General News Tue, 5 Mar 2019

Transcript: National security operative 'Double' testifies before Short Commission

Counsel: Can you state your full name?

Double: My name is Bright Ernest Akomea.

Counsel: What do you do by way of profession?

Double: I work at the National Security Council as an operative.

Counsel: For how long have you been doing that?

Double: Almost two years.

Counsel: What were you doing prior to joing national security?

Double: I was selling mobile phones at Circle in Accra.

Counsel: How did you get into the National Security?

Double: In 2017, I heard NS was recruiting and I also sent my application.

Counsel: Did you have to go through an interview?

Double: I went for vetting and they took my fingure prints.

Counsel: Did you go through any formal training to become National Security operative?

Double: I went to Asutuare.

Counsel: Mr. Akomea what sort of training did you receive?

Double: I learnt how to read map, how to talk on Gotto phone combat and small weapon training.

Counsel: Were you trained on weapons handling?

Double: Pls we learnt a little bit of that…basic training.

Counsel: Were you given any training in crowd control. Double replies ‘Yes’.

Counsel: Were you also given training on how to handle pressure on the job? Witness responds in the affirmative.

Counsel: The commission has been told by Sam George that you were a member of Invincible Forces

Double: When I heard it I was surprised. MP who has come to swear an oath here….[ counsel restrains him and directs him to answer the question]

Double: Pls I have never joined Invincible Forces

Counsel: Where are you stationed as a National Security Operative?

Double: Pls I am stationed at Kotoka International Airport

Counsel: Were you stationed at Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency on January 31? Witness responds in the affirmative.

Counsel: What took you there?

Double: The night before we were told that we should prepare to go to the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency, that is around 2:30am.

Counsel: You just told the Commission that you were stationed at the airport

Double: Yes but we can be reassigned.

Counsel: In the past two years how many times have you been re-assigned to a place. Witness responds twice.

Counsel: Were you given brief on the nature of the operations

Double: No. I was told our leader will tell us what to do so we should join the patrol.

Counsel: By leader who do you mean? Witness says DSP Samuel Azugu.

Counsel: Is it the case that you did everything by the instruction of DSP Azugu?

Double: When we left for patrols very instruction was from Azugu.

Counsel: Can you tell the Commission how events unfolded?

When we left Blue Gate, our next stop was Abelekpe. From there we went to Ayawaso constituency.

Witness is shown a video.

Counsel: What time did you go to the residence of the NDC candidate

Double: We went to the Bawaleshie school park first. When we were leaving there was a little traffic so our commander got down and directed the traffic.

Counsel: I am asking you what time did you get to the NDC PC’s house

Double: We didn’t know the house of the NDC PC. But if you ask me the time we went to where the boys had gathered there I could help.

Counsel: Do you remember where the shooting took place. That is the area I am referring to. What time did you go there.

Witness responds it was around 8am

Counsel ask if witness is a leader in the SWAT team to which he responds in the negative.

Counsel: So how come you are dressed differently.

Double: There was a plaster on my left arm so I dressed to cover it.

Witness is asked to explain how events unfolded.

While we were in the car [at Bawaleshie] we saw about 15 motorbikes with riders coming to our direction following by three cars. When they got to where DSP Azugu was directing traffic, some of the riders disembarked, leaving the drivers who went behind the school. I saw Azugu talking to them. We didn’t get down from the vehicle. So we heard a gunshot.

Then Azugu ordered we disembark and investigate. There was a large crowd when we got there. There were motorbikes and three pick-ups full of people ready to move. When we got there we asked who fired the gun but nobody answered. So we asked for reinforcements from Azugu.

Before DSP Azugu came, we ordered those in the pick-up to get down as we searched the vehicle. Just when we were searching then Sam George got there. Before he got there they complied with our order to disembark as we searched. But after the MP got there, he shouted why are we intimidating his people. I knew him but he didn’t know me so I asked him to leave the place so we search.

He said there will be no search which inflamed the people to resist the search. I told two boys to move the MP from the place and calm down the crowd. As we were retreating, some people started throwing stones from the crowd and water from the house.

I knew one of the boys [whom we had ordered to disembark] so I asked why are your boys doing this to us. We were retreating with the MP behind us but he wanted to move infront. The stone-throwing was severe that was when Azugu got to the location. When he got there, he ordered them to fire warning shots. One warning shots was fired and three shots came from the crowd. He asked that we fire the shots again. While it was being given I tried to protect the MP, moving him back behind us whiles stones were flying in.

