Gov’t won’t release Short Commission report on electoral violence - Oppong Nkrumah tells NDC
The Government, has rejected demands by the Minority in Parliament for the publication of the Emile Short Commission report on the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, which almost led to the amputation of one of the gunshot victims.
But according to the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the demands are premature.
The Minority on Wednesday, called on President Akufo-Addo, to make public the report of the Commission on the by-election violence.
Six people were shot at the Bawaleshie polling centre of the Constituency during the election held on January 31, compelling the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to withdraw from the exercise, citing safety concerns.
Voters were electing a new Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, following the demise of NPP MP, Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko.
The Ranking Member of Parliament’s Defence and Interior Committee, James Agalga, on Wednesday asked the report be published ahead of the debate on the vigilantism and related offences bill.
The bill was initiated at the request of President Akufo-Addo, to tackle party militia operations, which was blamed for the violence during the by-election.
According to Agalga, the publication of the report, would influence the Minority’s participation in the debate on the bill.
“If he fails to publish the contents of the report, the decision to take part in the deliberations of the bill or not is going to be taken at the level of leadership and, so, for now, we will not want to disclose what strategies are up our sleeves,” Agalga told journalists in Parliament on Wednesday.
“When the time comes, we shall advise ourselves appropriately”.
Speaking to Starr News, Mr Oppong Nkrumah, rejected the Minority’s demand, stating the report would be released at the right time.
“I don’t think that we were second-guessing the constitution of the Republic. The constitution of the Republic is clear that when you have a commission of enquiry, you have up to six months to make a determination—a. Whether the report will be made public and if so you publish it and the white paper that goes along with it or—b. If the report contains something for which reason it cannot be made public, the president is required to issue a statement explaining why it cannot be made public,” Oppong Nkrumah told Starr News’s Ibrahim Alhassan yesterday.
“This is just about what… three months after the commission’s report was submitted, so it will be strange for anybody who knows the law, knows the constitution and is very familiar to it [then] all of a sudden feign ignorance about what the constitution says. I think it is quite clear and we don’t need to be labour that point unless somebody just wants to do some mischief with it,” he added.
He said the Minority’s suggestion for the report to be made public to inform their line of argument is out of place.
“I have heard them put up an alternative argument that due to the bill against vigilantism, I think when you put up that argument again you have challenges. Why do you suppose that without a public outing of the Emile Short Commission’s report persons cannot contribute to the vigilantism bill? It is a lame argument to make,” Oppong Nkrumah stated.
The Minority, had demanded the immediate publication of the Justice Emile Short Commission Report on the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence.
According to the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Defence and Interior Committee, there is a compelling reason for the President to cause the publication of the report despite the fact that the constitutional time bar of six months within which to release the report has not elapsed.
Addressing the press in Parliament, James Agalga indicated that good governance dictates that the President publishes the report to inform the processes already underway in Parliament to find a solution to political vigilantism.
“Notwithstanding the discretionary powers vested in the President in Article 280 (4), on the publication or otherwise of the report of a committee of enquiry, there are compelling reasons why it will be grossly misconceived for the president to seek refuge under the said Article. The Emile Short Committee report deals directly with political-related violence and acts of political party vigilantism and necessarily must serve as source material for Parliament’s review before any legislation on vigilantism can be passed.”
“President Akufo-Addo must hold the tenets of good governance by publishing the Emile Short’s Commission’s report given the public interest nature of the issue investigated by the said commission.”
The Commission, which was set up to probe the violence, presented its report to the President but has since not been published yet.
President Akufo-Addo, has, however, said that, the government would do its best to implement the recommendations of the report.
The report among other things outlines the findings and recommendations from the committee’s probe of the violence.
When the document was presented to the President, Chairman of the Commission, Justice Emile Short did not give details of the report but was optimistic that the recommendations will be implemented.
The NDC has also made a similar call on President Akufo-Addo to publish the Justice Emile Short Commission of Inquiry’s report on the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence.