The Arrest of NDC’s PC: ‘Worried’ AEI Warns ‘Biased’ Police about ‘Rising Political Temperature’

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A word has gone from the African Electoral Institute (AEI) to the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to discharge its duties with the highest level of professionalism, particularly as “the political temperature” in the country “is heating up” ahead of the general elections.

The advice is contained in a statement issued Monday by the organisation three days after the parliamentary candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) for Awutu Senya East Constituency (ASEC), Philis Naa Koryoo Okunor, was arrested and detained over a pump action gun reportedly found in her car.

The NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Awutu Senya East, Phillis Naa Koryoo Okunor.

The arrest and detention drew strong criticisms from a section of Ghanaians because the police did not take any action when the lawmaker for the same constituency and member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mavis Hawa Koomson, ‘unlawfully’ fired warning shots at a voter registration centre on Monday, 20 July 2020.

Mavis Hawa Koomson, MP for Awutu Senya East and Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.

“The African Electoral Institute (AEI) has viewed the arrest and detention of the National Democratic Congress Parliamentary Candidate for Awutu Senya East (ASEC), Phillis Naa Koryoo Okunor, by the police and matters arising very worrying. The institute believes that state institutions must be allowed to work freely without any underhand dealings or interference by anyone, not even the appointing authority, to keep our country safe for all of us to live safely without fear of intimidation.

“Just as the African Electoral Institute believes that state institutions must be given a free hand to operate, it equally believes that the police should exhibit immense professionalism and candour in the conduct of their lawful duties. The action(s) of the police should be measurable to the alleged offence to prevent or ensure that no other meanings are read into their operations,” said the statement signed by the head of the AEI’s Electoral Security Department, WO1 (Retd) Alhaji Yussif Mahamah.

The AEI’s statement did not condemn the arrest. But it criticised the “manner” it was handled by the police, saying it left “many Ghanaians in the realms of speculation”.

The AEI’s logo.

It said the police failed to carry the public along by “maybe issuing a press statement in that regard to let Ghanaians and her supporters know what offence” warranted the arrest “or what she is being held for”.

“AEI wishes to point out that the current political temperature is heating up and this should let the police adopt more strategic, tactical and effective ways of going about their duties without suspicion from any quarters to suggest that they are doing the bidding of anyone to the disadvantage of another.

“The African Electoral Institute equally wants to admonish all well-meaning Ghanaians to desist from putting political colours on the activities or operations of the police since such acts make the work of the police difficult and de-motivating,” the statement cautioned.

It stressed: “AEI adds that it is very important for the police to do their work with utmost professionalism. The police must be seen to be fair but firm in the discharge of their duties to underscore their motto, which is:  ‘Service with Integrity’.”

The logo of the Ghana Police Service.

Okunor’s arrest and detention sparked protests at the Cantonments Police Station in Ghana’s capital, Accra, on June 7. In a press statement, the police said she had been cautioned on the “offence of transfer of firearms without authority”.

The police granted her bail with three other persons after the protests and announced it was forwarding her docket to the Attorney-General for advice.

The Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Akuffo Dampare (holding a swagger stick), with some top-ranking police officers.

The NDC parliamentary candidate told reporters that the gun found in her car was licensed. She also explained that she acquired the firearm to protect herself from Hawa Koomson (the lawmaker for the constituency) because the police had failed to protect her when Koomson reportedly attacked her and fired gunshots last year.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/

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