The flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama has called on residents of the Volta Region to exercise restraint in the face of alledged military brutalities and attack on NDC members in the region by known members of the ruling New Patriotic Party.
Mr. Mahama who was on a tour in the Volta Region yesterday told party members in the Akatsi North Constituency that he is aware of the recent deployment of the military and other security operatives and how it has affected their livelihoods and their freedom.
“I have been briefed on what is happening and I will continue to urge them to exercise restraint. We know the intimidation that is going on and how it has affected their livelihoods because they cannot move freely on their own lands but I still ask them to exercise restraint and encourage them in their numbers to come out and register ahead of the 2020 general elections.”
Mr. Mahama’s tour of the region was to enable him observe and get first-hand information on the ongoing nationwide Voter’s registration exercise by the Electoral Commission.
He visited registration centres in the South Tongu, Akatsi South, Ketu North, Ketu South, Akatsi North, Agotime-Ziope and Ho Central Constituencies where he interacted with traditional rulers, applicants and party folks alike.
While ending his tour in the Ho Central Constituency, the NDC Flagbearer made a final stop at the Asogli State Council to pay a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of the Asogli State and the President of the National House of Chiefs, Agbogbomefia Togbe Afede XIV and the other traditional authorities of the Asogli people.
At the Council, Mr. Mahama shared stated his displeasure about the security deployment in the area while calling on the traditional authorities to encourage their citizens to go out and register.
He said, “Just at the start of the exercise (voters registration), there was a report of the military to certain parts of the country. We know that the military is one of the security services and it has the mandate of defending the territorial integrity of our country against external aggression, so anytime there is the deployment of the military, then you know that there is an extreme crisis and so, it took a lot of us by surprise.”
According to him, though government’s explanations are that the deployment is done to protect the borders against cross border spread of Covid-19, it has coincided with the Voter registration exercise, which has led to intimidation and harassment of citizens who are supposed to exercise their civic responsibility of registering in an enabling environment.
“Unfortunately, the coincidence of the start of the voters registration exercise with the deployment of the military has left an unpleasant case in the minds of drivers of democracy, because this Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for some months now and we started with only two cases reported. If there is the need for us to seal our borders, I think that’s the time those borders should have been sealed when we had only two cases. Now today, we have over 20,000 cases and so, one wonders if the strength of Covid-19 is from inside or from outside.”
Mr. Mahama finds the military deployment and its attendant issues as a way of questioning the citizenship of the residents of the region who have lived peacefully for many years.
The presence of the security in the region, especially in border communities in the Ketu South, Akatsi North and Ho West areas has received wild condemnations from Traditional Authorities and residents in the region who have persistently accused the military of ransacking people’s homes, removing people from queues at registration centres and molesting of individuals on suspicion of being aliens attempting to participate in the voters registration exercise.