Gunshots Rock Biometric Voter Registration Exercise
Several incidents, including bloody attacks, characterized the opening of the biometric voter registration exercise which started on Saturday.
A bus with passengers was rained with bullets allegedly on the instruction of a District Chief Executive (DCE) at Akomadan in the Offinso North District of the Ashanti Region.
In nearby Brong Ahafo Region, registration in two communities in the Asunafo South District was suspended following bloody incidents during the first day of the biometric registration exercise in the area.
The Electoral Commission (EC) subsequently withdrew its field staff in the affected towns, Dantano and Nobekaw, where the violence broke out on Saturday morning.
In the case of Akomadan, three people who traveled from Kumasi to register sustained varying degrees of injury when their bus was attacked, DAILY GUIDE gathered.
The driver of the Yutong bus with registration number GC 4910 Z, was also injured in the unprovoked attack and the injured were rushed to the Nkenkaasu Government Hospital for treatment.
Being natives of the town, known for its large-scale tomato production, but residing in Kumasi, the people decided to organize themselves and travel to their home town, as they normally did, to register.
Having arrived at about 10:00pm on Friday and after many of the commuters had alighted, DAILY GUIDE learnt that the bus was accosted by a Mahindra pickup vehicle with registration number GR 2602-12 at Nkramum, a suburb of the town.
After accosting them, occupants in the ash pickup vehicle belonging to the District Assembly, allegedly led by one Asare, the District NADMO Coordinator, and Matardi, the driver of the District Chief Executive (DCE) Appiah Kubi, and other five machomen, started firing shots at the bus.
In view of this, the windscreen of the bus was damaged, with bullet marks, compelling the driver to stop, thereby giving the said people access to the vehicle.
Once they got access to the bus, the macho men subjected to severe beatings, the three remaining persons on the bus and the driver, injuring them in the process.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Collins Ntim, who happened to be in town, according to sources, after receiving the information, rushed to the scene and took the injured persons to the hospital.
It would be recalled that in the latter part of last year, a similar shooting incident occurred when confusion broke out between the MP and the DCE over the fixing of street lights in the town.
Joseph Yammin going through the biometric registrationexcercise on SaturdayThe DCE, who contested the MP in the 2008 elections but lost, had been elected by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to again contest the forthcoming parliamentary polls on the ticket of the party.
Because of this, checks conducted by the paper revealed that the acrimony between the DCE and the MP had heightened, therefore when information reached him that some people had been bused to come and register, he suspected the MP of having a hand in it and therefore allegedly organized men to attack them.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that more casualties would have been recorded had most of the occupants not alighted.
The bus, the paper learnt, had been taken to the police station where an official report was lodged.
A police source who wanted to remain anonymous confirmed the incident and indicated that investigations would be launched into it.
Bloody Registration At Asunafo South
The EC suspended the exercise in the affected communities in Asunafo South for fear that its officers might be caught in the crossfire.
The Asunafo South District Electoral Officer, Reverend Osei Bonsu Nsiah, who confirmed the incident to DAILY GUIDE, said some youth in the affected communities stormed the registration centres and forced out of the queue, some people whom they suspected were not qualified to register.
He said even though the youth knew about the remedies they could resort to in protest against suspected unqualified persons, they however resorted to violence to register their concerns.
According to Rev Osei Bonsu, the matter had been reported to the police and investigations into it were underway.
He disclosed that they were waiting for further instructions from the regional EC office to know what to do about the registration in the two affected communities.
Meanwhile, reports from other parts of the constituency indicate that operatives of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) have been hopping from one registration centre to the other, visiting violence on innocent residents who had gone there to discharge their civic responsibilities.
This paper learnt that over eight NPP supporters had been butchered by the NDC thugs who were christened ‘Bantama Boys’, under bizarre circumstances.
The notorious group allegedly received a GH¢500 funding from the Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Eric Opoku, the NDC parliamentary candidate for the constituency.
On Saturday, the police issued medical forms to a number of NPP supporters in the area who formally lodged complaint with the security agencies about the brutal attacks on their lives in order to receive medical attention.
Robert Antwi, an NPP activist who was distributing party accreditation tags to NPP polling agents in the constituency, was for instance beaten to pulp after the ‘Bantama Boys’ had intercepted his vehicle.
The NDC thugs kidnapped Antwi after subjecting him to severe beatings and later dumped him in the Sankore forest.
Another NPP activist, Enoch Nyame, was kidnapped by the NDC hooligans and given a brutal beating and later dumped at the outskirts of the Nobekaw Township.
The Asunafo South Constituency Research Officer of the NPP, Crentsil Nyarko, told DAILY GUIDE that the NDC’s plan was to disrupt the registration process in all NPP strongholds in the constituency by initiating acts of violence to deter people and registration officials from coming out to undertake the exercise.
The incumbent MP of the area, George Yaw Boakye, who expressed his frustrations about the nasty happenings in the constituency, put the blame on the doorstep of Eric Opoku who had sworn heaven and earth to unseat him at all cost.
NDC Threatens Biometric Boycott
Meanwhile, the NDC in the Ashanti Region has threatened to boycott the registration exercise.
Issuing the threat, the Ashanti Regional Secretary of the NDC, Joseph Yammin said the ruling party was not happy about the manner in which the EC was conducting the exercise in the region, hence their decision to withdraw from the national exercise.
He was particularly angry about lack of essential materials for the exercise, such as the ‘challenge form’, which was needed to make the exercise effective at almost all the registration centers in the region, especially in the Kumasi Metropolis.
He told DAILY GUIDE that touring the registration centers in Kumasi on the first day of the 40-day national exercise, he had observed that there were no challenge forms in almost all the centers in the city.
Though he could not state whether the EC had taken that action on purpose to favour a particular political party, Yammin insisted that the EC had erred “and until they provide the challenge forms, the NDC would boycott the registration exercise by Monday morning”.