Sammy Gyamfi,NDC National Communications Officer
A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NATIONAL COMMUNICATION OFFICER OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC) ON THE REPORT OF THE THREE-MEMBER MINISTRIAL COMMITTEE SET UP TO LOOK INTO THE RECENT EJURA DISTURBANCES.
“EJURA COMMITTEE REPORT; A POOR ATTEMPT AT COVER UP”
Tuesday, 5th October, 2021
Good afternoon distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the media. On behalf of the leadership of the National Democratic Congress, I wish to welcome you to our National Headquarters for this all-important presser.
We have taken note of the findings and recommendations contained in the 55-page report of the Three (3)- Member Ministerial Committee of Inquiry which was set up to investigate the circumstances that led to the disturbances, shootings, injuries and death of some persons in Ejura in the Ashanti Region of Ghana on the 29th of June, 2021.
After an objective and painstaking examination of the report, we take the view that the committee’s report is a poor attempt at coverup. The report is full of faulty findings, flawed conclusions and deficient recommendations, calculated to shield from accountability the murderers of a social activist, Ibrahim Muhammed aka “Maacho Kaaka” and the perpetrators of the subsequent state-sponsored killings in Ejura by the military.
Today’s presser will thus focus on some of the false findings of the committee, particularly on the death of “Maacho Kaaka”, and the recommendations of the committee which we find deficient, particularly those that border on the unfortunate happenings in Ejura on the 28th and 29th of June, 2021.
Distinguished friends from the media, our careful study of the report of the three-member committee reveals three (3) fundamental problems which we find very troubling to say the least.
The first and most disappointing one is the false finding of the committee relative to who killed Ibrahim Muhammed aka “Kaaka”, who before his death was a social activist and a member of the “Fix the Country Movement”. The Justice Koomson committee in its report indicated that to them, it is more probable that Kaaka was killed as a result of a “family feud” and not because of his “fix the country” social activism.
Friends from the media, nothing could be further from the truth than this claim by the committee, and we in the NDC are appalled by the very laboured, albeit unsuccessful attempt by the committee to shield the perpetrators of that heinous crime from liability and punishment. That finding flies in the face of the facts and cannot be accepted by the Ghanaian people who expected nothing short of the truth from any impartial inquiry worth its salt into the sad events that unfolded at Ejura.
We wish to make the point forcefully, ladies and gentlemen, that no credible or verified evidence of a feud in Kaaka’s family was adduced by any of the witnesses who appeared before the committee to testify, because there is none. One therefore wonders how the Committee came to this contrived conclusion. Our checks reveal that Kaaka was at peace with his brother, Iddi, and lived in harmony with him. This was duly corroborated by the wife, Sahada Hudu, mother and family relatives of Kaaka, as well as the people they lived with. The idea that Kaaka was killed as a result of a family feud is therefore the invention of the committee, and as such, cannot be allowed to stand.
It is quite strange that the committee dismissed the testimony of the wife of Kaaka, Sahada Hudu about threats on Kaaka’s life by certain people who had issues with Kaaka’s social activism. It is no secret that assigns of the former Ejura MCE, Salisu Bamba who became uncomfortable with Kaaka’s social activism, which they claim was exposing their boss the MCE and the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government to public ridicule and opprobrium threatened Kaaka with harm and death when he was alive. In fact, Kaaka himself before his unfortunate murder had spoken about these threats on his life and indicated that should anything happen to him, the Ejura MCE, Salisu Bamba should be held responsible. This account was also confirmed by Umar Abeewakas, friend of Kaaka when he appeared before the committee.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, it does appear that delinking Kaaka from the “Fix the country” conversation was the main reason for the setting up of the Justice Koomson Committee and that is precisely what they have done. Is it not rather curious that the Committee conveniently chose to ignore and sweep under the carpet, a warning letter written by the Ejura Police Command dated 15th June, 2021 and addressed to “Kaaka”, accusing him of “offensive conduct conducive to the Breach of the peace” all because Kaaka was fighting for the development of Ejura and Ghana as a whole? This warning letter from the Police followed efforts by assigns of the then Municipal Chief Executive for Ejura, Salisu Bamba to silence and cower Kaaka over his “Fix the Country” activism. To have ignored this material fact and rather come to such a contrived finding of a family feud easily gives the Justice Koomson Committee out as one with an agenda to twist the facts right from the word go.
