“Stay neutral and don’t support government in its quest to suppress voters in our strong holds”, the Minority caucus in Parliament told the Ghana Armed Forces and the Police Service on Friday in Accra.
The caution followed concerns by Member for Ellembele, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, on Thursday that soldiers had been deployed to communities in his constituency.
Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, addressing journalists in Parliament, said reports reaching them indicated that soldiers and police personnel were intimidating and harassing prospective registrants in their strong holds especially the Volta Region.
“Our caution to the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Service is that they should stay neutral as a state security institution and work to secure the peace, stability and security of our country.
“Partisan politics is not their calling. They should not allow themselves to be used for that purpose of [suppressing voters in our strong holds.] Therefore, all acts of intimidation and harassment by members of the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Service must seize henceforth,” Haruna Iddrisu said.
According to him, the alleged intimidation had reached a crescendo to the extent that “the military are even entering houses” and asking persons if they were Ghanaians.
“We will not sit aloof for them to continue to intimidate and harass our party supporters and innocent Ghanaians to aid government in its quest of voter suppression,” Mr Iddrisu, MP, Tamale South warned.
The registration process, he said, was governed by law and that if anybody had a cause to question anybody’s citizenship, same must be done in accordance with law.
“My advice to the Ghana Armed Forces and Ghana Police Service is that your role is defined by law. If there is any question of eligibility, the law provides what to do. It is not for you to descend that low into the arena of partisan politics and be entering homes and asking people in the Volta Region if they were Ghanaians or not.”
This, he said, if not stopped, would be dangerous for the future integrity of the Armed Forces and Police Service.
But the Deputy Defence Minister, Major (Rtd) Derek Oduro, in a rebuttal said the claims by the Minority Leader were false.
“It is untrue to say the soldiers have taken sides. The soldiers have never taken sides in any political endeavour. If they did not take sides yesterday, why should they take sides today?” he asked.
He said as late as 2019, the security were deployed to secure the country’s borders from terrorists and wondered why the Minority did not raise any objections at the time.
“Soldiers are not entering any house in the Volta or Oti regions or any other region. They were deployed to the borders to ensure that nobody crosses the border so that COVID-19 can be brought to the barest minimum.”
Recognising that matters of migration lied in the domain of the Ghana Immigration Service, the soldiers were there to complement their efforts.
He cautioned the Minority to desist from politicising the presence of the security personnel along the borders of the country.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI