Information reaching DAILY GUIDE indicates that barely two weeks to the December general elections, the Attorney General’s Department has failed to expedite action on the dockets of several hoodlums picked up between March and April 2012, by the Police for engaging in violence during the Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) exercise.
The dockets which have been shelved at the AG’s department for several months included those of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) thugs who audaciously went on rampage on the street of Odododiodio constituency in Accra to intimidate opponents from engaging in the BVR exercise.
These dozens of hooligans were publicly brandishing offensive weapons such as machetes, axes wooden planks and were captured by media cameras attacking key opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) members, Ursula Owusu and Abu Jinapor.
According to Prof. Miranda Greenstreet, Co-Chairperson of local election observer group, Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) at a press conference on Tuesday to outdoor the group’s findings on their observation of the BVR exercise, these were not the only dockets lying idle at the AG’s department. There were also dockets of two suspects involved in West Mamprusi BVR violence that saw over seven residential buildings razed to the ground.
Also, CODEO alerted there were a lot more violent acts during the registration exercise which appeared to have lost the interest of police or the AG. These included the incident of a gang of ‘macho’ men believed to have been contracted by the NDC to attack Electoral Commission registration officers and destroy their registration kits and another incident involving the attack on 16 NPP activists assaulted by NDC groups in the Sankore, Dantano and Asunafo South district of the Brong Ahafo region.
According to John Larvie, the National Coordinator of CODEO, when they asked the police about what could possibly be delaying the prosecution of these cases, the police always passed the buck back to the AG’s department. However, upon interrogating officials of the AG’s their response have always alluded to the fact that the police did not properly prepare the dockets, hence, attracting technical difficulties.
Attempts by DAILY GUIDE to get information on the situation from the Deputy Attorney General, Ebo Barton Odro, yielded no response as he directed the paper to go ask the Director of Public Prosecution.
Apart from exposing the lapses in prosecuting culprits cited for violent acts during the BVR, CODEO has issued a comprehensive report on their findings on the last BVR. According to Prof. Greenstreet, this report would serve as an important guide to all stakeholders in the December elections.
The report is a painstaking effort spanning more than eight months and it was aimed properly preparing stakeholders on what they needed to do to make the elections incident-free. The report cited the anomalies in the registration process involving the registration of minors, double registration, breakdown of equipment and general turnout during the registration.
Generally, CODEO concluded that the BVR was a success: “CODEO is of the view that while the BVR may not be a perfect document, its quality is substantial and therefore an improvement that would contribute to credible and peaceful 2012 elections.”
However, the CODEO alerted the Electoral Commission (EC) that to avert a potential national crisis, during the elections in December, the EC should provide the verification machines that would be used to validate the electorate adequate protection from the weather to prevent malfunctions.
The civil society group also advised the EC to provide enough back-ups for the verification machines while intensifying information dissemination about the elections in the Ghanaian media.
The EC was criticized for being lax in the fervour of promotion and educational drives as the country fast approached the elections. “The EC must intensify the dissemination of information through media outlets, particularly radio, to increase voter/public awareness on the use of verification equipment on polling day so as to bolster confidence in the verification process and of the use of the biometric register,” stated Prof. Greenstreet.
The local observer group has also called on the EC to release the voters register for all the 10 regions to all the political parties. Currently, the EC has only released the register to five regions out of the 10 and this was making the parties increasingly uncomfortable.
By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran