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‘I was assaulted with chains, butts of guns’

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman & Edward Acquah
Mr Theophilus Sedodi, (2nd left), a victim, explaining a photograph to the commission during the hearing. Picture: EDNA ADU-SERWAA
Mr Theophilus Sedodi, (2nd left), a victim, explaining a photograph to the commission during the hearing. Picture: EDNA ADU-SERWAA

A victim of the violence that took place during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 31, this year yesterday told the Justice Emile Short Commission of Enquiry that the National Security SWAT team used chains and the butts of guns to assault him at La Bawaleshie.

Mr Hamidi Amadu, the Ayawaso North branch Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), told the commission that he suffered injuries in his left eye, back, forehead, arms and other parts of the body as a result of the beatings from the masked security operatives.

“I was given a hot chase on the La-Bawaleshie school park, and when they caught up with me, they booted me down, lashed me with chains and hit me with the butts of the guns,” he said.

Appearing before the commission with Mr Francis Xavier Sosu, his counsel, Mr Amadu, a sachet water supplier, tendered in evidence a one-minute video footage by UTV that captured the moment he was assaulted by the mask-wearing National Security operatives to support his claims.

Suspicion

Giving an account of the events that led to his assault by the National Security operatives, Mr Amadu said he had arrived at the house of the NDC parliamentary candidate at La-Bawaleshie, Mr Delali Kwesi Brempong, via public transport around 6 a.m. on January 31, 2019.

He said he was at the place to assist with the distribution of rice porridge and bread to the polling agents of the party at the various polling stations.

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According to him, while he and four other persons were in the process of carting the food contained in an ice chest into a Mahindra pick-up parked in front of the house, about 35 masked men wearing black T-shirts over brown khaki trousers besieged the front of Mr Brempong’s house and ordered them to lie down on the ground.

He said shortly after the directive, the security operatives seized the keys to the Mahindra pick-up to search the vehicle.

“I stood up in the process and requested for a search warrant from one of the National Security operatives but the operatives only showed me a tag around his neck as the warrant.

I became suspicious, and when I looked around the necks of all the men they were wearing similar tags,” he told the commission.

Mr Amadu recounted that based on the suspicion he had, he considered that the masked men who had besieged Mr Brempong’s house were not official National Security operatives as they claimed and so he called the more than 100 people who had gathered in front of the house to retrieve the car keys, resist the operation and “drive them away”.

Confrontation

He said a confrontation ensued, during which one of the operatives fired six warning shots, a situation which forced him and some people in the crowd to go into hiding.

“I hid behind a white pick-up which was not far from the scene and I could still hear countless shots being fired,” he told the commission.

Sam George appears

According to him, while he was hiding behind the pick-up, the Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram, Mr Sam George, arrived at the scene and was told that National Security operatives had seized keys to the Mahindra pick-up.

He said when Mr George approached and engaged the security operatives to hand over the car keys, he (Amadu) heard gunshots and went into hiding and only came out when the shots had ceased.

Amadu said following the cessation of the gunshots, he came out from his hideout and ran towards Mr George, who was then on the La Bawaleshie school park.

“While I was running to Mr George, I was given a hot chase by the masked men, who booted me down, lashed me with chains and hit me with the butts of guns.

Even when a policeman arrived on the scene and asked them to stop assaulting me, they continued assaulting me,” he recounted.

He said he was subsequently arrested and taken to the East Legon Police Station, where he was detained close to an hour, adding: “I was discharged only after some NDC big men, including Yussif Dauda and Collins Dauda, had intervened.

I was released and given a medical form to go to the Legon Hospital for treatment,” he said.

No intention to incite

When counsel of the commission quizzed him what made him think the security operatives were not policemen,

Mr Amadu said “the manner they came to the scene, their behaviour and the tags hanging around their necks gave them up and I shouted for help”.

When it was put to him that he incited the crowd against the security operatives, sparking the violence, he disagreed, saying: “I only called others to help me retrieve the car keys. l had no intention to call the crowd to come and fight the operatives.”

Crime officer

When he took his turn at the commission, the Divisional Crime Officer at the Airport Police Station, Mr Kingsley Aboagye, told the commission that on the day of the shooting, he visited 16 of the victims of the violence at the Legon Hospital.

He said as part of investigations by the police into the matter, he was tasked to take the statements and medical reports of the identified victims to build a docket.

He said he was able to take the statements and medical reports of 10 of the victims which he presented to the committee set up by the Inspector General of Police, Mr David Asante-Apeatu, to probe the violence.

The commission, however, tasked Mr Aboagye to urgently make copies of the said statements and medical reports available to it, since the documents would be essential to its investigations.