Having jettisoned these indisputable facts and plausible testimonies by persons close to Kaaka, the Committee rather, for some strange reasons chose to accept hook line and sinker the testimony of one Aminu Mohammed and Sadia Fuseini, co-tenant of Kaaka who claims to have witnessed the immediate aftermath of Kaaka’s murder on 26th June, 2021.
This, the Committee did without due cognizance of the fact that Sadia Fuseini had earlier given a contrary testimony in her first statement to the Police when the matter first broke, in which she had indicated that she saw two sticks and two men bolting away from their compound after she stepped out. As a matter of fact, it was on the basis of this first account by Sadia Fuseini that Ibrahim Issaka, a.k.a Anyass and Fuseini Alhassan, all of whom are known body guards of the former Ejura MCE, Salisu Bamba, were arrested a day after Kaaka’s murder.
How Sadia Fuseini changed her first testimony and ended up blaming Kaaka’s own brother for the murder when she had earlier given a different account to the Police; and why the Police have concealed the first statement given by Sadia Fuseini; and why same was not considered by the Committee in assessing Sadia’s credibility as a witness, are mind-blogging to say the least, and only speak volumes of the desperate attempts by the Committee and government at covering up the true circumstances surrounding Kaaka’s murder.
It should be abundantly clear to any objective observer, that the initial account of Sadia Fuseini to the effect that she found two big sticks at the crime scene, which account has been confirmed by the Police, completely belies the second testimony by this same Sadia Fuseini that it was Iddi, Kaaka’s blood brother who killed Kaaka. Clearly, no one person could have used those two big sticks at the same time to carry out that dastardly atrocity. That piece of evidence shows clearly that the account that there were two people involved in the murder of Kaaka is more probable and plausible.
Also, we find it quite strange and unacceptable that the Committee made no efforts to verify the in-camera testimony of Aminu Mohammed who testified of the existence of a feud between Kaaka and his brother, Iddi. Per our checks and as he himself confirmed when he appeared before the Committee, Aminu Mohammed lived in Burkina Faso and was not in Ejura when Kaaka was murdered and at the time of the Ejura disturbances. Aminu Mohammed provided no evidence to buttress his claim that Kaaka before his gruesome murder had caused the arrest of his brother Iddi sometime in 2020, and could not even tell the Committee the offense Iddi was arrested for. Also, Aminu provided no evidence to buttress his claim that Iddi traveled to Nigeria immediately after his arrest and detention in 2020, which claim has been refuted by the Kaaka’s family. Yet, the committee wholeheartedly relied on his in-camera testimony without verifying same from the Police or Kaaka’s family. There is no indication whatsoever in the 55-page report of the committee that they took any steps to verify Aminu Mohammed’s claim about the existence of a feud between Kaaka and his brother, Iddi before they came to the findings and conclusions contained in their report.
Given the fact that the Justice Koomson Committee had no smoking gun or conclusive evidence on the matter of who killed Macho Kaaka, it is our considered view that they should have stayed their conclusion on the matter and left it to police to resolve same through criminal and forensic investigations rather than prejudge the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigations based on mere conjecture, as they have sought to do in their report. This is particularly so, given the fact that none of the accused persons were heard by the committee. Therefore, aside the fact that the finding of the committee relative to who killed Kaaka is palpably false, it also breaches the rules of fair trial and natural justice.
We in the NDC condemn in no uncertain terms this shameful attempt by the Committee at cover-up and hereby unreservedly support the decision of the family of the late Kaaka to reject the committee’s report. It bears reminding the Justice George Kingsley Koomson Committee that what the family of the late Kaaka and the people of Ejura need is justice and not money. For there cannot be peace without justice. And no amount of pecuniary inducements as recommended by the Committee can replace the precious soul of Macho Kaaka. Justice, and nothing short of that, is what is needed in this case.