Few minutes later the crowd dispersed. I told the MP to walk in between us to the park. Then he said his people are asking for a car key and I told him to relax he will get the key. Then I left him and went to sit in my car.

Counsel: How many warning shots were fired by your people?

Double: I cannot tell.

Counsel: Were you carrying a weapon on the day?

Double: I was not given a weapon but when we were asked to go investigate the scene I took the gun belonging to a police officer who was our driver.

Counsel: Did you at any point in time discharge your weapon?

Double: I was not instructed to give a warning shot.

Counsel: Sam George came to you after the shooting incident. Is that the case?

Double: Yes. I came to me on the park

Counsel: According to Sam George before the Commission he was discussing the matter of the key with you when the first warning shot was discharged.

Double: It is not true. When the warning shot was given he was trying to hide.

Counsel: According to Sam George, when the first warning shot was discharged you turned around to fire. Is that the case?

Double: It is not true.

Counsel: According to you heard the warning shot that attracted you to the scene.

Double: It did not attract me. It was the commander who ordered us to go investigate the shooting.

Counsel: How many gunshots? Witness responds one.

Counsel: It was Azugu who asked you to fire the warning shot. Is that the case?

Double: Yes when I came to the park

Counsel: The Commission has been told that the SWAT team that day was made up of 35 civilain operatives and 25 police officers. Did any civilian operative carry a gun?

Double: No please.

Counsel: You have told the commission that while trying to control the crowd you heard gun shots from the crowd and stones and water were thrown at you. Is that the case?

Double: Yes, we were retreating from the crowd as they started throwing the stones when Azugu asked us to fire warning shot that was when three shots rang from the crowd. On gun shot from the police contingent and three from the crowd.

Counsel: According to you, Azugu after the first warning shot ordered the police to fire another shot. Witness affirms.

Counsel did you see them do so.

I heard the shots but I did not see who fired the shots.At the time I was with Sam George. The police contingent which fired the warning shot was behind us

Counsel: So you are not in a position to tell the direction of the warning shots from the SWAT Team. Witness confirms he cannot.

Counsel: Are you able to put a number on the crowd at the scene?

Double: They were a lot. They were more than 100. But the crowd reduced when we got there and told some people to disembark.

Counsel: Can you describe the kind of people you saw?

Double: I saw Shiabu, siedu p3, rashid, dragon mohammed tanko, Mala, Theophilus.

Counsel: Were these people you knew before the day? Witness responffs he knew them and they also knew he worked at National Security.

Counsel: Were they your friends? Double: No. But we know each other.

Counsel: How long have you known them? Double: It’s been a long time.

Counsel: How did you come by them? Double: I know them as not as friends but we see each other sometimes. I know them as NDC security I occasionally meet.

Counsel: Have you worked for the NDC before? Witness says no.

Counsel: So how did you make this people?

Double: In 2016, I saw them at an NDC rally at Ashale Botwe. They were wearing an attire inscribed as NDC security. But I knew them before the rally so I know their names.

Counsel: According to you, you are not sure about the number of warning shots discharged by the SWAT team?

Double: I cannot tell the number of warning shots.

Counsel: Did you see any injured? Double: Two people close to us as the stones were coming in.

Counsel: Can you tell the nature of the injuries? Double says one had a cut in the head and the other in the neck.

Counsel: Did you see the man with gunshot wound to the leg?

Counsel: So part from these two people you saw no other person? Double: Yes. ONLY two.

[Shown a video and asked to explain what was happening]

Counsel: Are you able to tell the Commission what was going on?

Double: In this incident, we were leaving the scene of the incident and heading to the park.

Counsel: Did you hear what the MP was telling the DSP Azugu? Double responds ‘no’.

Counsel: Was this after the MP demanded the key or after? Double responds, it was after the footage.

Counsel ask if witness had the key to which he responds no.

Counsel: Did you know anything about the key?

Double: No. He said his people are asking for a car key. I told him I know nothing about a key but when we get to the car I will find out and give it to him

[Shown another video]

Witness is asked if he was present at this scene. To which he responds in the affirmative.

Counsel: Are you able to tell the Commission what was going on?

Double: This was when Sam George had appeared at the scene and insisted there will be no search.

