Election 2016: Keep off Talensi - NPP warns Azoka Boys
Leaders of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Talensi constituency have served strong warnings to the Tamale-based Azoka Boys, a vigilante group linked to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), to keep their distance from Talensi at the upcoming general elections.
The leaders, who blame the party’s defeat in the 2015 by-election in the area on the vigilante group for allegedly meddling in the voting process with lethal weapons, have vowed to counter should the group show up again at the 2016 polls.
In the run up to the by-election held about 36 weeks ago, the NPP punched the ruling NDC hard for reportedly sharing freebies sponsored from state purse to canvass votes.
The NDC returned the allegation in equal measure, accusing the NPP of doling out toiletries and clothing in wholesale to influence the electorate. The election day was characterised by widespread vehicle smashing, civilian-military face-offs and protest gunshots fired by some vigilante groups linked to both parties.
The NDC won the by-election by a wide margin, obtaining 10,366 votes representing 42.31% against 6,845 votes or 27.94% garnered by the NPP. No sooner had the Electoral Commission announced the results near midnight under a tense atmosphere than the NPP blamed its downfall on the NDC’s Azoka Boys, saying the group smuggled in a huge cache of illegal assault rifles and unleashed a hail of bullets sporadically at polling zones believed to be strongholds of the NPP to prevent its supporters from voting.
Now with 32 weeks to the November 7 general elections, influential members of the NPP in the hilly constituency, led by the party’s parliamentary candidate for the area, Thomas Pearson Duanab Wuni, say they are prepared for a showdown with the Azoka Boys.
“It won’t happen. What happened the last time at the by-election was one of those mistakes of life. There is no Azoka boy who can enter this constituency on election day. No single one. We will match them boot for boot. You saw the people dancing with swords. What is the meaning of that? Next time, they wouldn’t cross the Pwalugu River. We will stop them. They won’t enter,” the parliamentary candidate, robed in traditional war regalia at a festival, vowed in an interview with Starr News.
NPP to let loose Dazota Youth
The Talensi Constituency Chairman of the NPP, Kojo Atiah, disclosed the party’s intention to deploy the Bolgatanga-based Dazota Youth Group to ensure the ballot boxes are well protected.
He was speaking to journalists at Yameriga, a suburb of the Talensi District, during a funeral held in honour of mother to a popular financier of the party in the region, Kolog Buyak Zongdan, widely known as Polo.
“Azoka went to our strongholds, removing knives and guns. So, people didn’t come out to vote in our strongholds. That’s why we lost the election. This time, we are prepared. We are waiting for them. This time, that thing won’t happen. There is nothing like Azoka Boys in Talensi again. We have guys in town. You see our Dazota Boys, we are going to let them protect our votes. When you come and you want to take the box and run away, they won’t give you chance to run with the box,” the chairman stated strongly.
Dazota is an expression in Gurune, language of the Frafras. It means “Don’t fear”.
We are confident in the security? NDC
Reacting to the declarations made by the NPP, the NDC Talensi constituency executives defended the Azoka Boys and expressed their confidence in the security agencies for a peaceful election in 2016.
“They have alluded to the fact that the Dazota Boys are in town and they are prepared for 2016. They were the guys they brought for the by-election. This tells you that the Azoka Boys never did any such things in Talensi. If a civilian would recruit people and call them Dazota Boys and they think they will come and protect the ballot boxes, I think it is up to them. But we the NDC have confidence in the security and we know what the security and we know what the security services will do come the 2016 election,” Michael Naab, NDC’s Talensi Constituency Communications Officer, said.