Former Minister of State in-charge of Youth and Sports, Rashid Bawa, has narrated what he and others, including the First National Vice Chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Freddie Blay and National Treasurer, Kwabena Abankwa, went through at the hands of the AK 47-wielding Azorka boys during the recent Talensi by-election.
This was during an interview with DAILY GUIDE over happenings during the by-election in which the National Democratic Congress (NDC) recaptured the seat it lost to the NPP in 2012.
We reproduce verbatim what Mr Rashid Bawa actually said transpired in the area in a question and answer form. The interviewer is DAILY GUIDE (DG) and Rashid Bawa as RB, the interviewee.
DG: What exactly happened in Talensi because we understand yourself, Freddie and Abankwa were attacked at a certain polling station?
RB: Talensi constituency was divided into three zones: western, central and the eastern zones. The First National Chairman, the Treasurer and my good self were assigned roles in the western zone of the constituency so that’s where we campaigned throughout the elections.
On the day of the election, we were to monitor in the western zone of the Talensi constituency. Early in the morning as we were entering the constituency, there was a barrier that had been mounted at Wikongo and Tongo so we got there. Every car was being searched by the police and the army; our two cars stopped.
The first car was searched; as they finished searching the first car, we saw that Azorka and eight of his cars were driving past the checkpoint. I screamed to the police that if they didn’t search Azorka and his vehicles, then we would also prevent them from searching our second car.
The military quickly stopped and searched the car.
Now we went to the first polling station at the central part of the constituency which is near the NPP constituency office; after that we drove back to the western zone. At the first and second polling stations, we realised that the NDC had moved young guys in green T-shirts, written behind, ‘Security’. They were alighting at the various polling stations.
We questioned them why because the police had been given the role to provide security at the polling stations. At the fourth polling station where we visited, we complained to the military and the police that that was what was happening and so they should stop the so-called security guys.
We got to the Balugu Primary A polling station; there we saw the Azorka boys and eight of their vehicles parked. As we were approaching Balugu, we saw the Minister of the Interior and the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Mark Woyongo and Muniru respectively, at the polling station and so we said ‘hello’ to them.
Not knowing, Azorka and his boys were tailing us; so they also arrived at the same polling station. We moved to our party agent and saw the Minister of the Interior and the Northern Regional Minister talking to Azorka; we didn’t know what they were discussing.
Just after that, Azorka moved straight and started attacking Freddie Blay, shouting on top of his voice that Freddie should leave there for no reason; that he was not supposed to be there because he was not coming from the region, asking why he was there.
DG: So what did Freddie say or do?
RB: Freddie was shocked so he couldn’t say anything. He was surprised because he was wearing an observer tag. So I approached Azorka and said we were all wearing observer tags and that we were talking to our agents. Azorka said, ‘No! No! No! Freddie was not supposed to be here.’
As I was engaging him, one of the boys tried to hit Freddie Blay. Charles Armoo, special assistant to Freddie, saw it and blocked his hand and then one other Azorka boy slapped Charles who then fell down, sprawling on the floor. Freddie Blay’s phone got destroyed.
So I left Azorka to go and help Freddie to move to the car. As I was moving Freddie to the car, the deputy regional youth organiser of NDC (I don’t know his name. He is a tall guy) removed Freddie’s cap and his tag and started pushing and pulling him. As we were moving him to the car, they were also assaulting him.
I then left again to go and talk to Azorka because what was happening was not the best. Azorka then allowed the boys to do the attack whilst he moved to his car and was standing by the car so I complained, ‘You can’t do this; they will kill him.’
As I was talking to him, our National Treasurer (Abankwa) asked him, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Before he could say jack, one of the Azorka boys had slapped him. So Akuffo, who is an aide to Abankwa, asked why and they used a big stick to hit his head.
At that stage, there was so much chaos that everybody was scared for their life.
Azorka and his boys being confronted by the military and police
DG: Where were the police and the military during all this melee?
RB: They were nowhere in sight.
DG: Did you go with your bodyguards?
RB: We were about eight; one bodyguard for Freddie Blay and of course, Akuffo was also to look after Abankwa. At that stage, we put Freddie in the car; Abankwa also sat in the car and the driver drove off, leaving myself and Akuffo behind.
Akuffo then attempted running after the car and then they (Azorka boys) hit him from behind and he fell; they pounced on him and were hitting him left, right and centre.
At that stage, Dr Clement Apaak was there and somebody was asking him, ‘Why can’t you tell them to stop?’ Apaak said there was nothing he could do; he couldn’t stop them so he was just watching as we were being battered by the Azorka boys.
Luckily for us, the second car that we were having reversed and came to pick Akuffo – who was on the ground – and we drove off. Azorka then asked that they should chase us. So as we drove about 150 meters, we met the first police vehicle; he got down and we were narrating our ordeal to him when Azorka and his boys arrived.
Azorka himself then moved straight to the policeman – he is a very tall guy called Mohammed – held his shirt and lifted him from the ground, assaulting him and shouting, ‘Who does he think he is? We are in power; nothing can happen.’
DG: Was the policeman an officer or a junior rank?
RB: He was an officer; he came with about three other junior ranks but he was not armed so they couldn’t respond to what Azorka and his boys were doing.
DG: So what happened thereafter?
RB: So at that stage the military convoy arrived. What saved us was the presence of the military…They were fully armed so when they came and saw the scene, I saw one of the officers cork his gun and then I heard Azorka shouting to his boys to sit in the car and then they drove off.
Yakubu (Chief Superintendent Naa Yakubu) then came to us so I complained to him and then he said Sir John (former NPP General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie) had called him to make a similar complaint.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
This article has 2 comments, leave your comment.