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Opinions Tue, 19 Feb 2019

An attack on democracy: Critical comments on the 31st January violence

History teaches that, the underpinning causes of violence, conflicts and wars are fundamentally, the tendency of excessive greed and gross incompetence in political leadership. Through the marriage of these two will emerge multiple offspring of vices, with some holding the propensity of ruining families, societies and nations.

Needless to say there is no total escaping of violence in the world we live in; but it is evidential that not every exhibition of it holds a negative connotation. However, in a perfect blend of greed and incompetence, great catastrophes are inevitable.

After more than two decades of a dynamic democratic growth and now, a beacon of hope in Africa, the annals of history are forced like never before, to inscribe on their pages, an extraordinary dark episode of Ghanaian politics - a "file" that we will always desire to plug-off, from history books.

The robust indulgence in keeping law and order in a simple voting exercise can only be classified as the "manifestation of gross incompetence" by leadership of that sector; an act that has obviously, marred and contradicted the values we share as a distinguished young African democracy. It makes a mockery of our concept of freedom - the life style that differentiates Ghana from the many nations that surround her. This act equally provokes questions on the consolidation of the "Ghanaian freedom, " vis-a-vis the brutalities that are intrinsically tied to men in military uniforms, as exhibited by many francophone countries, where there is very little difference in the responsibilities of police and the military men; and where citizens, at every given circumstance, are terrified, in the sight of any one or group of individuals in khaki uniforms.

Political critics infer that Military men in most Francophone states are nothing less than state terrorists. Hopefully, such a "French" trend will not be welcomed in Ghana.

I may be exaggerating that, the exhibition of "Rambo-like" skills in a one sided "mortal combat" where military prowess was displayed on civilians by a purported National Security apparatus at Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, during a by-election process, on the 31st of January 2019, as if in a war zone, was probably, the first of its kind in the Fourth Republic. If proper analyses are carried out, I am sure, we would conclude without much hesitation or contradictions that, more than anything else, the incident was an attack, on Ghanaian democracy. It is also worth underscoring that, apart from the few who sustained serious injuries, among whom, some will permanently be handicapped, many more individuals will for a long time, carry on with the traumatic experience of "seeing" death, in so close a distance.

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The reason for which such inappropriate application of force, during this by-election period was carried out, has to be clarified to the Ghanaians, by the ones the citizens of this nation have legally entrusted their security and sovereignty.

I commend former president J.J Rawlings and a few more true patriots who vehemently condemned the unscrupulous, undemocratic, unprofessional and unconstitutional act that has rendered a handful of Ghanaians swiftly unbalanced, since that day. I urge the government of his Excellency, Nana Akufo Addo to critically and promptly make findings on the case, and be answerable to the Ghanaian public as the constitution requires, for the interest of "the rule of law," and the protection of our young democracy. Ghanaians, all and sundry await clarity on the incident, and it is our hope that perpetrators shall be brought to book.

On the same date of this unfortunate situation - the 31st of January 2019, another violent drama was reported from the Volta Region. Mr. Edem Tekpli, a peace loving citizen, was stabbed on the back and on his right thigh. Whether this incident was politically motivated or not, the primitive nature of the act calls for concern, especially as the scene is now been interpreted with interest from some political corridors.

Several statements have circulated to condemn the act in the best possible strongest terms, especially on social media. I equally join the cue of those who expressed indignation and disgust, including the NDC Volta regional chair, Hon. John K. Gyapong, who sent out a Rejoinder few days ago, with hopes of clarifying some few points that were raised by former president, J.J Rawlings, in an article titled, " Rawlings Cautions Perpetrators of Violence." President Rawlings, on the article, condemned the hideous act and linked its roots to political mischiefs.



As one who has been monitoring Mr. Edem's situation closely, I want to clarify some few points to that effect without insinuating that, there is anyone to blame for misinterpretation of facts. Rather, this is an attempt to properly align information for a better public consumption. Eyes view things vividly, but minds may interpret them differently. We are therefore apt to having diverse perspectives and different ranges of tonalities in our interpretations of events.

I had firsthand information that, Mr. Tekpli Edem's health was still precarious even while at the hospital in Accra. Through subsequent follow ups, I was told that, he had remained under medical observation, at the hospital, until he was discharged and that his recovery rate had remained a gradual process even after his release from the hospital.

During this period however, I read the “Press Release” of the Chairman of the Volta Regional NDC chapter, and as edifying as it was, I noticed that, it contained some few inconsistent points regarding the state of Mr. Edem, and his position, vis-a-vis police investigations. I was taken aback, just as many others who have been following the events on Mr. Edem, from a close range were too.

It seemed that, Hon. Gyapong was not frequently updated on the unfolding of events. It is the more reason why this analysis should be taken into consideration for the sake of setting straight the records.

First of all, Mr. Edem had not written a police statement, considering the nature of his injury, and the general state of his health, after the gruesome attack on his life.

Secondly, Mr. Edem Tekpli was taken to Accra for further treatment, and had not resumed normal working schedule contrary to what the press statement of the chairman had seem to suggest.



The alignment of information on Mr. Edem's health and his position vis-a-vis the police in Ho, concords with the former president's stance, and not too different from the "Rejoinder" of the NDC Volta Regional Chair, Hon. Gyapong, except, perhaps, for the fact that, the former president had visited the victim at the hospital and as a leader, he probably understands the dynamics of events, such as this one.

Certainly, these two incidents of 31st of January 2019 are two different things, but both acts carry significant-undesirable violence. We must remind ourselves that, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent," but as optimist, I don't want to believe without an iota of doubt that, our government's defense mechanism has degraded to such amateurishness. I will prefer to give them the benefit of doubt although I will reiterate that it is our duty as patriotic citizens of this nation, to always emphasize on the values that build true peace, in democratic societies and "truth" is one of them; twisting the facts is another form of violence that’s certainly not a lesser evil, than a violent act.

As we prepare to enter the electioneering period, more caution, more prudence and more democratic practices should be encouraged to take the front stage of our political discourse so that, we are rest-assured of a sustainable peace, during and after the general elections, come 2020.

For this and other reasons, I urge the citizens of this beautiful nation to keep the government awake on her responsibility to furnish the public with the right information, until clarity and justice is reached on the unfortunate shooting incident at La-Balawahie, and on the incident in the Voltage Region on 31st January 2019, because these acts are nothing less than, An Attack on our Democratic Values.

Columnist: Kofi Tetegahp
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