the Party. Consequently, on the 5 th of September, 2008, a high powered fact finding Team under the chairmanship of Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu left Accra to: -
i. Visit the affected areas namely Tamale and Gushiegu to assess the extent of damage to life and property and threat to general security of the area
ii. To empathize with the affected persons iii. Submit a detailed report to the Party.
Members of the delegation included: - 1. Alhaji Huudu Yahaya - National Vice Chairman 2. Hon. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah - General Secretary 3. Hon. Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni - Running Mate to Prof. Mill in 2004 elections 4. Hon. Inusah Fuseini - MP for Tamale Central 5. Hon. Haruna Iddrisu - MP for Tamale South and National Youth Organizer 6. Alhaji Awudu Ariff - Deputy National Organizer 7. Hajia Laadi Ayi Ayamba - Deputy National Propaganda Secretary 8. Capt.(rtd) Cudjoe - Tema West Constituency Chairman 9. WO Bawah – NDC Headquarters Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, we had the first shock, when on our way to Tamale some members of our Team were subjected to thorough searches by Police personnel at Buipe and Yapei. They suspected our team of carrying Arms. This necessitated a bus load of fully armed Policemen dispatched to Buipe and Yapei for the search. Ladies and Gentlemen, the team started work on the morning of September 6, 2008. We paid courtesy calls on the Regional Police Command and the Regional Minister to acquaint them on the purpose of the visit. The team’s work started with investigation of the Tamale incidence. The team found out that, on Sunday31 st August 2008between 5.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. the NPP were in convoy with their running mate Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia to the Jubilee Park for an intended rally. When the convoy got close to the Jubilee Park, they saw some motor bikes parked by worshipers at a mosque. They picked three motorbikes, tore down a large NDC banner of the flagbearer, Prof. Mills hanged by NDC Youth at their pavilion, and burnt all of the items on the main road to the Tamale Teaching Hospital. The Team visited the scenes of the incidents. Interestingly, the thugs used it as means to burn down our regional office. All these happened in the glare of the Police. At about 12:00 noon, the team set off for Gushegu through Yendi and Kpatinga and arrived in Gushiegu at about 2:00 p.m. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, What we saw in Gushiegu was a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. To say the least, Gushegu can best be described as a ghost town. The Gushiegu attack began from Kpatinga, a few kilometres away from Gushiegu where NDC had gone for a rally after a proper notification to the Police in accordance with the Public Order Act. Upon arrival of the NDC leadership at the rally grounds, they noticed that the NPP was also mobilising to hold another political activity close to the NDC grounds. The NDC leadership persuaded the NPP leadership to cancel their activity for fear of possible clash. The NPP leadership declined and proceeded with their rally. The District BNI Officer for Gushiegu also issued similar caution to the NPP leadership but was also ignored. In the course of the NDC rally, the NPP activists started throwing stones into the NDC crowd and in the process, a young girl was injured.
She started bleeding profusely and was rushed to the Gushiegu health centre for treatment. She was denied the treatment as a result of the instruction from the DCE that the facility was not built by the NDC. The NDC stopped their rally and returned to Gushiegu. At the Chairman’s house, while still dancing and making merry, the NPP started hurling stones at them. The Chairman dispersed the group to go home. The following morning, there was attack on NDC houses, amidst burning and firing by organised NPP group. Later in the night, the lights of Gushiegu town went off and residents heard the arrival of vehicles into the town and for fear of their lives no one came out. They woke up the following morning only to discover to their utter disbelief that 11 stores had been broken into, looted and burnt. All together, forty-two (42) houses and eleven (11) stores at the Gushiegu market by our count were burnt down. Ladies and Gentlemen, what is more interesting and curious is that the burnt 42 houses and the 11 stores in Gushiegu all belonged to only members and sympathizers of the NDC. The Gushiegu Constituency Chairman of our party and the Treasurer suffered terribly under the attack.
