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The flag bearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr John Mahama has described the alleged Ofosu-Ampofo tape as propaganda crafted by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and accused the government of spying on its opponents to occupy time since it is doing nothing.
Mr Ofosu-Ampofo has been under intense condemnation by the NPP and civil society groups such as the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) following the leakage of an audiotape which captures a male voice purported to be his, urging communicators of the party “to wage a relentless war” against the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Jean Mensa; “insult” the Chairman of the National Peace Council, Rev Prof Emmanuel Asante and use “tactical” means to put fear in some Ghanaians by letting them know that “their lives are in danger” in the lead-up to the 2020 polls.
Though the National Communication Officer of the NDC, Mr Sammy Gyamfi has described the tape as “fake” and “doctored” in an interview with Class91.3FM as well as on various other radio stations, his deputy, Mr Kwaku Boahen, has come out to confirm that the voice, indeed, is that of Mr Ofosu-Ampofo.
Mr Boahen told Accra-based NEAT FM that he and Mr Gyamfi, as well as some other party communicators, were in a meeting with Mr Ofosu-Ampofo when the NDC Chairman made the comments.
The Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service has invited Mr Ofosu-Ampofo for questioning over the matter.
Speaking to party members after a Victory Health Walk on Saturday, 2 March 2019, exactly a week after his election as flag bearer, Mr Mahama told NDC supporters that: “Our opponents are good at propaganda and they will come up from time to time with things to distract us. This issue of a tape is just a distraction. Dismiss it with the contempt it deserves. Let us focus. Our message must be to the Ghanaian people.”
“Let us tell the Ghanaian people what we can do for them and cease the endless arguments with the NPP. It is only a government that has too much time on its hands because it is not working that will have time to go and bug the office of its opponents.”
“We do not have time for that. Let us focus our message and tell Ghanaians what we can do for them. We already have a track record. We have governed this country before and, so, let us focus on the things we can do for Ghanaians to make their lives better and not be distracted by the shenanigans of the NPP party.”
At the same event, Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the NPP “cannot sleep” because they know the NDC has “a Chairman who is a peaceful person, a Chairman who is reconciling his party and bringing his party together in unity to win 2020”.
“Less than three months ago”, he told the crowd of party supporters, “You elected me as the Chairman of the party. Now the NPP has organised a press conference asking me to resign. I want to assure you that I am a man of peace, and my hands are clean. I have been in politics for many years, there’s no evidence I have won my victory through violence or spoken against anybody. I want to remain focused, the NDC wants to remain focused. We will win the election freely, fairly and clearly.
“The NDC believes in the rule of law and we are Democrats. … I want to assure all Ghanaians that the NDC will not kill women to win power, the NDC will not kidnap people to win power, the NDC will not insult to win the power, the NDC will bring a message of hope to Ghanaians”, Mr Ofosu-Ampofo noted.
On his invitation by the CID, the NDC Chairman said: “I want to assure you that the NDC Chairman has not run away from anybody. When we finish thanking God on Sunday, on Monday, our lawyers have informed the CID that the National Chairman of the NDC will come to the CID headquarters to answer any questions that they want. By eight O’clock, we are there and, so, I want to assure them that the peaceful Chairman, the peaceful party will respond to their call even though they first invited us through WhatsApp”.
The government, on Thursday, 28 February 2019, through the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, debunked claims that the Akufo-Addo government was spying on officials of the NDC.
“The government of Ghana, as a matter of policy and practice, does not bug the offices or homes of political parties and their leadership. Indeed, it is not the policy or practice of the government to illegally interfere with the privacy or communication of persons or organisations in Ghana,” Mr Nkrumah said at a press briefing.
The NDC had accused the government of “shameful state-sponsored espionage” thus: “… The NDC is fully aware of evil and wicked plots by certain elements within National Security and government to spy on meetings of its officials, record and, in turn, doctor such recordings for their spiteful ends,” National Communication Officer Mr Sammy Gyamfi stated on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 in the wake of the leaked audiotape.
However, Mr Nkrumah told journalists that: “Whilst President Akufo-Addo’s administration cannot speak for past administrations, including the immediate-past NDC administration, this administration does not and has not bugged offices of political parties, its key actors, individuals or organisations for that matter”.
He added that the practice of “accusing the state and seeking to portray to the global community of democratic watchers that the state is involved in some illegality, is unpatriotic and has the potential to undermine the growing respect that Ghana has for its resilient democracy and respect for rule of law”.
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