Ladies and Gentlemen, we are grateful that you joined us for this important press conference today. With just a few days to the 7th December elections, we invited you here to draw your attention to some critical developments that have a bearing on the conduct of a free, fair, transparent and credible election.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible elections is not an event but a process. Therefore the processes leading to the conduct of elections must be fair, transparent and inclusive to engender trust among stakeholders. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. The Jean Mensa led Electoral Commission continues to disregard political parties in decision making on critical issues regarding the elections.
It is common knowledge that until recently, Ghana’s Electoral Commission was among the most well respected Election Management Bodies in the world under the leadership of Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan and Mrs. Charlotte Osei. Unfortunately, the credibility of the Commission began to decline since President Akufo-Addo supervised the forced removal of Mrs. Charlotte Osei from office and appointed Mrs. Jean Mensa and Dr. Bossman Asare who are both perceived to be sympathizers of the New Patriotic Party. Jean Mensa is also a direct relative of the first lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
Since their appointment, various actions by Jean Mensa and Bossman Asare confirm that they are not neutral and that they were appointed to do the bidding of President Akufo-Addo and the NPP. Our suspicions of bias on the part of the leadership of the EC were confirmed at page 13 of the 2019 Human Rights Report issued by the United States Department of State thus:
“The June 2018 ouster of the Electoral Commission Chairperson and the president’s subsequent filling of the EC with persons considered to be biased in favour of the ruling party raised questions about whether the body might be used to stifle voter registration in areas of opposition support”.
Indeed, subsequent events confirm the agenda by the leadership of the EC and the NPP.
DISREGARD FOR THE INTER-PARTY ADVISORY COMMITTEE (IPAC)
Ladies and Gentlemen, over the years, the Electoral Commission successfully institutionalised time-tested mechanisms that helped to build trust among political parties and other stakeholders throughout the electioneering process to ensure free, fair and credible elections. In the past, the EC always consulted and involved IPAC in taking major decisions on critical matters related to elections including the drafting of various election related laws. Unfortunately, the Jean Mensa led EC has abandoned consensus building to taking unilateral decisions on important matters on elections. IPAC has now been reduced to information sharing forum where the EC only communicates its decisions to political parties and other stakeholders and does not take their views into account in making such decisions.
The intransigence of the Jean Mensa led Commission is unbelievable. On various occasions when the National Democratic Congress wrote to the EC on pertinent issues requesting information, the EC flagrantly disregarded those letters without any reply.
It was this same arrogance that she exhibited by ignoring invitations by the National House of Chiefs to brief the house on matters related to the compilation of the voters register and disregard for the invitation to brief Parliament of the state of preparedness for the 2020 elections. The Jean Mensa led EC with the tacit support of Akufo-Addo also disregarded the Imposition of Restrictions Act and Executive Instruments to embark on public activities that were banned as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That is not all. The Jean Mensa led EC has no regard for our Courts too. She told the people of Ghana that the Electoral Commission’s decision to compile a new register was based on recommendations from a technical assessment of the current register by a consultant. The NDC officially requested that the Electoral Commission publishes the report of the consultant but they failed to do so. Consequently, the Hon. Member of Parliament for Ashiaman, Ernest Norgbey instructed his lawyers to apply for a copy of the said report per the Freedom of Information Act but the Electoral Commission failed to release a copy of the report to him. Mr. Norgbey later succeeded in securing a court order to compel the EC to release the report. The EC however appealed the decision at the High Court. When the High Court dismissed the appeal as unmeritorious, the Commission repeated the appeal at the Court of Appeal which also failed. As at today the EC is in a continuous breach of the order of the Court to release the said report. From the above developments we have come to one and only one conclusion that no such report exists and as characteristic of Jean Mensa’s leadership, she blatantly LIED to Ghanaians that the EC’s decision was based on recommendations by experts. As we have always maintained, the overriding reason for spending over $140m to compile a new register even in the face of a deadly pandemic was to facilitate the re-election agenda of the FAILED and CORRUPT Akufo-Addo and his NPP government. But we can assure Ghanaians that this plan has already failed.
