Interior Minister Mark Owen Woyongo has justified the violence that characterised Tuesday’s by-election in Talensi in the Upper East Region where several people were attacked and vehicles vandalised.
The bloody attacks carried out during Tuesday’s by-election were allegedly instigated by the Northern Regional Chairman of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sofo Azorka and his Azorka Boys in broad daylight.
Justifying the attacks in an interview on Kumasi-based Ultimate Radio yesterday, Interior Minister Mark Woyongo said, ‘Violence begets violence’, in response to a question as to what his Ministry was doing to curb the activities and operations of groups such as the Azorka Boys who are noted for violent attacks.
The Minister’s act of defending the notorious Azorka Boys incurred the displeasure of Ghanaians, with some groups calling for his head.
The Minister’s utterances, which glorified the guerilla-style attack of the Azorka Boys, was in contravention of President Mahama’s condemnation of the violence in Talensi which saw the seizure of deadly weapons including guns and machetes by the police.
It was a day after violent clashes between the Azorka Boys, a virtual militia group of the NDC, which is under the command of the party’s Northern Regional Chairman, and the Bolgatanga Bulldogs, another of its kind in the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). The two groups engaged in violent clashes in Talensi, resulting in some casualties.
Interestingly, this was the same Minister in whose presence Sofo Azorka and his boys attacked NPP First Vice Chairman Freddie Blay and his team who were monitoring elections at a polling station during the by- election in Talensi.
He however claimed that ‘the Azorka Boys will not mete out violence if they are not provoked.’
Not even the promptings of the programme’s host, Prince Mintah, to the effect that he was the Interior Minister of the Republic, could stop him from justifying the actions of the Azorka Boys, since according to him ‘that is why they also brought in some people because the Invisible Forces… and the Bolga Bulldogs; so violence begets violence.’
Obviously stunned by the Minister’s justification of violence, the host was compelled to ask, ‘You are the Interior Minister of the Republic of Ghana and I’m asking you as the Interior Minister; would you continue to allow these thugs to operate?’
And this was Woyongo’s response: ‘What I mean is that if you are a peace lover and somebody comes to attack you, definitely you have to protect yourself; that is what I mean violence begets violence.’
Asked what becomes of the relevance of the police if he endorsed the action of the Azorka Boys, he threw back a question at the journalist, saying, ‘If the police are not immediately available and someone is attacking you, won’t you defend yourself or won’t you protect yourself?’, insisting that ‘you will defend yourself until the police comes in.’
He later backtracked on his stand, saying, ‘But that is not to say we are just going to look on unconcerned; we have a major election in front of us come next year. We are going to streamline.’
Shockingly, he described these violent groups as security companies which did not have licenses to operate, for which reason he said, ‘When we get back to Accra, we are going to streamline everything. Those who don’t have licenses to operate security companies, we will disband them.
‘From now onwards, we are going to ensure that those who operate have credible documents to operate as security agencies.’
Pressed further to know if government intended to legalise the activities of these thugs, he said, ‘Of course they belong to security companies; for some time now they have been operating as security companies.’
Mark Woyongo however claimed the police had made some arrests in respect of those violent acts and the breach of peace that were carried out during the by-election but could not tell how many people were arrested, except to say ‘the police have spoken to all those factions.’
However, the police said no arrests had been made, exposing the Minister to further public ridicule.
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