The Director of Operations at National Security has for the first time explained why security operatives who stormed the NDC candidate’s house during the by-election, had masks on.
Colonel Micheal Opoku (Retired), told the Emile Short Commission that the masked men who stormed the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency in intimidating security gear, were there for confidence building.
He told the Commission Wednesday that it was part of moves to assure voters, the security was on top of their game and no militia group can disrupt the day’s activities.
“The essence of the confidence patrol was to let the people within the constituency know that the security forces were ready to ensure that no vigilante group as they are known to be, could disturb the election on that day…,” he explained.
He added that: “The mask as my DSP [Azugu] said was for [prevent] mosquito bites, was just a joke. But we normally mask to ensure that our operatives are not seen especially, normally, those who live within or are likely to be seen in the communities and their cover to be blown, are masked,” he said.
Several armed masked men stormed the candidate’s house at La Bawaleshie on intelligence that some arms were being stockpiled there.
At least 16 people were injured in a scuffle that ensued afterward and several Ghanaians have condemned the SWAT team for donning masks.
But while national security has called this activity confidence-building, a member of the Commission Prof. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu has suggested, it was confidence-sapping.
Colonel Opoku who was certain masked men instilled confidence in the electorate as they went about their duties, promised to provide a tape to the Commission about threats to these men.
“I will give you an audio where some people were saying they were going to go after the masked men. I don’t know how they are going to unmask them and if the worse should happen, they are likely to kidnap their family to ensure they come forward,” he said.
According to him, a decision had been taken for the operatives to wear masks, before they set off to the constituency, adding it has been a “normal practice” even at the headquarters.
This was contradictory as commander of the SWAT Unit of National Security, DSP Samuel Azugu had earlier told the Commission he did not know why the team he led to duty during the by-election wore masks.
He told the Commission there are instances when the team is allowed to put on masks but that particular operation did not require that they put them on and he is unable to tell why they did.
But Colonel Opoku said he won’t be surprised he said that “because he was here [sitting] for almost four hours and his thinking capabilities started giving him problems so he had to make some jokes out of these things.”
Colonel Opoku also defended the presence of the security operatives saying they were instructed to monitor and provide surveillance.
He also stated there was no need to have shared with the police, the intelligence they had picked.