Ayawaso violence: We don't know masked gunmen, SWAT car – DCOP Mensah
The Director of Operations of the Ghana Police Service, DCOP George Alex Mensah, has rejected claims that the masked gunmen who caused mayhem during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in a SWAT-branded vehicle were from the police.
DCOP Mensah, who appeared before a Commission of Inquiry tasked to probe the gun violence, told the panel that he is unaware of the operations of the fully-geared, gun-wielding masked men.
“I did not know who the masked men were. I will be surprised that they were members of the SWAT team. That vehicle is not part of those under my command and the police have never used that vehicle before,” he said on Friday, 15 Feburary 2019.
He revealed: “No other unit took part in the policing of the elections.”
DCOP Mensah’s testimony falls in line with that of the Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, who also revealed to the Commission that none of the police officers deployed during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election wore a mask.
He also said on Thursday that the police-branded vehicles used by the national security operatives who shot 16 members of the main opposition National Democratic Congress during the election, did not belong to the Ghana Police Service.
Testifying before the Commission, Mr Dery said: “I first saw on TV, a number of persons dressed up in Khaki and some of them wearing masks, they were armed and when I got the video, I forwarded it to the IGP and he said: 'These are not part of my men’”.
He continued: “As far as the reports from the IGP go, they were not part of the persons that he deployed on the day and, therefore, they are not his men”.
Mr Dery further indicated that he was informed by the IGP that the vehicles used by the armed men do not belong to the police even though they were branded as police vehicles.
“It had come to my notice on the video that they were in a vehicle that had the police logo. That was one of the reasons why I forwarded the video to the IGP and he denied that that was not a police vehicle in use by the police,” Mr Dery added.
He quoted the IGP as telling him: “Our vehicles have GP [as registration number], what is the GP number? It is not our vehicle”.
“What I do know is that all the police personnel and the immigration personnel who were deployed that day were not masked and were not armed,” Mr Dery stressed.
Some heavily-armed operatives shot and wounded supporters of the NDC at the private residence of the party’s candidate about an hour into the by-election on Thursday, 31 January 2019.
Some civilians were also beaten up, including a Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Sam George. He was slapped in the melee in the full glare of some police officers.