The Commander of the National Security SWAT team, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Samuel Kojo Azugu says his men “tactically” withdrew from an operation to retrieve an alleged stockpile of firearms in a building near the Bawaleshie polling station in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency in order to prevent the loss of human life.
According to him, the firepower that was coming from the said building was too serious that his men (National Security) decided not to engage them in a shootout.
“I could not underestimate the firepower that was coming from the building and we have to tactically withdraw from the operation,” he said.
Not satisfied with the reason DSP Azugu gave for his decision to abort his operation, Justice Emile Short asked him whether he withdrew from the operation because they were “overpowered or overwhelmed?”
DSP Azugu, who was on Monday, February 18, 2019, giving testimony before the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry into the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election shooting incident, could not immediately give an answer as to whether he was overpowered or overwhelmed.
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He told the Commission that when he heard sporadic gunshots from the target building, he only ordered his men to give six warning shots.
He explained that after the six warning shots were given, he saw a lot of people running “helter skelter” from the building.
According to DSP Azugu, he ordered his men to arrest those who were coming from the said building to help with investigation, noting that nine people were arrested in the process.
When asked by the Commission as to whether those that they arrested were part of the injured victims, DSP Azugu told the Commission that he did not see anyone with gunshot wounds.
“I have not personally seen the person who was shot,” he told the Commission, adding that he was personally hit by a stone on the shoulder and that he had to massage it for some days before he was relieved of the pains.
At least five people sustained gunshot wounds when some unknown gunmen invaded the Bawaleshie residence of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate, Mr Kwasi Delali Brempong in the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in the morning of Thursday, January 31, 2019.
Some of the victims are said to have sustained injuries in the neck, arm and back.
Following the incident, the NDC withdrew its candidate from the race, saying it could not participate in an election riddled with bloodshed.
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia set up the three-member Emile Short Commission of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances that led to the shooting incident.
The Commission is chaired by Justice Emile Short, a former Commissioner at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
The other members are Professor Henrietta Mensah Bonsu and Patrick K. Acheampong. Mr Ernest Kofi Abotsi, a former Dean of the Faculty of Law at GIMPA and private legal practitioner, is the secretary.