The Electoral Commission of Ghana has issued a statement condemning the firing of gunshots at one of its registration centres within the Awutu Senya East Constituency (Kasoa) in the Central Region on Monday, 20 July 2020.
In a statement, the EC said it has noted “with concern” some acts of violence at some registration centres across the country “in the form of physical and verbal attacks on its officials”.
The violence, the election management body said, “is perpetuated by political party supporters and sympathisers”.
“One of such incidents occurred today [Monday] at the Step to Christ voter registration centre in the Awutu Senya East Constituency in the Central Region where unidentifiable gunmen attacked officials at the centre and disrupted the process by firing gun shots”, the statement said.
The election management body said it “condemns such acts during a civil exercise like the registration of voters and calls on security agencies to investigate the issue as a matter of urgency to bring the perpetrators to book”.
Such violence, he said, “constitute a breach of the Vigilante and Related Offenses Act, 2019 Act 999”.
The Act, the EC reminded the parties, “seeks to disband violent activities of political parties and makes political vigilantism an offence punishable by a prison term”.
“The Commission reminds the public, particularly political party agents, that any person who wishes to challenge an applicant on the basis of ineligibility must fill a Challenge Form, which will then be presented to the District Registration Review Committee for a ruling on the matter”, he said.
The Commission said political party agents are, therefore, cautioned against the use of violence to challenge a person’s eligibility.
The Commission, further called on the public to “condemn the violence” and urged all eligible voters to “turn out in their numbers to register to vote in the 2020 general election”.
On Monday, the Minister of Special Development Initiatives, Mavis Hawa Koomson, said she fired the warning shots that marred the voter registration exercise at that particular centre.
The MP for the Constituency said she took a gun to the centre for personal protection in her attempt to stop the parliamentary candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Phyllis Naa Koryoo, from busing aliens to the area to register.
“None of my men carried guns to the centre”, she told Accra-based Adom FM, adding: “I fired the warning shots myself”.
“I’m a Member of Parliament, I need to protect myself. It was at dawn; my police escort had not started work yet. So, that is the modus operandi I engaged in his absence”, she said.
There was confusion at the Step To Christ registration centre during the voter registration exercise when heavily-muscled gun-wielding men stormed the premises to disrupt the exercise.
Officials of the Electoral Commission took to their heels when the men, numbering about 15, ransacked the place.
According to eyewitnesses, this led to a scuffle and pandemonium as the live bullets wrung into the air.
At least, three motorbikes were burnt in the mayhem.