A clash has flared up among three political parties in the Navrongo Central Constituency following “purposive” demolition of some campaign materials at several public places ahead of the 2016 polls.
The three parties involved- the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC)- have traded open accusations against one another of willfully doing the damage to thwart the chances of their respective opponents.
There are fears the clash could spiral into violence, even though the police have stepped in, as the level of destruction inflicted so far looks beyond recovery especially for the members of the PNC who claim over 500 posters, showcasing both the party’s parliamentary candidate and its flagbearer, have been destroyed.
“I suspect the NDC because I have my banners at the NACC; NPP haven’t destroyed it. My first banner was here. It was destroyed. The following morning, Mark’s banner has come. I shifted to this area. It’s been cut down. My banner at the VRA has been cut down. There is no rain. There is no storm. There is nothing that has brought destruction to trees. And my banners were cut down. Who else could have done that? The party that feels very uncomfortable with my candidature.
“NDC sees me as a threat. NDC is doing it. Over 500 campaign posters that I pasted have all been pulled out! I went and reported to the police. I have told the police to investigate and call all the political parties to a meeting. If they don’t do it, we are equally as violent as NDC can be. We will equally destroy posters if they think that destruction is the only means of winning votes,” the PNC’s parliamentary candidate for Navrongo Central, Pwoawuvi Joseph Weguri, screamed as he pointed at a ravaged banner around the Navrongo Police Station.
Many of our campaign posters destroyed – NDC
The NDC have strongly refuted the claim, attributing the damage done to the banner shown by the PNC to a rainstorm. The NDC have also lodged complaints with the police and the media about alleged removal and defacement of their flags and posters across the constituency.
“Apart from three banners, Weguri hasn’t pasted any poster in Navrongo. That banner at the junction going to the assembly was destroyed by the rainstorm. Our posters, they have removed them from Old Sandema Station up to Goil filling station. Our flags that we [hoisted], they removed them all along to Nayagnia and Akurugu-Daboo.
“It was rainstorm. The rainstorm destroyed our banners, too. People have destroyed our campaign posters and flags, too. They are many and are all gone. Although we have not caught anybody, we suspect our political opponents,” the NDC’s chairman for the constituency, Alhaji Baba Alhassan, said in an interview.
But the PNC have rubbished the NDC’s defence, maintaining that the NDC, not a rainstorm, was responsible for the destruction.
“When did we have a rainstorm in Navrongo? When did we have a windstorm? There are razor cuts on the banners! And you saw the razor cuts! You saw the razor cuts! Look at the ropes hanging. And you can see what is happening over there. They are pulling down campaign posters and banners of the candidates they think are threats,” Mr. Weguri affirmed.
NPP joins the fray, piles pressure on NDC
Whilst the NDC is fighting the raging flames of accusations from the PNC, the NPP reportedly also has dragged the ruling party to the police, claiming its members have both removed and destroyed countless elephant-branded flags and posters in the constituency.
“We were even the very first people who went and lodged a complaint at the police station and the NDC’s party office. The stretch from Mission Junction towards Notre Dame, their people went and removed our flags. I formally informed the NDC Chairman. I called the station officer of the Navrongo Police Station. I said I didn’t want any problem; he should call the chairman and us together and we would sort out things; if not that, they would bring confusion in the municipality; which he did.
“Our posters were all removed from the electricity poles along that stretch. They were removed. A lady saw them removing them and informed an assemblyman who, then, told me about it. So, I went myself to the police station to lodge a complaint. The following day, I contacted my organiser, gave out some party flags and posters again and they went round and put them there. We cannot quantify the number of posters destroyed,” the NPP’s constituency chairman, Williams Aduum, said.
Police “meet” conflicting parties
Police in Navrongo, in the wake of the clash, say they have advised executives of all political parties in the area to as quickly as possible draw the attention of the security agencies to any development that could disturb the peace of the area.
“I have met all the political parties- the executives. I have discussed all these issues with them and I have advised them so that if anything that borders on political crime or political offence, such as allegations of people removing campaign posters, crops up, they should report to us,” the Kassena-Nankana Municipal Police Commander, DSP Abdulai Amadu Alichewu, told Starr News.
DSP Alichewu, who said he was on an official engagement outside the Upper East Region as of the time he was interacting with Starr News, said the PNC’s damage claim was news to him. He said he knew only about a concern brought up whilst he was around about an intrusion on a PNC billboard by the All People’s Congress (APC).
“They (PNC) have come to report that they have put an APC poster of Dr. Hassan Ayariga on a PNC billboard. What we did was to go round, looking for the APC executives within the constituency. Unfortunately, we were not able to find any APC executives. We checked from [the] Electoral Commission office in Navrongo; we didn’t find anybody. We begged that the poster should be removed from the PNC billboard so that if there is anybody who represents APC, the person would come to us and we would iron out things,” he said.
The Upper East Regional Commander of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD), DSP Daniel Kwao Teye, who is said to be in charge of the municipality whilst DSP Alichewu is away, did not answer calls placed to him for further information on the PNC’s fresh agitations.
Electoral results at Navrongo since 2008
Since 1992, elections at Navrongo have been a straight contest between the NDC and the NPP, with the PNC being a third force and eventual winners of the parliamentary polls mostly leading by slim margins.
The NPP, so far, has produced two legislators- John Setuni Achuliwor (2000) and Joseph Kofi Adda (2004 and 2008). Three lawmakers have represented the NDC from the area. They include Godfrey Abullu (1992), Clement Tumfuga Bugase (1996) and Mark Owen Woyongo (2012).
In 2008, the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo polled 13,867 (44.81%) votes; Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the NDC obtained 14,218 (45.95%) votes and the PNC’s Dr. Edward Mahama got 2,403 (7.77%) votes. The run-off saw Mills capture 16,863 (54.48%) votes and Akufo-Addo 14,092 (45.52%) ballots. The NPP’s Kofi Adda won the seat that same year with 14,354 (45.2%) votes, beating the NDC’s Mark Woyongo who polled 13,224 (41.7%) votes and the PNC’s Gabriel Pwamang who got 4,026 (12.7%) votes.
The 2012 elections saw the NDC’s John Dramani Mahama attract 19,916 (57.71%) votes, the NPP’s Akufo-Addo 12,780 (37.03%) votes and the PNC’s Hassan Ayariga 77 (0.22%) votes in the presidential category. The NDC’s Woyongo captured the seat that year with 17,907 (53.16%) votes, crushing the NPP’s Adda who obtained 15,443 (45.84%) votes. The PNC did not field a parliamentary candidate in the area that year.