Friends from the media, the second major shortcoming of the report of the three-member Committee has to do with the deficiency or insufficiency of its recommendations on the state-sponsored killing of two Ejura youth, Abdul Nasir Yusif and Mutarla Muhammad and the maiming of several others by the military on the 29th of June, 2021.
It is instructive to note that the committee found that the unprovoked firing of live ammunition by the Lt. Martin Opoku Adusei-led military detachment into the crowd of protesters, which led to the death of two persons with several others sustaining life threatening injuries, was excessive and unwarranted.
However, the Committee’s recommendation on this important finding, which is that the Military Command should review the conduct of the Lt. Martin Opoku-led soldiers and “apply appropriate sanctions”, is nebulous and leaves much to be desired. This is because of the vagueness of this recommendation, which in our view has created a gaping hole for those trigger-happy NPP vigilantes clothed in Military attire, to possibly get away with their murderous act.
We think that the Committee should have recommended clear and specific punishment for these errant soldiers whose reckless conduct caused the avoidable deaths of two Ghanaians. The testimony of Multimedia’s Erastus Asare Donkor, which was upheld by the Committee and supported by video evidence indicates that the soldiers without any justification, fired live ammunition into a crowd of protesters resulting in the avoidable deaths of the said two people and injuries to several others. Without any provocation or reasonable justification, the Soldiers lowered their shooting angle, with some kneeling down to take aim and shoot at the retreating crowd.
Given the fact that precious lives have been lost as a result of the deliberate and cruel actions of the Lt. Adusei-led soldiers which to us, amounts to reckless disregard for human life, we think that the Committee should have recommended nothing short of the outright dismissal and criminal prosecution of all the ten (10) soldiers involved, to serve as a deterrent to others and to assuage the pain of the affected families and the people of Ejura.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is equally reprehensible and unacceptable that the Committee did not recommend any sanctions for the political and top military actors who deployed these soldiers in the first place. This is because of the Committee’s own finding that the deployment of soldiers to Ejura was premature and needless.
The Committee affirms our position that soldiers should have been called in to quell the justified and legitimate agitation of the Ejura youth as a last resort. Yet, they were called in by the irresponsible Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, the Commanding Officer of the 4th Infantry Battalion, Lt. colonel Kwasi Ware Peprah and the General Officer Commanding, Central Command, Kumasi, Brigadier General Joseph Aphour as a first resort.
Having established that the deployment of soldiers to Ejura was improper, one would have expected the Committee to have recommended sanctions for those responsible for that wrongful deployment, but no such recommendation was made in their report. If this does not speak to a certain grand collusion to cover up the heinous crimes of these actual masterminds of the unjustified Ejura killings, then we don’t know what else does.
We in the NDC hold the view, that the Ashanti Regional minister, who without any due diligence or verifiable intelligence deployed soldiers to Ejura, ably supported by the 4th Infantry Battalion Commander and the General Officer Commanding, Central Command, Kumasi, must be dismissed from their positions for the poor judgement they exercised on the matter which led to the loss of precious lives and several injuries. The soldiers on the ground were only following their orders.
Also, the Committee’s recommendation for the transfer of the Ejura District Police Commander, DSP Philip Kojo Hammond whose reckless conduct provoked the Ejura disturbances and triggered the shootings and killings of 29th June, 2021 is insufficient and ridiculous to say the least. In fact, it’s an Insult to the sensibilities of the affected people and their families. Transferring a Police Officer to another station in the same capacity and rank can never constitute disciplinary action. Friends from the media, how on earth can a mere administrative transfer which have been touted as routine exercises of the security agencies, be recommended as punishment for a senior Police Officer whose unprofessional and reckless conduct has caused the death of two Ghanaians and injuries to many? We in the NDC hold the view that, the committee should have recommended a more punitive and deterrent sanction such as demotion or even dismissal of the Ejura District Police Commander.
The third difficulty we have with this Ejura Committee Report has to do with its abject failure to recommend any sanctions for the Senior Security Officials comprising Police and Military Officers who appeared before the Committee to lie under oath, ostensibly to defend the unwarranted state-sponsored killings of 29th June, 2021.
