Minister for National Security Albert Kan-Dapaah says police personnel present during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election were rather armed, and that no operative deployed from the National Security had arms.
The Minister disclosed this on Thursday, February 14, when he took his turn before the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating the violence during the January 31 by-election.
The Emile Short Commission of Inquirywas established by President Nana Akufo-Addo, following reported incidents at La-Bawaleshie Presby Primary School.
Mr Kan-Dapaah’s assertion contradicts what the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, told the Commission earlier in the day.
Mr. Dery told the Commission that he was informed by the Inspector General of Police that no police officer was armed while performing their duties in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency.
“The position of the IGP is that he did not deploy any armed personnel on the day,” Mr. Dery told the Commission.
He also said the vehicle used by some masked men purported to be National Security operatives was not for the Police Service, although these cars are branded with the Ghana Police Service logo.
But taking his turn before the Commission, the National Security Minister debunked the assertions by the Interior Minister.
“As per our standard practices, the National Security operatives are not allowed to hold weapons during operations, and I am aware that on that Thursday operation, the operatives did not carry guns.
“On the other hand, all the uniformed police men who were part of the operation were armed,” he told the Commission.
According to Mr. Kan-Dapaah, there is a special unit at the Office of National Security – which is the SWAT team – and it has uniformed police men and other security services.
He said SWAT deployed 60 men, comprising of 25 uniformed officers and 35 operatives of the National Security on the day of the by-election, and that they were under the command of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.
”The SWAT team at the National Security headquarters has some vehicles allocated to them for their day-to-day use. Some of them come from the police and are painted in police colors and some are not painted, but are available to the SWAT team,” he added.
Masked men and shooting incident
Addressing the issue of some armed masked men within the area and reported to have attacked and shot some persons, the National Security Minister said they were acting on intelligence gathered.
Some of these men are reported to have gone to the residence of the NDC candidate in the by-election, Delali Kwasi Brempong, and shot some persons in the house, and injuring them in the process.
Speaking to the issue, Mr. Kan-Dapaah said the men had gathered intelligence that some persons were keeping arms at the NDC candidate’s residence.
“I am told that for this operation, they were acting based on intelligence report that there were weapons in the building within the constituency where the by-election was taking place. They therefore mounted surveillance around the place so that they can stop the use of the weapons and if it was possible to retrieve the weapons without any confrontation.
“They were informed that the building was used as the operation headquarters of the NDC candidate,” he said.
On why the operatives were masked, Mr. Kan-Dapaah said the mask is part of them, and that this is not the first time they were seen wearing them.
“We were also told that they had covered their faces, that is nothing new. In the past, it has been displayed openly during national independence day celebration where security agencies come to display with weapons.
“When they go, they are dressed no differently than they were dressed when they undertook this operation. So they have always been part of the SWAT team,” he said.