So clearly, the EC has shown that they are above the law and therefore have no regard for any other institution in this country. But we don’t blame them, they continue to act in this manner because they have the support of the one who appointed them –Akufo-Addo.
THE CREDIBILITY CRISIS OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
Ladies and Gentlemen, Jean Mensa’s leadership has created irreparable credibility crises for the Electoral Commission. Over the past three years, we have had cause to raise concerns on the conduct and posturing of the Electoral Commission. Ghanaians are witnesses to the comedy of errors and convoluted justifications the EC gave for the compilation of a new voters register after the EC itself confirmed that the register was credible for the conduct of the 2019 district level elections. The sudden decision of the Electoral Commission to compile a new register was highly suspicious and when it was obvious that it was needless they insisted on expending about $140m of the taxpayer’s money to embark on such a project.
This same Jean Mensa led EC told Ghanaians that the EC would accept the old voter ID card as a source document for the compilation of a new register but made a sudden u-turn that it wouldn’t accept the old voters ID card for the purpose of the compilation of a new register.
Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the justifications the Electoral Commission gave for the compilation of a new register was the need to eliminate manual verification from the voting process. Even though the Biometric Verification Devices performed at the rate of 99.4 percent in the 2019 District Level Elections with only 0.6 percent of voters verified manually, the EC insisted that the number was high and hence the new system would perform better. In addition to this, the EC informed Ghanaians that it will introduce facial recognition technology to verify those who cannot be verified biometrically. What the EC sold to Ghanaians was that the new system will NOT permit manual verification.
The Jean Mensa’s own words, “…the Commission invited two Information Technology Consultants including the Biometric consultant who had advised the Commission in 2011 when the decision was taken to go biometric. Both Consultants confirmed the report of the STL and their partners HSB.
Distinguished Members of the Press, the current Biometric Verification Device (BVD) is unable to verify a number of voters electronically resulting in a high number of manual verification on voting day. This compromises the integrity of the elections. NIST studies have shown that image quality has a direct impact on identification match accuracy. Poor fingerprint image quality can have the following negative impacts in an AFIS System;
The current solution does not have a facial recognition. Additionally, the current architecture of the system is such that a facial recognition add-on cannot be added. The new solution will have facial recognition as an additional feature for those whose fingers cannot be verified. This will remove the current rising trend of manual verification which tends to compromise the integrity and credibility of our elections. Let us present to you some statistics.
In the just ended DLE held in 2019, out of a total number of Five Million, Four Hundred and Thirty One Thousand, Nine Hundred and two (5,431902) verified, Thirty-Four Thousand, Eight Hundred and Forty-Three (34,843) were manually verified. This is a significant number which can determine the winner of an election. If you will recall in 2008 the difference between the winner and the first runner-up was less than Forty-Thousand (40, 000) votes. The inclusion of facial recognition will completely eliminate manual verification and will ensure that the will of the people stands and that every vote cast matters”
As characteristic of Jean Mensa’s leadership, she made another u-turn on this by announcing that manual verification would be allowed in the 2020 December elections.
The EC gave every assurance that the voter registration exercise will be successful. Unfortunately, the exercise was fraught with numerous challenges such as multiple registration, duplicate serial numbers, faulty equipment, missing names from the register and above all, the unprecedented violence and even deaths that characterized the exercise.
As part of the comedy of inconsistencies that dent the credibility of the EC, the EC earlier on announced that the results of the elections will be announced by 10th December. In a dramatic departure from this announcement, Dr. Serebour Quarcoo subsequently announced on 18th November that the results will be declared by close of day on 8th December barely 24 hours after close of polls. These inconsistencies leave doubt as to whether the EC should be taken as a serious institution. Obviously, Jean Mensa is running the Electoral Commission like her IEA- a one woman NGO where she did whatever she liked. But we wish to remind Jean Mensa that the Electoral Commission is an important state institution that require the requisite competence for effective management. She is being paid by the tax payer’s money and therefore she is accountable to the people of Ghana. We share the view of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) that the declaration of results within 24 hours after voting is practically impossible.
