FIFTEEN out of 79 aspirants who filed to contest the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) upcoming Parliamentary Primaries in the Eastern Region ahead of the 2020 general election have been disqualified by the Regional Vetting Committee.
Key among the disqualified persons is respected Lawyer Philip Addison, lead counsel for the NPP presidential election petition in 2013, who contested on the party’s ticket but was unsuccessful in the 2016 general election at Klottey Korle in the Greater Accra Region.
He laced his boots to contest at Akuapem North this time around and was hoping to unseat the incumbent and Deputy Minister for Information, Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah Adjei, who is seeking re-election.
The news about the disqualifications of the 15 aspirants in the region spread like wildfire but NPP Regional Secretary Jeff Konadu Addo took his time to explain what actually transpired at the vetting to DAILY GUIDE in a telephone interview yesterday.
In the case of Mr. Addison, the regional secretary said he was not recommended for the 25th April contest because “he (Mr. Addison) hasn’t nurtured the party in the constituency.”
He said two of the officers (Messrs Nana Obiri Boahen and R.O. Solomon), who were sent from the NPP headquarters to supervise the regional vetting, impressed on the committee to allow Mr. Addison to enter the contest but to no avail.
According to the secretary, the two insisted that Mr. Addison’s contribution to the party at the national level was immense but the committee overlooked it because he (Mr. Addison) did not contribute to the developments at the constituency level.
“All the aspirants that have been disqualified have the right to appeal to the National Appeals Committee if they feel aggrieved by what has happened at the regional level,” he said.
Mr. Addison was not happy when DAILY GUIDE sought his views on the latest development but did not make his intentions clear on his next move.
Apart from Mr. Addison, one other Akuapem North hopeful, William Agyei Twumasi, a Bursar of Presbyterian College of Education, Akropong, was also disqualified for allegedly using the party’s logo fraudulently for his own Health Insurance arrangement other than the National Health Insurance one.
According to the committee, it was observed that both aspirants had started campaigning openly before nominations were opened in violation of the party’s rules.
It was also observed that they had ‘little knowledge’ about the constituency they were vying for and some reportedly did not even know the number of polling stations in the constituency, as well as the electoral areas.
As things stand, Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah Adjei, the incumbent MP, is likely to contest unopposed if the disqualified aspirants fail to overturn the committee’s decision.
Atiwa East Curses
Even before the committee started its work, four of the aspirants in Atiwa East, according to the NPP regional secretary, had ganged up and their supporters had invoked curses on the regional executives over speculation that the committee was going to kick their preferred candidates out of the contest.
The aspirants, who were contesting Abena Osei Asare, incumbent MP, who doubles as a Deputy Minister of Finance, were all disqualified when they could not prove that they were not behind the people who invoked the curses.
The aspirants included Ernest Adade Owiredu, Kudjoe Amegah Kafui, Eric Agyarko and Dr. Benny Frank.
This has paved the way for the Deputy Minister of Finance to go unopposed.
The regional secretary insisted that the four aspirants could not prove they were not behind the invocation of curses and said they exhibited indiscipline in the party.
He said the committee disqualified them to maintain discipline in the party.
“If any of them is allowed to contest, it will motivate future aspirants to use similar crude methods (invocation of curses) to have their way and I think we would have set a dangerous precedent,” the regional secretary added.
Some party members from the Atiwa East ahead of the vetting on Saturday afternoon descended on the Regional Minister’s residence in Koforidua, where the vetting took place, and hurled insults on the Regional Chairman, Kingston Kissi, and his executives, leading to confusion and tension. And it took police intervention to restore normalcy.
Some young persons were seen openly cursing whoever would have a hand in the disqualification of those challenging the incumbent MP.
“We hereby invoke a curse on any member of the vetting committee who attempts to disqualify any of the four men contesting the incumbent MP. His children and wife must be annihilated. Any vetting committee member who shows bias towards one candidate must also be dealt with,” they cursed openly.
They added “anyone who tries to manipulate the system in favour of anyone must not be spared.”
Skirt and Blouse
The bare-chested men with pieces of cloth around their heads and arms also called on the gods to kill family members of the said individuals.
After their candidates were eventually disqualified, they angrily threatened to go ahead and invoke more curses on the vetting committee and also vote “Skirt and Blouse” in the upcoming general election.
The NPP secretary said there were doubts over some of the Atiwa East aspirants and mentioned Kudjoe Amegah Kafui in particular as an aspirant who is believed to be having a case in Sierra Leone to contend with.
Dr. Owusu Akyem Asare, an aspirant who is contesting the Minister of Roads and Highways and incumbent MP Kwasi Amoako Atta, was also disqualified.
Drama unfolded at the vetting grounds when the police stormed the place to effect the arrest of Frank Mireku Ahemah, who was eyeing the Abirim Constituency.
He was arrested for allegedly defrauding someone to the tune of GH¢5,000.
Mr. Ahemah’s arrest came as a shock to him after he was identified by the complainant whose name was given as Damptey, who said he had already lodged a complaint against him at the Adeiso Police Station.
The aspirant was then taken away to the Koforidua Central Police Station, where he was granted bail after paying the GH¢5,000 bail.
The Eastern Regional Police Commander in charge of Operations, DSP Otumi, confirmed the arrest and said Mr. Ahemah’s GH¢5,000 payment to the complainant does not end the matter as they have information that the aspirant has allegedly defrauded a lot of people.
“He is not free. They will still investigate the offence. He told us that he was an aspirant and that he wants to pay the money. So he paid the money and was granted bail but he will still report to the Adeiso Police Station for further investigations,” noted DSP Otumi.
In Fanteakwa North, one Captain Moro Sakyaima Yakubu was also disqualified because he was said not to be forthright with the documents he submitted.
According to the regional secretary, the aspirant had presented documents to claim that he built a school in the constituency but when he was asked to show proof he told a different story.
He also said the aspirant also once declined to serve as a patron of the party in the constituency and cannot now turn around to contest on the party’s ticket at his convenience.
Nana Obiri Boahen, the Deputy General Secretary of the party, who is the Chairman for the Eastern Regional Vetting Committee, appears to have justified the actions of the committee.
He added that some constituency executives wrote numerous petitions against the affected aspirants most of which the committee found convincing hence their disqualifications.
FROM Daniel Bampoe, Koforidua