Counsel: You told the Commission everything you did was based on instructions of the Commander. Double affirms.

Counsel: Have you come across videos of people being kicked by members of your group? Witness responds that he has.

[A video is show to the witness]

Counsel: Were you present at this scene

Double: I was not present here. I was on the main road with DSP Azugu.

Chairman: So then you cannot tell us what was going on here. Witness responds he can’t.

Witness is presented to the chairman

Chairman receives confirmation from the witness, he joined National Security two years ago and was formally a mobile phone repairer.

Chairman: Do you know of the Invincible Forces, Delta Forces and have you been part of them or any group like them?

Double: Yes I have only heard of them and I have never been part of any such group.

Chair: Before you were a mobile phone repairs what did you do?

Double: I was in Togo between 2001 and 2005.

Chair: How many motorbikes did you see at the residence of the NDC PC and do you know who brought them?

Double: I can’t tell the number of the bikes there. We asked the crowd but did not get any response on who owns them.

He says he also does not know those who owned the 15 motorbikes he initially saw when he was in the pick-up. There were three cars behind the motorbikes. The bikes had passengers who got down when they met us. The bikers drove off.

Speaking about the cars, he identified a White saloon car, a green Mahindra with a certain lady in that car. The third one had former Accra Mayor and NDC MP Oko Vanderpuye.

Chairman: Did you know Oko Vanderpuye before? Did he stop at the scene or he continued.

Double: I know him. He stopped and had a chat with Azugu. But they did not finish their conversation when we heard the gun shot and then we were instructed to investigate.

Chairman: Why were you searching the three vehicles? Double: Nobody told us where the shots were fired from so we had to search the car.

Chairman: So you were searching the vehicle for what purpose? Double: To find out if the weapon was in the car.

Chairman: Why did Sam George restrain you from searching the vehicle. Witness says, the MP did not offer any explanation.

Chair: So what did you tell him when he insisted he won’t allow you and did you tell Azugu.

Double: Azugu had been called and was yet to arrive at the scene.

Witness re-affirms he knew some people in the crowd and knew these five people. He explains again, he has known them for a long time. They are party of the NDC security.

Witness in response to a question says he did not know them in any group when they were acquaintances. It was later I saw Theophilus in a T-Shirt marked the Hawks.

Chair: When did you see Theophilus? Double: When John Mahama began his NDC Unity walk last year.

The other four do you recognise them in any of these groups. Witness says no he does not.

Chair: You said I took a gun from a police officer and are you permitted to handle a gun? Witness affirms.

He explains once again he was not given a gun on the day of the operation but he is authorised to handle a gun.

Chair: Did you ask permission from Azugu? Double: I took the gun before telling Azugu.

Chair: You said that after the crowd threw stones and water at your group there were three gunshots that came from the crowd...Did you see the person who fired the guns? In what direction was the gun fired.

Double: No and I did not know the direction. I heard only the sound.

Chair: Did you know of any injuries from the gun shots? Witness says no.

Double: I cannot remember the number of warning shots we fired.

Chair: When those warning shots were fired do you know what happened to the empty shells? Did you see the empty shells at your location?

Double: No and I did not see the whereabouts of any shell casings.

Chair: You said there was a crowd at the residence of the NDC PC. Were you able to find out why the crowd was there? Witness says no.

Chair: How did the five others you mentioned, know you work at national security?

Double: Some of them have met me at national security.

Chair: How would they know you worked at National Security at the Airport.

Double: They met me there and over there we have tags so people can know your department. And I even told them. I met them at the arrival.

Chair: Were the injuries to the head and neck from gun shots? Witness says no.

Chair: How do you know with any degree of certainty? Double: The wounds were swollen and open.

Chair: You also said that you saw people being beaten by your group? Double: I saw it on video not personally.

Chair: Do you know those who were being beaten?

Double: No I don’t know them but they were all arrested and brought into the car.

Chair: Did you see them personally?

Double: When I saw in the video then I realised those who were arrested are the people who were beaten.

[Hands over witness to Commissioner Prof. Henrietta Mensa Bonsu]

Prof. Bonsu: Were you also trained on accountability procedures after you use fire arms? Witness affirms.

Prof. Bonsu: So how did you come to borrow a gun?

Double: I took it to deter possible aggressors. I took the gun because we heard gun shots

Prof. Bonsu: You were going to a scene you did not know what was there. You borrowed a gun. What did you intend to use the gun for?