We have gathered intelligence that the Returning officers have been asked to focus on the results of the presidential elections and send them ahead of that of the Parliamentary Elections. If this is true, then the EC is set to create confusion after the elections.
MANUAL COLLATION OF ELECTION RESULTS
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me use this opportunity to explain to you the results collation process. After the close of polls, the ballots are sorted and counted at every polling station and recorded on the statement of poll. The statement of poll is signed by both party agents and the presiding officer. The results of the polling stations are then sent to the constituency collation centres for collation of results by the Returning Officer. Before the returning officer can declare the results, the Officer must see all the individual results from all the polling stations.
Therefore before the Electoral Commissioner who is the Returning Officer for Presidential Elections can declare the results, she must receive all the results from all 275 constituencies.
Apart from the constituency collation of results, the Electoral Commission has introduced another layer at the Regions for the collation of results at the regional level.
We therefore find it strange, announcement by the Electoral Commission that it will declare presidential election results within 24 hours after the close of polls.
We therefore wish to caution the EC not to be in indecent haste to create any confusion over the declaration of results. What the EC is doing now is raising people’s expectations unnecessarily.
It is sad that the Electoral Commission has reduced its communication to propaganda. Having suffered irreparable credibility crises through both deliberate and negligent acts. When we notice a problem and we raise alarm, the EC apologises quietly but turns round to publicly deny same. The discovery of the illegal printing of excess presidential ballot papers is a case in point. When we released that the EC connived with Assembly Press to print presidential ballot papers on the blind side of political parties, officials of the EC came to the scene and apologized. However, the EC subsequently denied the incident publicly. As we have always advised the EC, credibility is not acquired through publicity stunts but through building sincere relationships through honesty and candor with all stakeholders.
NAMES OF SECURITY PERSONNEL OMMITED FROM SPECIAL VOTERS LIST
Ladies and Gentlemen, the NDC wishes to salute all our gallant security officers for their excellent roles in the consolidation of our democracy. Each election year, we rely on them to provide security and ensure peace before, during and after elections. We have no doubt that we can rely on our officers in uniform to deliver another peaceful elections. We are however concerned about intelligence reports of infiltration of the security agencies by members of vigilante groups who are giving our otherwise professional security agencies a bad name. We wish to urge our men in uniform to arrest and expose any persons suspected not to be members of the service who will be deployed for election duties. We also urge our men in uniform to stay true to the Constitution and disregard any unlawful orders during this election.
We are concerned about reports of a deliberate attempt to sideline and frustrate some officers who will be deployed for election duties on 7th December. The names of a good number of such officers have been omitted from the special voters list even though their names were submitted for this purpose. Rather names of NPP Parliamentary Candidates and other persons who are not even security officers found their way onto the list. This information was corroborated by a Ghanaweb story published on 18th November, 2020 attributed to Mr. Adam Bona with the title: ‘2020 Elections: Over 60% security personnel omitted from Special Voters list’.
Our suspicion is that this is a deliberate ploy by government to influence the National Election Security Task Force to sideline security personnel and rather use the militias they have trained to cause mayhem.
We are therefore calling on the Inspector-General of Police who is the chairman of the National Election Security Task Force to take IMMEDIATE steps to resolve the issue by ensuring that all security personnel who will be deployed for election duties are placed on the special voters list.
We also call on the Electoral Commission to publish the Special Voters list for all Ghanaians to see. This will help ascertain the fact that only persons who have election related duties are placed on the Special Voters list.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have taken note of assurances given by the Minister for National Security, Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah, and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. James Oppong-Boanuh that adequate security will be provided on Election Day. Ordinarily we should have taken such assurances serious. However, we regret to state that the conduct of the FAILED, CORRUPT AND DISHONEST Akufo-Addo government so far has taught us that when they say we should look right we must immediately look left.
Ghanaians are all witnesses to the state-sponsored Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence that disrupted the by elections rendering many innocent Ghanaians injured. This unprecedented thuggery in Ghana’s election history came to many observers as a shock. In his bid to cover-up and shield the culprits, Akufo-Addo set up a Commission of Inquiry. As expected, the revelations during the Commission’s hearings were rather bizarre and embarrassing. The testimonies before the Commission revealed how state sponsored militia under the cover of National Security Council Secretariat were deployed to usurp the authority of the police who had been assigned to provide security on election day. Below are some of the frightening findings of the Commission.
