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Election 2020: 62,794 Police personnel to be deployed

BY: Emmanuel Bonney

A total of 62,794 security men will be deployed across the country to ensure law and order on election day on December 7, 2020.

The security men, who will be identified by armlets, are from the Police Service, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), the Customs Division of the GRA, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), as well as the Fire, the Prisons and the Immigration services.

The Chairman of the National Election Security Task Force, Mr James Oppong-Boanuh, who is the Inspector General of Police (IGP), said this at a press conference in Accra yesterday to brief the public on the preparedness of the task force for the upcoming elections.

He said the security agencies had learnt lessons from the voters registration exercise and had planned very well to take care of contingencies.

“On the issue of resources required for our work, agencies forming the task force are equipped and ready to do our job,” he said, adding that he was satisfied with the readiness of personnel of the security agencies after visiting all the 16 regions.

Responsibilities

According to the IGP, all the security men would be in their regular uniforms, except those from the BNI and the CID, who “will remain invisible”.

“We will adopt a four-tier approach of static duties of policing the ballot at all the 33,367 polling stations and 275 collation centres; patrols, rapid response and standby forces to provide swift action when the need arises.

“Personnel of the GAF will join operational units of the Police Service, fully armed to execute patrol, rapid response and standby duties, while the static duties are performed by the police and the four security agencies,” he said.

In addition to election duties, he said, the security agencies would also carry out their everyday duties of preventing crime, protecting lives and properties, apprehending offenders and generally maintaining law and order, so that people would continue to go on with their lawful activities in a safe and secure environment.

EC collaboration

Mr Oppong-Boanuh indicated that the security agencies had been working closely with the Electoral Commission (EC) to make the planning for the entire electoral process feasible, adding: “Our priority areas include providing security for the commissioners, polling stations, collation centres, electoral materials, officials, offices, logistics, holding facilities, candidates, voters, observers and reporters.”

“On June 25, 2020, we invited high-ranking officers of all political parties to have discussions on measures to improve security to ensure successful elections in December. I have trust in the leadership of the various political parties to advise their followers to follow laid-down procedures in these elections, particularly when it comes to registering their displeasure against an occurrence at a polling station or collation centre,” he said.

He advised candidates and supporters not to move from one polling station to another under the guise of monitoring, saying experience had shown that such movements tended to generate confusion and cause disturbances.

Task force committed

Mr Oppong-Boanuh said the task force had also met traditional rulers and appealed to them to advise residents and the youth in particular to stay away from violence.

“On December 7, 2020 and the period before the declaration of results by the EC, we will operate centres which we call Joint Operations Centres at the national, region and district levels.

“These are situational rooms which will have monitoring teams, and as we have done in the past, some civil society groups will be allowed space at the centres to work with us in monitoring and clarifying issues,” he said.

The IGP said the task force would put out channels for the verification of security information, and that media practitioners, commentators and bloggers were expected to verify and validate information from such channels before disseminating them to avoid unnecessary tension that might spark from misinformation or fake news.

Regarding arrests and prosecution, the Chairman of the task force said it had a deep commitment to prevent crimes from happening, and that when they happened, offenders would be arrested, investigated to gather the necessary evidence and prosecuted.

“As Chairman of the National Elections Task Force, I pledge the unwavering commitment  of the police and the security agencies to make Ghana a country of peace. We are working tirelessly to ensure that the forthcoming elections are conducted in a peaceful atmosphere,” he assured Ghanaians.

COVID-19

Mr Oppong-Boanuh reminded the public that the safety protocols for the prevention of the COVID-19 were still in force and encouraged all to be mindful of them.

He stressed that the task force had also factored that in its programmes to ensure the safety of the security men who would be deployed, as well as all those who would be involved in the process on election day.