The Accra Regional Police Command has dismissed an earlier statement by the East Legon District Police Commander that he was side-lined in the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election police operation.
According to Accra Regional Commander, DCOP Patrick Adusei Sarpong, all district commanders in the region were informed to be present on the day of the election as well as come along with their pick-up vehicles.
DCOP Sarpong’s testimony contradicts that of DSP George Lysander Asare’s when he appeared before the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry investigating the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence last Friday.
DSP Asare told the commission that he was not included in the formal security arrangements, neither was he given any reason for his exclusion although the by-election was held in a constituency under his command.
According to him, he was only called in to assist in restoring calm when the violence erupted.
“I asked Chief Supt. Kwesi Ofori, the one in charge of Accra Regional operations as to why my name was not part of the taskforce group and he told me I shouldn’t worry….They [Accra Regional command] are in charge and even my car, they asked me to bring it to Accra region… [In] our work, you can’t challenge authority like that,” DSP Asare told the Commission.
“I was going to cast my ballot at my polling station… On my way to look for my polling centre, I had a call from my regional commander who didn’t make me part of the exercise that he had heard that some shootings are going on around Bawaleshie closer to the NDC parliamentary candidate’s house so I should go and assist. So I quickly returned [to the police station] and came and mobilized men from the station who were not part of the operation to go there,” he added.
But DSP Asare’s testimony has been contradicted by his commander who says he personally sent messages to all the district commanders via WhatsApp to be present on the day of the election but the former did not respond to his message.
According to him, a formal order was sent to all the divisional, district and unit commanders to bring their pick-ups for the operation.
He said he later followed up with the WhatsApp message at 9:57pm before the election day that they [the commanders] should report at 5am to lead a patrol team.
Below are excerpts of the questions and responses
Emile Short: East Legon District Commander was given an assignment. He was supposed to be part of the electoral taskforce, right?
DCOP Sarpong: That’s right; to meet the patrol.
Emile Short: And he was supposed to bring his vehicle with his driver?
DCOP Sarpong: That’s so. It wasn’t him alone. It was all the districts in Accra. [They] were sent copies of signals that they should bring or release their pick-ups for election duties
Emile Short: And you have heard his testimony that he was side-lined?
DCOP Sarpong: Yes my Lord, but that is not true.
Emile Short: Since then, have you queried him why he did not respond to your message? You said you sent him a WhatsApp message to which you got no response, right?
DCOP Sarpong: Yes Mr Chairman
Emile Short: And you also stated here in your evidence that his evidence that he was side-lined isn’t correct. Since then have you had any communication with him why he did not respond to your WhatsApp message and also his testimony before us that he was side-lined by you the regional commander?
DCOP Sarpong: Yes, Mr Chairman, the next day when the election was going on and he reported the incident to me, I told him that he should be there to take care of the situation because it fell within his command so he should take care. If he had come, we would have deployed him but since I left before his arrival, when he reported the incident to me I told him to take care of the situation
Emile Short: Have you queried him and also have you found out from him why he stated before us that he wasn’t included
DCOP Sarpong: I haven’t met him to discuss anything with him.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: You said that you sent a message to DSP George Asare to report at 0500 hours to lead a patrol?
DCOP Sarpong: Yes Mr Chairman.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: And this was at 9:57 am or pm?
DCOP Sarpong: pm.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: And to send a vehicle of the district command?
DCOP Sarpong: Yes Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman let me put in this document which was a message sent to all the divisional, district and unit commanders to bring in their pick-ups for the operation so it was not to him alone [but] to all the divisional, unit and district commanders.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: And was this order before the SMS message you sent?
DCOP Sarpong: Yes, this was the order and this was the follow up.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: Okay, I wanted to check whether he received the order and didn’t show up because you said he didn’t respond.
DCOP Sarpong: There was no response but one other officer responded.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: You said when you were on your way to East Legon after you heard of the incident, you contacted the district commander?
DCOP Sarpong: He called me.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: He called you and he said he was on his way to the hospital with his child?
DCOP Sarpong: Yes, Mr Chairman.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: Is this normal procedure that when there is a crisis in a place the commander of the place will have the time off to pursue domestic obligations?
DCOP Sarpong: Mr Chairman when I got there I met the divisional commander so I wouldn’t know whether he had taken permission from the divisional commander.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: But is this normal procedure in a crisis?
DCOP Sarpong: That isn’t.
Prof Mensah-Bonsu: But you did not query the situation?
DCOP Sarpong: Because I met the divisional commander I thought he might have been in contact with him because the divisional commander was in the district commander’s office.