“The Commission finds, that while there was some semblance of security provided within the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency on the said day of the elections, the otherwise reasonable arrangement was abruptly disrupted by the SWAT team who though were not part of the arrangement, arrived on the scene unannounced”.
“The Commission further finds that the SWAT team which was deployed to the electoral grounds of the La Bawaleshie School Polling station grounds in complete disregard of the officially laid down electoral security arrangement, were officers of the national security establishment”
“A major complaint leading to the establishment of the Commission was the allegation of the reckless use of guns and weapons by the masked SWAT team from the national security establishment. The preponderance of evidence given in oral testimonies and video footages reviewed by the Commission shows that there were gunshots by the men deployed by the national security establishment and that these were done ostensibly to control the crowd which had formed at the frontage of the residence of the candidate of the NDC-a property which was located in an area close to the electoral grounds”
Ladies and Gentlemen, the thugs that were deployed by Bryan Acheampong in the name of National Security visited untold violence on innocent Ghanaians through gunshots and physical assaults rendering many of the injured. The Commission further observed as follows:
“The Commission’s visit to the locus in quo and its examination of the layout, structures, and fixtures in the environment including trees impacted show, that there were many incidents of gunshots and this is inter alia marked by the signs of shallow bullet holes and impact spots created by ejected bullets as verified by a ballistic expert of the Ghana Police Service. In addition, all the bullet holes suggested that the bullets glazed off the trees as none were embedded in a tree and moved on to cause further damage.”
“The Commission finds that on the said day and within the context of the events on the day, several live bullets were fired and accordingly rejects the claim by officers of state who appeared before the Commission, and the commander of the SWAT team that the group only fired six warning shots”
“Further to this, the Commission finds that the warning shots fired were so done in reckless disregard for the safety of persons in the vicinity of this highly built up area. The Commission bases its conclusion on the injuries sustained by persons on the scene in addition to the trajectory of bullets flight and impact on adjoining structures and fixtures, including a hairdressing salon in a metal container nearby. The evidence given by experts and field examination of the impact holes made by travelling bullets suggest that these bullets were fired as “warning shots”. However, as many of the witnesses testified before the Commission, the said shots were fired at the crowd”.
The Commission finds that the guns were not aimed in to the skies as the latter would have resulted in the bullets being ejected into the upwards before returning to earth with a spent force. The apparent reckless abandon with which the SWAT team discharged their guns as a means of crowd control which is indicative of poor training at best, and intent grievously harm, at worst.
Consequently, the Commission finds that the injuries sustained, some of which are serious (including those sustained by Mr. Yaro) were the direct outcome of that reckless and callous disregard for human life. On the other hand, it bears pointing out that the video evidence and testimonies of the parties show that the rampant firing of guns by the SWAT team was the combination of two factors; Firstly a wanton show of force by the SWAT team designed to instill fear in the voting public and the crowd gathered in front of the NDC candidate’s house. Secondly, the seemingly trigger happy attitude shown ,reflects a direct failure on the part of the Commander in charge of the SWAT team, DSP Azugu, to maintain command and control of the SWAT team and ensure the upholding of the highest professional standards in the maintenance of law and order pursuant to the mission for which they were sent. The ensuring chaos was a direct result of his failure of responsibility as a commander of the group who were meant to be on an intelligence-led mission.
“Officials of the National Security council Secretariat testified that there was firing from the crowd hence the number reciprocal of shots fired. However, there was no evidence that this was in fact the case. The direction of the bullet holes on the trees and metal containers also do not bear this story out”.
“The Commission further finds that the ammunition used were live bullets and this further heightens the belief of the Commission that the shots were calculated to cause grievous harm and injury and not to control the crowd. Further, the commission notes that the firing did not follow anyone taking refuge at the school premises. Expert testimony and eye witness accounts indicate that a number of holes on the school building were caused by an attempt to mount a signage marking the building as a donation from a group to the school”.
