Ayawaso Commission: NDC lawyer bounced as Sam George changes story
Controversial opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram , Samuel Nettey George, has changed his story about the gunshots incident that rocked the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election on January 31.
He has now told the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry probing the by-election shootings that he heard about 30 gunshots which were fired between 45 and 60 seconds.
Also at the hearing yesterday, the commission rejected an application by Sam George’s lawyer, Dominic Ayine, to have some witnesses cross-examined.
Justice Francis Emile Short said granting it would set a “dangerous precedent” in the work of commissions of inquiry.
Last Monday, the same Sam George, who represents Ningo-Prampram, told the panel that he heard over 40 gunshots, some of which were aimed at him.
Initially, he could not tell the number of shots fired at him directly but when he was probed further, he later claimed there were four shots.
He had posted on social media that he was assaulted and shot at by the NPP’s Invincible Forces, and even sarcastically thanked the President for letting that happen to him.
When the commission drew his attention to the fact that he posted things that had been found to be untrue and that his posts had compelled the security agencies to take ‘certain decisions,’ Mr George insisted that he was standing by what he posted in the heat of the shootings.
He claimed the operatives pursued him to the La Bawaleshie School where he climbed up to the third floor and heard them issuing threats from the ground floor.
He said that he sent the Facebook post which is linked to his Twitter account even in the midst of supposed ‘fear’.
According to him, the firing started after he had an engagement with a member of the National Security he referred to as “Double,” whom he claimed was with the NPP’s Invincible Forces.
In every nagging question he was asked, Sam George appeared to say “let me paint the picture for you to understand.”
Firing Into the Crowd
He said shots were fired into the crowd by the operatives and said he was standing in between the crowd and the national security and upon hearing the firing, he ran for cover.
“I ran; they (crowd) ran,” he said and added that the firing occurred in front of the NDC’s parliamentary candidate, Delali Kwasi Brempong.
He showed footages of what he claimed were highlights of the assault incident even though he did not capture the incident himself.
He said he went to church to thank God for ‘saving’ his life after the four gunshots were fired at him.
He made the remarks after former Inspector General of Police, Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong, who is a member of the commission, had put it to him that he should have been dead after the bullets.
The commissioner said that the crowd and Sam George must be lucky persons not to have died to which the MP retorted “yes my Lord”.
He said his wife also massaged his wounded neck four times, and when he said that statement Mr. Acheampong asked whether “she is a nurse”. He retorted “no”.
He also entered into the realm of vigilantism where he said all those guys involved are also land guards.
Sam George attributed the large number of vigilantes in the society to the land tenure system in the country.
According to him, the police are aware of most of the vigilantes working as land guards.
“In fixing this menace as a nation, first and foremost, it is a demand and supply thing. If there is no demand there will be no supply. I believe that one of the ways of solving this menace is to resolve the land guard issue,” he stressed.
He justified his confrontation with members of the National Security, but the commission reminded him that his posture during the melee was not the best.
In rejecting the NDC’s application, Justice Short said the rules on Commission of Inquiry Practice and Procedure give the power to re-examine witnesses to the commission’s counsel.
He explained that only a witness whose conduct is a subject of the inquiry can cross-examine another witness, saying Ayine’s clients didn’t meet the requirement.
He explained that courts which allow cross-examination of both parties are different from commissions of inquiry.
The Emile Short Commission is merely investigative and therefore relies on witnesses whose supreme interest should be aiding the commission to present its findings and not protecting their own interests as they would in a court.
“In other words, the work of the commission, unlike that of a regular court, is not to decide what the balance of rights and liabilities are, between competing parties and the rules of evidence do not apply the same way,” he added.
Emile Short said the commission employs a lawyer to help it inquire from witnesses whereas in a court, a party uses a lawyer to defend a case.
“Granting the request to cross-examine other witnesses may have the effect of converting the nature and ethos of the work [of the commission] into proceedings of defence of private rights,” the chair read.
“This would fundamentally disrupt proceedings of the commission,” he ruled.
The former judge said any witness seeking to cross-examine other witnesses could supply questions to the counsel for the commission to use for re-examination.
Accepting the ruling, Dr Ayine said the chair’s explanation of the commission’s work shows that his clients must have no concerns that adverse finding would be made against them.
He noted Sam George could face expulsion from Parliament if such findings were made while in the case of Delali K. Brempong, he could be disqualified from standing for a seat in Parliament.
“To learn from the commission that no such career-killing findings would be made is comforting,” he said.