Military harassment and intimidation in Ho West unacceptable and tantamount to voter suppression – Osie Adzatekpor

The Congress of Paramount Chiefs and Queen mothers of Ho West have decried the incessant incidents of harassment of citizens of the area by armed military officers.

In a brief press conference addressed by the President of the Congress and Paramount Chief of Avatime Traditional Area, Osie Adja Tekpor VII, Thursday July 9, 2020 the Chiefs bemoaned the unprovoked military harassment being visited upon their subjects, describing same as unwarranted intimidation of innocent citizens.

“What happened in Holuta is unacceptable. We have been reliably informed that when the military men besieged the town, they started pointing at people at the registration centres that they are aliens in Holuta. I mean, what rights has a miltary officer got to know who an alien is? Has the constitution asked soldiers to come and be pointing out who aliens are in our communities? Are they citizens in our communities? No, they are not; and so they cannot know who an alien in the community is unless there is a local collaborator,” he said.

“And we are sending a strong signal to those collaborators who want to embarrass Volta Region and Ho West in order to lend credence to the assertion that Ho West admits aliens to come and register; let them know that we don’t accept that one. . . we do not condone a situation where false alarm is sent out by our own citizens to invite people to come and be intimidating us. We are also warning any non-citizen who may want to come down and participate in the exercise that if you are caught, the law will take its course. We don’t condone that one,” he emohasized.

On Tuesday July 7, 2020, a joint team of armed military men and officers of the Ghana Immigration Service besieged Holuta, a farming community in the Ho West District in the Volta Region. The officers, according to residents, accosted locals demanding to know their nationalities and ostensibly accusing some of being Togolese. The case is, for instance, reported of one Alice Degborvia, a 56 year-old woman who had had to be rushed to the hospital minutes after about ten heavily-armed soldiers barged into her compound and demanded access to all rooms in the house; threatening to cause her harm if she did not comply with their demands.

Condemning the act, Osie Adja Tekpor VII averred that to the extent that the armed military personnel, rather than patrol the borders and unapproved routes, have chosen to besiege the towns and registration centres, barging into people’s homes and threatening residents at gunpoint, one would be tempted to accept the assertion that there is a more sinister motive to these military deployments than meets the eye.

“We hear in Holuta on that day, soldiers pointed guns at citizens to declare their citizenship; how on earth can such a thing happen? Such intimidation is not acceptable under our constitution. And I know President Nana Akufo-Addo is a peace-loving person. We don’t accept that soldiers will enter people’s homes as they did in Horluta, that they should bring out some supposed aliens; and that they [soldiers] would break into rooms to bring out foreigners. How on earth; are we in times of peace or in times of war? Because of that people feel intimidated and fear to come out of their homes to come and register. Are we encouraging democracy or destroying it? Soldiers have been brought to protect our borders; we thank government for that one. But soldiers have not been brought to intimidate our people,” he said adding “the current [voter] registration [exercise] is not a war situation; it’s a civil constitutional process that we all must participate in. And we also expect the EC and the authorities to adopt civil means to determine who an eligible registrant is or not.”

The Chiefs further expressed disapprobation over the failure to consult and or inform the traditional authorities ahead of the said deployment. They contend that the military has no mandate to accost people over their citizenship or identity, adding that if indeed there was the need to fish out a foreigner from amongst them, they the Chiefs and Queenmothers are better-placed to help do that since they know their own subjects better. Moreso, most of the Paramountcies in the area border Togo, hence a good number of citizens reside fully in areas along the border that would technically and geographically be described as Togo. This, according to them, does not in anyway make them aliens or non-Ghanaians.

“We find this unbecoming and unfriendly because as Paramount Chiefs, we thought that at least they [the military] should inform the Paramount Chiefs so that we can advice them on how to go about it. And when you say it, they tell you the information will leak; we Paramount Chiefs are not okro-mouthed!”

The Congress of Paramount Chiefs and Queenmothers of Ho West consists of sixteen (16) Paramountcies including Anyirawase, Kpedze, Dzolo, Akorviefe, Hlefi, Horluta, Kpoeta and Avatime Traditional Areas.

Osie Adzatekpor deny claims that their presser is intended to run down the government, saying that the chieftaincy institution is an eternal creation that supports the government of the day, irrespective of which political party is in power. And so it behoves the traditional authorities to draw the attention of the authorities to such impropriety. He thus called on the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Volta Regional Minister, Dr. Archibald Yao Letsa, to step in and call these officers to order.

“Those who are circulating rumors that we are here to attack the government, shame on you! That’s not why we are here; NPP government is our government, NDC government is our government. As Chiefs we respect and support the government of the day. . . we want to send a strong signal that we the Chiefs of Ho West, which bothers Togo, we don’t want what happened in Ketu South to happen in Ho West; unfortunately from Ketu it has descended down here. From here we don’t know where it’s going to. And so we are appealing to the authorities – the Regional Minister and the District Chief Executive – that they should call the soldiers to order,” he said.

Present at the conference were Torgbe Adza Ose VII, Paramount Chief of Akorviefe Traditional Area; Mamaga Megbenya, Paramount Queenmother of Holuta Traditional Area and Torgbe Gadze VIII, Paramount Chief of Kpoeta Traditional Area, among many others.

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