Further, the Commission finds that the masking of the operatives implies that the Commission is unable to identify with certainty the specific perpetrators of the offence for recommended punishment. The Commission however states that being the commander of the unit, DSP Azugu ought to know who those members of his team were, who may have perpetrated the impugned acts commented on and should reveal this to the police in any criminal investigation that may be opened in the future.
In this regard, the Commission further notes with deep regret the report of the attack of a uniformed police officer by operatives from the National Security Council. Evidence led before the Commission suggested a possible care of man-handling on a police officer operative from the national security against uniformed police officers who were on duty at the Prisons Compound Polling Station at Roman Ridge within the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency.
While evidence has been led before the Commission to the contrary, the Commission finds that the use of masked men in electoral security policing represents a deviation from standard practice in Ghana. Neither the Minister for the Interior nor the Minister for National Security could provide any evidence of a single situation in which masked men armed to the teeth were used to provide security on the electoral grounds where active voting was ongoing under the 4th Republic.
As noted, the use of armed masked men drove fear into the hearts of the voting public and was a disproportionate show of force within the context of a civil electoral exercise.
The Commission also finds, there was a lack of protocol surrounding the giving out of and accountability for weapons and ammunitions as well as general asset inventory-taking upon the completion of missions within the establishment of the National Security.
Despite its ability to use lethal force, the SWAT team has no instructions and procedures for the use of firearms and claims to rely on instructions of the Police Service. Yet, the Commission finds that they used civilians whom they had put in official uniform and armed with guns and Tasers (referred to as “shocker”) but who were not subject to any regime of accountability.
The Minister and his team ought to explain how this force operated outside any rules of accountability in respect of the use of firearms. This became evident in the failure of the Ministry of the National Security to take stock of weapons and ammunitions handed out to operatives and their use. The fact that there are contradictory testimonies on the actual number of bullets fired vis-à-vis shell casings found on the scene reflect an administrative malaise that needs urgent remedying. In the minimum, the situation implicates tracking and traceability issues and can affect any criminal investigations into the improper use of weapons issued out for official assignments. The Commission notes that the failure to manage the process of issuing weapons and ammunitions to officers of the National Security remain problematic and could lead to the wrongful use of arms and ammunitions belonging to the state.
The Commission also noted with regret, the delay in the commencement of criminal investigations leading to possible prosecutions. This undermines the prospects of achieving successful www.modernghana.com 18 prosecutions as evidence could be compromised and tampered with, or memories may fade and trace evidence lost due to the impact of loss of time. This omission is directly traceable to the police and the need to commence immediate and publicly verifiable investigation cannot be overemphasized.
Ladies and Gentlemen, three good years after that dastardly incident, Akufo-Addo is yet to implement a single recommendation of the Commission. Therefore our position is that if the Minister for National Security and the Inspector-General of Police of police want us to take them serious, the first thing we expect from the is to provide update to Ghanaians on the state of implementation of the recommendations of the Emile Short Commission including sanctioning of the culprits and other reforms.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me remind you of some of the recommendations to see for yourselves if they have been implemented:
The Commission recommended the criminal prosecution of Mr. Ernest Akomea alias ‘Double’ for the unauthorized possession of firearms contrary to section 192(1) of the Criminal Offences Act.
The Commission recommended the criminal prosecution for the offence of assault, to wit, the slapping of Mr. Samuel George by Mohammed Sulemana.
The Commission recommended the immediate removal of DSP Samuel Kojo Azugu from command responsibility at the Ministry of National Security given his failure to appropriately command and control the SWAT team of which he had charge during the operation at the La Bawaleshie school polling station. It was recommended that he should be reassigned by the IGP.
The Commission recommended the reprimand of Colonel Mike Opoku, for being ultimately responsible for the outcome of the SWAT operation at the La Bawaleshie School Polling Station. His liability is further reinforced by his failure to properly define the mission for which the SWAT team was sent and ensuring that the SWAT team complied with the defined mission .Further, he failed to conduct an internal inquiry into identifying the culprits of the offence when revelations became rife that there were operational lapses resulting in violations of human rights.