Double: The gun shot sounds attracted us so we knew why we were there.

Prof. Bonsu: If you had no intention to use a gun why did you take a gun along? Witness says, it is to intimidate aggressors and deter them.

Prof. Bonsu: What if he wasn’t intimidated? Witness says that is why they called for reinforcements.

Prof. Bonsu: We have received testimony that you were the first to fire a warning shot. Witness says it is not true.

Prof. Bonsu: Did anybody ask you by what authority were you ordering them to disembark?

Double: We told them we had heard a gunshot so we came to inquire and we asked them who fired the gun.

Prof. Bonsu: From your testimony there was lots of other people so why did you tell this group to alight?

Double: They were lot so we thought it is possible they knew who fired the gun that is why we asked them to get down.

Prof. Bonsu: What kind of vehicle were they in?

Double: Mahindra, Nssan Hard Body and Toyota.

Prof. Bonsu: And where did they say they were going? Double: We didn’t ask them but we told them to disembark.

Prof. Bonsu: And they did not challenge your authority to ask them to stop? Double: Yes.

Prof. Bonsu: And Sam George came to challenge you? Witness says yes.

Prof. Bonsu: What were you told to do in the investigations?

Double: We were asked the find out who was there and why they were firing shots.

Prof. Bonsu: So by what authority did you decide to search a vehicle?

Double: We wanted them to alight so that before Azugu comes they will all be there.

But you had no authority to ask them to disembark

Double: We asked the car to stop and the people disembark because it was possible the shooter was in the car.

Prof. Bonsu: Who asked them to go into the house? Witness says no one.

Prof. Bonsu: So why were you pushing the crowd?

Double: We were not pushing the crowd. When we were falling back they coming onto us.

Prof. Bonsu: We have received testimony here that you ordered them to go into the house and they refused. Witness says no.

Prof. Bonsu At what point did you fire the warning shot.

Double: When they started throwing stones and water that was when Azugu came and instructed us to fire a warning shot after the crowd grew uncontrollable. More gun shots came from the crowd.

Prof. Bonsu So how come nobody was wounded on your side?

Double: It is possible someone got hurt but did not show it. Nobody reported injuries. For example I was hit by a stone but I did not report.

Prof. Bonsu: But surely you can’t hide a gun shot wound.

Prof. Bonsu: You said there was fire and stones and you could be hit by a stone but not by gun shot?

Double: I did not see the direction of the gun but I heard the sound.

Prof. Bonsu: So you I did not see who was firing and you cannot tell if it was your people who were firing?

Double: I could hear the sound but where it came from I wouldn’t know.

Prof. Bonsu: Were you using the same guns as the crowd?

Double: I didn’t see their guns. I cannot tell.

Prof. Bonsu: We are all going by the sound of the gun. How different was their sound from your sound?

Double: It was different. Ours was heavier than theirs.

Prof. Bonsu: You said you saw some people you knew at an NDC rally working as NDC security. Were you also in security for the NPP? Double: No, I was a polling station chairman for the NPP.

Prof. Bonsu: And you could know that the others were in NDC?

Double: Yes NPP and NDC we are friends so we chat. They know my name.

Prof. Bonsu: This key that Sam George was claiming from you, if you were not the leader of the group how would he ask for the key from you.

Double: I knew him so I approached him first to protect him so I was more likely to be asked any questions from him.

Even after the incident, three days afterwards, Sam George and his people wanted to use the VIP lounge and they were not entitled to use it. But I helped him to use the lounge.

Prof. Bonsu: So you had broken the law for him?

Yes. But I knew he was an MP. Even the Friday before Monday he appeared at the Commission, his car was even impounded by the AMA people and I helped him. That was when he told me I was coming here on Monday to testify.

Prof. Bonsu: So how many laws have you broken for him?

Double: Two.

Prof. Bonsu: Did you here that you were being described as Invincible Forces at the scene of the incident? Witness says No.

Prof. Bonsu: But Sam George seems to know you very well.

Double: He doesn’t know me. It was at the airport that I introduced myself as Double. That is why am surprised he said I am a member of Invincible Forces.

Prof. Bonsu: Why not tell the Commission the truth that you provide security for NPP and they provide security for NDC.

Double: Me I am an executive so I would go there to an NDC rally to see what they were.

Source: Myjoyonline.com
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