OccupyGhana® has noted with grave concern, the news reports that the Special Development Initiatives Minister and Awutu Senya East MP, Mrs. Hawa Koomson, allegedly fired a gun at a registration centre in her constituency. We note that the Minister has admitted to this.
OccupyGhana® has had occasion, especially in the wake of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, to condemn the use of violence in our electoral politics, whether by government agents or private persons. The use of force or violence is a crime under our laws, unless there is reasonable justification, and within the strict bounds provided by law. Specifically, it is a crime to fire a weapon ‘in a town without lawful and necessary occasion.’ Possession of a firearm ‘without lawful excuse’ is a first-degree felony. And it is also a crime to have an offensive weapon while in a public place, public meeting, or at a public assembly of people, ‘without lawful authority.’
We condemn all election-related violence. We also condemn the inexplicable circumstances under which the Minister took a loaded weapon to the registration centre in the first place, when the Minister has police guard, paid for by the state and whose job is to protect her.
Further, the law that regulates the registration of voters also provides a process for challenging ineligible people who register or attempt to do so. That is what should be followed, if people are breaking the law. No individual has the mandate or power to seek to prevent others from registering simply because that individual believes that the law is being flouted.
In a country governed by the Rule of Law, you do not prevent an alleged breach of the law, by breaching the law yourself. What the Minister did endangered the lives of not only the political actors, but innocent people whose only interest in being at the registration centre, was ostensibly to exercise their constitutional right to be registered and to vote in the coming elections.
We cannot have a registration exercise and then an election where people would feel so threatened that they would either stay at home and not vote at all, or go to the registration or polling stations armed. Ghanaians are already battling the spread of the dreadful coronavirus. This should not be combined with needless threats to our lives and safety.
We call on the police to quickly investigate the circumstances under which this incident occurred. If it is found that the Minister breached the law, she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible under the law.
In the Service of God & Country