It was further recommended, that Col. Opoku be made to immediately release the weapons used for, as well as the persons involved in, the operation to enable ballistic testing and analysis to be undertaken and for further investigations by the police.
The Commission recommended that Mr. Bryan Acheampong be reprimanded for his ultimate responsibility as Minister in authorizing an operation of that character on a day of an election in a built up area. Not only has Bryan Acheampong not been reprimanded, Akufo-Addo reassigned him to Ministry of the Interior a ministry that is ultimately responsible for election security. With this development, your guess is as good as mine.
The security situation in the country remains volatile and bizarre even though the FAILED, CORRUPT AND DISHONEST Akufo-Addo government has the highest number of appointees in the security sector in Ghana’s history.
It is common knowledge that just as Akufo-Addo did in opposition by actively mobilisng and forming vigilante groups across the country and went ahead to bring in South Africans to train them, this same Akufo-Addo has facilitated the training of many vigilante groups across the country for deployment to intimidate voters and cause mayhem especially in opposition strongholds to suppress votes and also chase out our polling agents from polling stations in their strongholds.
We have observed with keen interest how Akufo-Addo is busy finding excuses for a heavy deployment of security personnel to the Volta Region in particular through a charade of state sponsored disturbances in the Volta Region purportedly done by the rather peaceful Homeland Study Group. The grand strategy as we have uncovered is to cause mayhem is the Volta Region to cause fear among the electorate in the region as a voter suppression strategy and use same as justification for heavy security deployment in the region before elections to cause fear and panic among voters again with the ultimate aim of suppressing votes in the Region. It is for this reason that the IGP announced in October that more security personnel will be deployed to the Volta Region.
We wish to inform the IGP that we are aware of plans to give police uniforms to vigilante groups to pose as police officers for deployment in the Volta Region and we wish to advise him that it is in the best interest of the police to abandon such plans. We wish to further advise that the uniforms of such officers should be properly marked with their names and service numbers for easy identification. We are sending a stern warning to people who are not police officers but allow themselves to be used to cause mayhem in the Volta Region
We wish to encourage the people of the Volta Region to remain fearless throughout the Electioneering period. Security personnel who will be deployed for election duties are supposed to protect the ballot and ensure peace and not to harm you. We have set up a Citizens Arrest Task Force in each Constituency to arrest and hand over any suspicious characters in police uniform that will be deployed to the region. In addition, we call on the Christian community in the Volta Region to pray against any such disturbances. Adherents of African Traditional Religion should equally call on their deities to protect them from any harm that may be caused before during and after the elections.
The history of the bravery and fearlessness of the people of the Volta Region should not be lost on the people of the region. We recall how the people of the region through wit and Wisdom, escaped the tyrant leadership of King Agorkoli of Nortsie in Benin. It is with this great wisdom that the people of the Volta Region must work to escape the tyranny of Akufo-Addo who is the present day Agorkoli. We hereby call on all traditional Asafo groups in all traditional areas to be on high alert and collaborate with legitimate security personnel to flush out any miscreants in their communities.
VIDEO OF POLICE OFFICERS
Our attention has been drawn to a video of persons in a police vehicle with registration number GP 2619 that has brought memories of the dastardly state sponsored violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by elections. We have also taken note of the general public’s apprehension about the said video that necessitated a press release from the Police Service. We must state that the statement from the police service dated 20th November, 2020 and signed by Mrs. Shiella Kessie Abayie-Buckaman, Director of Public Affairs is disappointing to say the least. According to the Police Service, “persons seen in the video are ‘sworn officers’ of the Ghana Police Service who were engaged in a special operation route march in the Upper East Region”. It is strange that the police service failed to specifically name the officers involved. We also wonder if it the Police Service Instructions permit police officers to record such videos and out same in the public domain. It is therefore strange that the Police administration found nothing wrong with the conduct of the police officers in question but rather endorsed such a conduct. We are therefore calling on the Police Administration to disclose the identities of the officers in question including their service numbers to prove that they are ‘sworn officers’. We are also urging the IGP to take disciplinary action against the said officers to discourage such acts of indiscipline in the service.
Again, our intelligence reveals that the NPP ordered police uniforms for vigilantes from the company that is producing uniforms for the police. We are therefore calling on the IGP to investigate this allegation and bring the perpetrators to book.
We have also seen videos of Soldiers allegedly deployed to Damango in a helicopter by Samuel Abu Jinapor ostensibly to intimidate voters in the area. We wish to sound a note of caution that such acts will not be tolerated in this election.
THREATS ON ACCESS SOCIAL MEDIA ON ELECTION DAY
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have had serious concerns about the deliberate interference in internet services. Reliable information available to us suggests that government has advanced plans to shut down or limit social media and internet access through Joseph Anokye, Director-General of the National Communication Authority. We are deeply concerned about this development as it threatens free expression and information dissemination during elections. We believe this is part of the grand agenda of the FAILED Akufo-Addo government to curtail free flow of information on election day as a way of covering up state sponsored violent activities and rigging as it happened in the Ayawaso West Wuogo bye-election.
USE OF MOBILE PHONES AT POLLING STATION
We have taken note of the EC’s public announcement and educational campaigns discouraging the use of mobile phones at polling stations. This directive is illegal as it infringes on the rights of voters. We note that the EC rationalized this illegal directive by explaining that they don’t want voters to take pictures of persons they vote for because that will compromise the secrecy of their votes. However, this development happens only during party primaries and not during general elections. The EC cannot use that as an excuse to deny voters access to their phones at polling stations.
We are calling on voters to be vigilant at polling stations. We encourage voters to take pictures and videos of election day activities especially happenings at the polling stations and share them widely on social media.
BALLOT PAPERS WITH DUPLICATE SERIAL NUMBERS
Our constituency executives in the Eastern Region discovered ballot papers with duplicate serial numbers during sorting in Koforidua on Sunday 22, November, 2020 for the Akwapem South constituency. They observed that “For the ballot papers in the presidential booklets, we noticed that the one which is in tens – instead of 142 pieces of the booklets we had 141 booklets which means there is a shortage by one. On the other hand, 50 of the booklets had duplicate serial numbers on the ballot papers. With the Parliamentary, there was shortage of one booklet with two duplicate booklets with same serial numbers on ballot papers.”
ILLEGAL PUBLICATION OF VOTERS DATA
We all woke up last week to realize that the Electoral Commission published sensitive data of all registered voters in breach of the Data Protection Act and their right to privacy. This singular irresponsible act of the Electoral Commission has the potential of exposing voters to criminals.
It is so shameful that Jean Mensa is defending such illegal and irresponsible act. How on earth will Jean Mensa say that the law enjoins the EC to publish the voters register and that’s what they have done? At least Jean Mensa should credit Ghanaians with a modicum of respect and stop insulting our intelligence.
The law requires the Electoral Commission to publish the VOTERS REGISTER on its website and also give copies to political parties. The law does not permit the EC to publish the sensitive personal data of voters. It is the same Electoral Commission that drafted the CI and therefore Jean Mensa is aware that it is not all the data collected during the registration of voters that goes into the register. Some three weeks ago, the Electoral Commission gave copies of the final voters register to political parties. It is this register that the EC is required to publish on its website. What the EC published on google drive is not the voters register it gave to political parties. It is interesting that Jean Mensa doesn’t know the difference between voters data and the voters register. The best thing the Jean Mensa can do is to apologise to Ghanaians so that we can help her to clear the mess she has created.
THE MYSTERIOUS 541 VOTERS LIST
Ladies and Gentlemen, after the certified register has been published and given to all political parties, the EC has suddenly brought up a list of 541 persons claiming they registered but their names were not captured on the register. As a social democratic party we believe in citizens’ right to exercise their franchise. Under no circumstance should eligible voters be disenfranchised through no fault of theirs. However, the integrity of the electoral process is equally important. The conduct of the EC raises suspicions and many questions are begging for answers. How did the names of those persons disappear from the register only to reappear after the final register has been finalized and given to political parties? Such acts by the Electoral Commission only discredit the electoral process by creating more suspicion.
