The Member of Parliament for Banda in the Bono Region, Ahmed Ibrahim, has called out the military for preventing the Voltarian community in that part of the country from taking part in the voter registration exercise, which ends on Thursday, 6 August 2020.
He told Kofi Oppong Asamoah on Class91.3FM’s 12Live mid-day news on Monday, 3 August 2020 that the Voltarian fishermen who traversed the lake to get registered, were left adrift for over five hours before being allowed by the soldiers to disembark for the exercise,
The opposition lawmaker said the military personnel have been threatening the Voltarian communities in the area as far as the registration exercise is concerned.
“We must let the laws work”, he fumed, adding: “Every ordinary resident in the Banda constituency must be allowed to register, whether you’re Banda or a Voltarian”.
Secondly, he noted that the traditional council has written a letter to the Regional Security Council and the Regional Coordinating Council “saying that everybody, ordinary person in the Banda constituency must be allowed to register and they’ve mentioned the Voltarian communities, about 32 of them, that they are part of the constituency and these are parts of the communities that you can go to and check for yourself”.
“They’ve been here, they’ve been voting, they have the Ghana card and they have the old voter register, so why now?” he wondered.
Mr Ibrahim Ahmed’s frustration ties in that of the General Secretary of his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, who had to engage some soldiers in the area in an argument for preventing some residents from registering.
These developments occurred a day after the flag bearer of the NDC, former President John Mahama, posted a similar video on his Facebook wall along with allegations that President Nana Akufo-Addo is using the army to prevent Ewes and non-Akans from taking part in the registration exercise.
In a statement on Saturday, 1 August 2020, Mr Mahama said: “This is not the Ghana our forebears toiled for and built!”
“Each and every successive President”, he noted, “left a peaceful, stable and united country”.
However, he observed, “The road President Akufo-Addo is taking our beautiful country through, using the military and party thugs to stop people from exercising their right to register and vote in the upcoming December elections, is dangerous and unacceptable”.
He alleged: ‘There have been many reports and video evidence, like the one in this post, of the President’s deployment and discriminatory use of soldiers to target our brothers and sisters in the Volta Region and wherever there are settlements of Voltarians and non-Akans”.
The flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) said: “Executive power must not be used to foment ethnic discrimination and abuse as is happening under Nana Akufo-Addo”.
“These calculated acts of ‘dehumanisation, disenfranchising Ghanaians and stripping them of their citizenship’ must end”, he insisted.
He promised: “They will surely never happen under a new NDC administration because we will foster a spirit of peace and unity in our nation”.
As Commander-in-Chief, Mr Mahama pledged, “I will not use our military in such a partisan manner to terrorise our own people, and in matters that are purely civil and dwell in the very heart of our constitutional democracy”.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Ghana has said the exercise has entered its sixth and final phase starting today, Saturday, 1 August 2020.
The exercise ends on Thursday, 6 August 2020.
The election management body has, thus, urged eligible voters who have not yet registered to try and do so.
It said in a statement that it is ensuring strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols at the centres.
“The Commission assures members of the public that it will enforce all the safety protocols at all Registration Centres throughout the country,” it added.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul has denied Mr Mahama’s allegations.
“The government has not conceived of, the government did not plan, the government has no intention, the government will not plan and will never have an intention of suppressing any potential voter who is a Ghanaian, who is qualified and who is of sound mind and above 18 years from registering”, Mr Nitiwul told the parliamentary press corps on Monday, 3 July 2020.
“We have over 30,000 polling stations across the country. Of course, there’s been incidences in one or two polling stations but generally, this registration has been very peaceful and has been very orderly”, he said.
He explained that the presence of the army is to foil infiltration by aliens.
“As I stated before, we deployed the military to the borders to support the Immigration Service to ensure that the borders remain firmly closed and that no human goes into Ghana or outside Ghana”, he noted.
The Bimbilla MP said: “If there will be any movement, then it’s going to be cargo”.
“Cargo is allowed to come into the country, cargo is allowed to move out of the country. Of course, cargo vehicles are driven by human beings but for human traffic, whether by foot, by air, by sea, under the ground, or whichever means, the military was tasked to support the immigration and resisted all of them”, he added.
“And we know that people have tried and continue to try to come into this country”, he revealed.
According to him, “during the lockdown period, we had over 5,000 people try to cross into this country and these were arrested by the Immigration Service. You can imagine the numbers that were arrested”, he said.
“The former president is wrong and misled to think that the military is being used to suppress people. The Volta Region he cited, can anybody tell me that the figures in the Volta Region are lower than the national average? Obviously not. So, where is the voter suppression? Are the figures in the Northern Region lower than the national average? Obviously not. Are the figures in the Greater Accra Region also lower than the national average? It is also a no. So, where is the voter suppression here again? We also have over 30,000 registration centres, how many centres have we seen military personnel visit for anybody to conclude there is voter suppression? Of course, they have visited registration centres where there is trouble and they will continue to places where there is trouble but for anybody to conclude, especially a former president and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, to conclude there is voter suppression, he is misleading the people.”