Minister of State in charge of National Security Bryan Acheampong has expressed surprise at the wide condemnation of the hooded, masked and heavily armed security operatives deployed close to a polling station in the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.
The gun-toting men in black and khaki trousers whose action led to a shooting incident and chaotic scene at the Bawaleshie Presby polling station and the injury of at least six persons have since Thursday morning grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons.
Some of the men were alleged to have assaulted the Member of Parliament for Prampram, Sam George, for questioning the violent shooting incident that forced the National Democratic Congress to pull-out of the by-election won by the New Patriotic Party candidate.
Various civil society groups and organisations including the UN agency for development, the UNDP, have unequivocally condemned the violent acts of the hooded men, and warned Ghana against complacency over its touted peaceful atmosphere.
It, however, appears the widespread condemnations have not gone on well with the Minister who rather wants his men should be given some accolades for serving the interest of the public.
Mr. Acheampong observed there were a lot of misinformation going around the issue, and “judgement [is] being passed on that misinformation” against the operation.
He justified the deployment of the gun-toting national security men to the area during voting hours, stating they were only acting on actionable intelligence which they had been working on for the last month.
“I think that at least those who are working to protect the public good deserve some commendation for following up on the intelligence; something that we have been working on for the past one month,” he said
Speaking on Joy FM Saturday afternoon, Mr. Acheampong who is also the MP for Abetifi decline to reveal the nature of the intelligence and also whether Thursday’s operation was successful, claiming the issue “is still under active investigations”.
However, he said they arrested 9 people in at the scene of the shooting incident, noting six of them who tried to resist arrest were injured, but described the injuries as minor.
The minister said they “received intelligence; information about some stuff movement here and there that we tried, traced and then we neutralised. That information, I may not be comfortable sharing on air”.
According to him, the information they received was beyond the by election, stating “it’s a massive operation of movement of certain things that is undesirable to the public”.
“As we speak now our men are actively engaged in unravelling the thing that we suspected it is, so it has not ended; when it ends and we deem it fit to apprise the public with that information, we will,” he indicated.
He added: “We have intelligence, we go to the scene of the suspected location, we deal with the situation and I’m not too sure those who went there for the public good are the ones being blamed”.
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The minister assured that if in the course of the operation his men misconducted themselves in anyway, that will be an issue they will deal with, saying “If the operatives that were sent there, they misconducted themselves, that one we will deal with it”.
The Minister also denied claims that the electoral taskforce provided security to only one of the four candidates that vied for the election.
“The information that we had operatives in only one of the candidate’s house is not true.We have an election taskforce made up of Police, National Security, Immigration Customs triggered and we deployed to all the homes of the aspirants; the parliamentary candidates”.
That, he explained, was a “standard protocol” in every election in the country because they do that to protect every candidate be it in the presidential or parliamentary.