DISCREPANCY IN THE STATEMENT POLL
Per regulation 32(7) of CI 127 states:
“At the end of the voting and before counting of the ballots the number of persons manually verified shall be entered in the second box in C6 on the statement of poll for the office of member of parliament as set out in FORM EIGHT A of the schedule and the statement of Poll for the office of president as set out in form EIGHT B of the schedule”
Ladies and Gentlemen, contrary to this provision in the law together with the FORM EIGHT of the schedule, the EC has deliberately altered the form in the law and given a different form to its officials. Section C 6 of the statement of poll (popularly known as pink sheet), reads
What is the total number of people verified to vote? (press F2 on the BVD)………………….
Number of persons manually verified…………………
This means that the number of persons verified by the biometric verification device must be recorded separately from those verified manually at the end of voting.
However, for some strange reason, the section on the form that the number of persons verified on the Biometric Verification Device should be recorded has disappeared. The implication is that there will be no distinction between persons who were verified biometrically and persons verified manually. This is an illegality designed to rig the elections. We are therefore calling on the EC to replace the FORM EIGHT with the correct form in the schedule of the CI 127 with IMMEDIATE EFFECT.
SANTROKOFI, AKPAFU AND LOLOBI (SAL)
The Justice Brobbey Commission in its work on the creation of new regions caused a big problem at Santrokofi, Akpafu and Lolobi. These Communities were originally part of the Hohoe constituency in the Volta Region but have now been placed under Oti Region. As result, they are in a dilemma as to which parliamentary candidate to vote for. In an action before the Supreme Court in this instant matter, the court ruled that a constituency cannot span two different regions. Unfortunately, this issue remains unresolved. The people in the affected communities are agitated. We are therefore calling on government and the EC to take immediate steps to address the problem before election.
AKUFO-ADDO’S FAILURE TO ACTIVATE THE PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION PROCESS
Section 6 (1) of the Presidential Transition Act, 2012 (Act 845) states:
The Office of the President shall prepare a set of comprehensive handing-over notes covering the term of office of the president as the executive authority under article 58 of the constitution.
Section 6(4) of the Act states
“The original and five other copies of the handing over notes shall be presented to the Administrator-General appointed under section 8(2) NOT LATER THAN THIRTY DAYS BEFORE THE DATE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION”
It is exactly 11 days to elections and president Akufo-Addo who prides himself as a democrat who believes in the rule of law has failed to comply with the Act. We also have information that the Administrator-General has retired but a new one has not been appointed.
We are calling on President Akufo-Addo to trigger the transition process by preparing his handing over notes and also appoint a new Administrator-General to oversee the transition process within 24 hours after the declaration of results.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to conclude by stating that, there’s no power that can stop a determined people from removing a bad government.
In Akufo-Addo’s own words:
“The democracy we fought for gives us the right to elect a government every four years and it provides us with an opportunity to hold our government accountable and renew a mandate or throw them out after four years.
NO GOVERNMENT HAS AN AUTOMATIC RIGHT TO BE ELECTED TWICE.
We should not give government a sense of the right to be elected twice unless they perform and unless they deliver on the promises they made while seeking our vote”
It is evident that the Akufo-Addo’s family and friends government has failed and nothing can save them from the wrath of Ghanaians come 7th December.
What cannot change is the will of the people expressed through the ballot box and everyone including Jean Mensa and EC are required to ensure that only the will of the people prevail. The EC has created a credibility crisis for itself but it is not too late for them to change their ways and build trust.
The government and the EC must ensure compliance with international norms and practices and we are pleased to note that International Observers are present to observe out elections. practices. Therefore, no one is going to get any visa to run away from this country after creating any confusion and violence. All stakeholders must ensure that there is peace, before, during and after elections.
We urge all Ghanaians to be patriotic and courageous by coming out in their numbers to vote and to ensure that only their sovereign will prevails at the end of the elections. It is not enough to vote. We must ensure that our vote is protected. We must remain vigilant until the last ballot is counted and results declared. Our fore fathers paid a price to attain independence. Others fought for a multi-party democracy. This is the price we must also pay to protect our democracy.