Specifically, Brigadier General Joseph Aphour- the General Officer Commanding, Central Command, Kumasi was seen on National Television falsely testifying at the Committee’s hearing under oath that their men on the ground gave verbal warnings to the peaceful protestors before they started firing warning shots into the crowd of protesters. This claim was found to be false by the Committee. He, Brigadier General Joseph Aphour, Lt. Col Peprah the 4BN Commander, and Lt. Martin Opoku Adusei even went on to lie that some of the protestors fired back at the Soldiers, and that the Protesters who died were killed by gunshots from the crowd. This was also found by the Committee to be false based on video evidence of the incident.
Most despicably, the Deputy Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP David Agyemang Adjem and the Ejura District Police Commander, DSP Philip Kojo Hammond lied under oath that the Police deployed the Water Cannon Vehicle to the burial grounds of Macho Kaaka upon the request of Kaaka’s family. This claim which was refuted by Kaaka’s family and found to be untrue by the Committee, was what actually provoked and triggered the unfortunate disturbances in Ejura on the 28th and 29th of June, 2021.
Yet, despite these blatant lies that were peddled by these Senior Security Officials under oath, which amounts to the offense of perjury, the Committee failed to recommend any sanctions for these Officers. Friends, the crime of perjury is a serious offense under our laws, and must not be treated lightly, especially in a matter of considerable national interest such as this, when these officials spoke under oath and were therefore bound to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. We wish to submit forcefully, that all persons who perjured themselves before the Committee should be interdicted and prosecuted in accordance with law.
Friends from the media, we are pretty sure at this juncture that you would agree with our assertion that anything but justice has been served in this Ejura matter as far as the findings and recommendations of the Justice George Kingsley Koomson-led Committee are concerned. This grand agenda to once again cover-up, obfuscate and try to normalize an issue of such magnitude and importance only speaks to what has been a consistent trend since President Akufo-Addo assumed the reins of power.
Indeed, the sad events of the Ayawaso West Wuogon brutalities are still fresh in our minds; and so are the state-sponsored violence perpetrated by State Security Agencies during the 2020 General Elections which led to the deaths of eight (8) innocent Ghanaians.
Consistently, perpetrators of violence have been emboldened by the nonchalance of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government. Our once revered State security agencies have been bastardized by the NPP, who continue to integrate their vigilante elements into the Security Agencies. Some Security officials who are paid by the Ghanaian tax payer to protect us, have found comfort in maiming and ending innocent civilian lives and getting away with their crimes. This culture of impunity and gradual breakdown of law and order keeps growing and festering by the day, because the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP Government is determined to promote lawlessness and shield wrongdoers.
We in the NDC are appalled by the phenomenon where otherwise respectable citizens allow themselves to be used by this Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government to cover up serious crimes for political expediency as is evident in the index case of the Justice Koomson Committee. The events that unfolded at Ejura on the 28th and 29th of June, and this subsequent whitewashing of crime, impunity and unprovoked bloodletting by state actors and security officials is yet another slur that has been indelibly and irredeemably cast on the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government. Posterity, and indeed generations yet unborn, will forever remember this historical infamy. But most importantly, history will be most unfavorable and uncharitable to those who were entrusted with the responsibility to help unearth the truth, but rather aided and abetted in concealing the truth.
We can understand how the family of Ibrahim Muhammed aka “Kaaka” and other affected persons are feeling right now. We know, just as the vast majority of Ghanaians know, that they have been handed a raw deal. However, we urge them not to despair, nor give up. While they pursue other means of getting to bottom of this matter, we wish to assure them that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
And to those oppressors in this matter, and their collaborators, be reminded that crime has no expiry date, and that the truth cannot be buried, for it will spring forth like a seed in the fulness of time. Thus, those making themselves willing tools of murder and anguish for Ghanaian citizens under the despotic Akufo-Addo/Bawumia regime must remember, that there will be a day of accountability and that day is approaching very fast.
Thank you for your attention friends from the media. May God bless our homeland Ghana.
National Communications Officer, NDC