The Team visited the residence of the NDC Chairman where all his three houses, adjoining one another were burnt. The following items were also burnt at his residence: i. 4 long Transport Buses ii. 2 long Cargo Trucks iii. 1 Tractor iv. 1 Brand new Nissan Patrol The attackers did not allow the occupants to save any property from the houses. Eye witness account indicated that, the marauding attackers first shot their way into the bedroom of the chairman and took custody of three large metal boxes containing large sums of monies from the chairman’s daily transport business as there are no banks in Gusheigu. These boxes were broken into and the large sums of money looted before all three houses were set ablaze. No property belonging to the chairman, his wives, his numerous children or any member of his household could be saved as the attackers threatened to shoot their victims should they dare to retrieve any of their belongings. When the Chairman was attacked, one of the wives run to the DCE who was present, knelt down on her knees and begged with her hand together to stop these marauding attackers who were wielding guns of all sorts including AK 47, pump action, G3 Riffles and petrol to stop them from burning their houses. She pleaded if the houses were burnt down they would had no place to lay their heads but her plea went unheeded as the DCE replied her that he could not stop the attackers. The wives of the chairman who deal in foodstuffs lost millions of cedis as a result of destruction of their stored food items. One week after the attack, fire could still be seen smouldering in the chairman’s residence when the team arrived. Ladies and Gentlemen, a scrap dealer who was in the chairman’s house was killed in cold blood. He was not a resident of Gushiegu, and was there to buy metal scrap. Eye witness account indicated that the poor scrap dealer who did not speak the native language Dagbani, pleaded in Hausa for his life with his murderers when they aimed their gun at him. They killed him on the flimsy excuse that he was the juju man of the Chairman. His plea did not touch the hearts of his murderers and he was short at several times. When he was found to have survived the barrage of bullets, he was dragged outside; petrol poured on him and set ablaze. Fellow Ghanaians, the attackers proceeded from the chairman’s residence to the house of an 80 yr old Sub-chief, the ‘Nahaungu-Iana’. When they got to the house, they clubbed him to death, after which they broke his arms and several shots fired at the corpse. The limp and blood dripping corpse was carried and dumped on a large heap of freshly harvested corn in the house. [Here is a sample of the blood stained corn]. A third person, who was killed by these attackers, is called Ayuba. Ayuba was a young man, slightly over 30 years, a footballer and a trader, married with a teenage daughter. He was said to be of calm disposition, pleasant personality, a law abiding citizen and a renowned NDC activist. He lived in a large compound house in which he was the only NDC member. Ayabu was attacked, dragged outside from his room,shot and together with his motorbike set ablaze. Mr. Ayuba is survived by a wife and his beautiful teenage daughter. Ladies and Gentlemen, not satisfied with the extent of their callous and criminal acts, the attackers now went about the town of Gushiegu, identifying houses of other members and sympathisers of NDC and set them ablaze. All this while, the police did not come to the aid of the victims. They intervened
after all the burning had taken place. Surprisingly, Gushiegu has a district Police Command.
OBSERVATION COUNT The unjustified assault on the Peaceful citizens of Gushiegu and the looting and burning down of houses and stores by these criminals can only be described as an attack on innocent people. This was not a conflict. It was an attack on innocent law abiding citizens. The look warm attitude by Police and the slowness with which they responded to the call of the victims raises concerns of National Security. The reports indicated that the Police rather moved to protect houses of known NPP persons in Gushiegu. A week after the attack at Gushiegu, NADMO has since failed to visit the victims to assess the extent of damage let alone provide them with the needed relief items. The murder suspects who were named during the team’s visit were seen moving about freely.
Distinguished members of the Press, Having provided you with an account of the situation as it is in Tamale and Gushiegu, we will now comment on some developments on our Political Scene that further undermine the Security and Stability of the electoral process and the country as a whole. The assault on Prof Mills’ body guard Emmanuel Hussey by President Kufour’s security men is a worrying development in our National Politics. It is unacceptable and totally unnecessary. The National Security operatives at the durbar should have established the ground rules and communicated accordingly to Prof. Mills’s security team in an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence. Destruction of NDC bill boards and posters is on the increase across the country. Recently, in Assin North and Cape Coast Constituencies in the Central Region, Bill Boards erected by the NDC were pulled down and our officials chased out. Distinguished members of the press, we have traced these negative activities to the door steps of the New Patriotic Party. Their actions are not helping the political process and the democratic journey we have embarked upon. CONCLUSION DEMAND We demand a thorough investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the attacks. We further demand that, all the recent attacks on life and property in Tamale and Gushiegu be treated as purely criminal acts. It should not be swept under the carpet as a mere political matter. We urge the Police service and indeed all security agencies of the state to intensify their intelligence led operations to avoid such situations in the future. We call on the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) to as a matter of urgency move to Gushiegu to assess the impact of the damage and provide the needed relief. Victims of the attack are now destitutes. We call on all Peace loving people of Ghana to make a commitment towards a peaceful election. We call on the diplomatic missions and human rights organisations to travel to Gushiegu and Tamale to ascertain these facts for themselves. We call on the good people of our beloved country, Ghana to demand the rationale behind this unwarranted assault on our supporters and properties. The National DemocraticCongress will like to re-affirm its commitment to peaceful, free and fair elections. Thank you and God bless you. 11 th September, 2008