HOT VERBAL exchanges between Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman, and Bernard Antwi Boasiako aka Wontumi, Ashanti Regional New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairman, abruptly brought to an end a meeting between the EC and the NPP yesterday.
NPP top shots were making a follow-up to a complaint about the high number of people whose names had been deleted from the electoral register in the region. But what initially seemed a peaceful meeting suddenly turned into a war of words.
In the course of the meeting Dr Afari-Gyan did not feel comfortable about Wontumi’s comments that he would not allow the EC to intentionally disenfranchise several people in the region in 2016 as it (EC) did in 2012.
The EC Chairman considered Wontumi’s accusation as a threat on his life so he vowed to report the matter to the police for the NPP guru to be arrested, but Wontumi retorted that he was only raising genuine concerns about his party.
Hell nearly broke loose at that juncture as Dr Afari-Gyan and Wontumi yelled on top of their voices, compelling other attendants of the meeting to intervene to stop a possible fight.
Both Dr Afari-Gyan and Wontumi were angry to the extent that they even exchanged hot words for some minutes when the issue of age came in.
The EC boss referred to Wontumi as a young man and the NPP man replied that even though he is younger than him (Afari-Gyan), his seat as NPP Regional Chairman makes him an elderly person.
DAILY GUIDE has in its possession a copy of a recorded tape of the full length of the meeting which was held at the EC’s Ashanti Regional office in Kumasi Thursday morning.
“Don’t take any name from the Ashanti Regional register. You did it in 2012 and I swear I will not allow you to do it again in 2016, I swear you can’t do it,” Wontumi exclaimed, attracting an instant reply from the EC capo.
“Why are you personalising issues, I will report you to the police; you are threatening me,” Dr Afari Gyan said and Wontumi instantly rubbished his claim, stating that “I am not threatening you, I am cautioning you.”
Wontumi reiterated, “I am not threatening you, you are cheating us and as the NPP Chairman of the region, I am objecting to it, period.” This attracted a reply from Afari-Gyan to the effect that he (Wontumi) was accusing him personally.
Wontumi said he is a stakeholder in the elections of the country just as Dr Afari-Gyan therefore he was eligible to protest against any attempt by the EC to bully the NPP.
The NPP guru said before the EC would haul anybody to court for double registration they (EC) should produce all the Form 1A which is in the manual form and form 1C to buttress the fact that indeed such people are culpable of double registration charge.
He stated that every Ghanaian has a fundamental right to vote so the EC’s decision to disenfranchise some people in the Ashanti Region defeats that clear policy, adding that the EC was at fault for the double registrations recorded in the register.
Wontumi said the EC was wrong to secretly haul people to court for double registration charges without credible evidence and support from the police in terms of investigations.
Known NPP stalwarts such as Dr Kwame Amoako Tuffuor, Frederick Fredua Anto and Kennedy Kankam were present at the meeting which was also graced by EC officials in the region.
Earlier, Dr Amoako-Tuffuor noted that Wontumi had raised a genuine concern and asked Dr Afari-Gyan whether the EC had all the Form 1A in their possession, and the EC capo said “Yes.” Dr Amoako-Tuffuor then said the NPP would write to demand copies from the EC.
Wontumi at the initial stages of the meeting had said “My concern as the NPP Chairman in the region is that all the people whose names have been deleted from the electoral register should be included.”
Dr Afari Gyan instantly replied that the deletion of names of people that were involved in double registration from the register was a national affair, so Wontumi should not single out the Ashanti Region.
He stated that the deletion was ongoing across the country, stating that the Northern Region tops the chart of double registration with 10%. “Ashanti Region has 6% so your region is not much affected,” he said.
Dr Amoako Tuffuor said considering that the Ashanti Region has a higher number of voter registration, the 6% recorded when it comes into figures, would be higher than the Northern Region’s 10% since the voter number there is minimal. Dr Afari-Gyan accepted his opinion.
Dr Afari-Gyan also stated that the law doesn’t permit double registration in the register so the EC would make sure that all those whose names had appeared more than once would be processed for court.
He disclosed that some of the offenders of double registration had been sentenced to prison by the court in some areas of the country, adding that the exercise would be sustained.
Wontumi also said the EC was wrong in sending some people in the region to court on accusation that they had been involved in double registration, alleging that some EC returning officers at the Manhyia North Constituency were also involved in double registration.
He asked the EC why it had refused to haul its staff that had been involved in double registration to court, stating emphatically that the double registration of the people came about because the EC did a shoddy job during the registration exercise.
Wontumi insisted that most people who had been accused of double registration, notably at the Asokwa constituency, suffered their fate because the ECs biometric machines were set at wrong a date and time.
He explained that such people were initially placed at the exclusion list by the EC, adding that the EC at a later date made arrangement for such people to register again “and to their horror, their names were captured in the double registration.”
Wontumi blamed the EC for poor work done which had resulted in the double registration and tasked it to accept its mistake and allow for the names deleted from the register to be reinstated.
Mr Boasiako was of the view that almost 80% of newly registered voters in the region could not check their names in the register because they were in school when the exhibition exercise was being undertaken.
He asked the EC to cancel the recently organised voter exhibition exercise and suggested that the exercise should be done at a time when school children were on vacation so they could take part in it.
Even when Wontumi and his other party members were leaving the EC’s premises, Dr Afari-Gyan, who was panting for breadth, was still yelling that he would report to the police to arrest Wontumi.
It was not clear whether he indeed reported the case.
Source: I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi
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