Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kids Register To Vote

The Electoral Commission (EC) Tamale has appealed to the security agencies to come to its aid, in view of violent clashes that have erupted in the metropolis since the start of the voter-registration exercise. The Regional Director of the EC, Sylvester D. Kanyi indicated that there had been mayhem of various degrees at registration centres, resulting in assaults on officials and vandalizing of materials.

"It has therefore become necessary for the Commission to make the request in order to ensure peaceful registration exercise in Tamale," a cry for help from the volatile area stated. Meanwhile, it has emerged that some political leaders within the Northern Region are encouraging minors to register in the ongoing voter registration exercise at the various polling stations in Tamale, thereby heightening tension in the area.These incidences were occurring in spite of warnings from authorities of the EC.

A visit to 23 out of the 27 registration centres in the Tamale Metropolis revealed that some known political figures (names withheld) were bent on registering juveniles who, according to Daily Guide's investigations, were far below the minimum required age of 18 years. At one of the centres, one Abdulraman Osman found it difficult to mention his date of birth when quizzed by the paper.All he could say was that he was born in 1990. The NDC, which had consistently criticized the EC over alleged bloated register, was alleged to be engaged in this practice.

In the full glare of the security personnel and other election observers, some youth leaders of the NDC (names withheld) in particular were spotted by Daily Guide during a visit to a particular polling station leading some minors, some covering their heads with head gears, to the registration centres. The electoral officers and the security personnel at some centres found it very difficult to challenge the children, as the political party representatives quickly and violently came to their defence, with some threatening the officials.

In a bid to interview some minors in the queue at the Queen Elizabeth Day Nursery Centre in the Tamale Central Constituency, the Daily Guide said, its reporter was violently pushed aside by some thugs believed to be members of a certain political party. At the Zogbeli Primary, also in the Tamale Central Constituency, one primary 4 pupil confessed during police interrogation that he and 12 others in his class were asked by a brother who was a political leader (name withheld) in their area to come and register.

In another development, confirmed police reports have revealed that two New Patriotic Party (NPP) polling station agents were severely brutalized by some members of the opposition NDC when they challenged the ages of some minors at the registration centres. The hell was beaten out of one Abdul Samed Mohammed at the Kalpohin SDA polling station when he challenged the ages of some juveniles who had been transported to the centre to register.

Dissatisfied with the confrontation, a group of thugs believed to be supporters of the minors stormed the registration centre and physically assaulted him till he became unconscious; a situation which compelled the security officer detailed to the area to run for cover. The victim, according to police sources, is stilI in a critical condition at the Tamale Teaching Hospital. The Northern Regional Police Commander, DCOP Ephraim Okoh Brakatu said no arrest had so far been made, since the victim could not talk.

Osman Suleman, on the second day of registration, had his fair share of the brutality when he also tried challenging the ages of some minors at the Unity Primary School Registration Centre. But for the timely arrival of the Regional Police Commander and other security personnel, he would have had a different story to tell. DCOP Okoh Brakat assured residents that he would beef up security in some of the areas to forestall some of these hiccups in the registration exercise. He admitted that minors were seen at most of the polling stations ready to register, but said it was for the EC to manage that. According to him, the duty of the security personnel in the area was to maintain peace and ensure an incident-free exercise.

The Northern Regional Director of the EC Sylvester D. Kanyi said the polling station at the Kalpohin SDA School had been relocated to forestall the reoccurrence of violence at the centre. Meanwhile, the National Youth Organizer of the NPP, Mr. John Boadu has expressed concern over the apparent involvement of kids in the registration exercise especially in the Northern Region. At an emergency press conference in Tamale, Mr. Boadu asked the EC to sanitize the exercise in the interest of peace. He stressed that the involvement of minors who were pushed by some political leaders should be discouraged, and appealed to the EC to immediately check the practice as it was a deliberate attempt by some parties to win more votes unfairly, at the expense of others.

Daily Guide

No comments: