In Ghana, the arrest of Ghana’s former security minister Francis Poku by heavily armed security men has reportedly heightened tension ahead of this year’s general elections. But President John Kufuor’s government denied the former minister was under house arrest, claiming that the presence of the heavily armed security men in Francis Poku’s house was a routine exercise for all former ministers who have been relieved of duties. President John Kufuor sacked the former security minister after a reported bitter confrontation over the weekend, in which the president is alleged to have demanded Poku’s resignation. But the minister refused, prompting the president to sack him from his government.
Kwesi Pratt, the managing editor of the Insight, an independent newspaper, witnessed the alleged arrest. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Accra that the government is being economical with the truth.
“I got information from my usual security sources that the former minister for national security Mr. Francis Poku has been placed under house arrest. I went to the house to verify, but it was difficult to enter the house. Eventually I entered the house and noticed about 20 to 30 heavily armed security personnel in camouflage uniforms and wearing bulletproof vests. Later the security personnel tried to eject me and another journalist from the house insisting that Mr. Francis Poku was not allowing visitors. Mr. Poku had earlier insisted that he was under house arrest. Subsequently some military top personnel came into the house and said there had been a misunderstanding and ordered the police out,” Pratt noted.
He said the government is not being truthful by maintaining that the former minister was being invited for debriefing.
“I think that is a pack of lies. The former security minister himself insisted that he was under house arrest, beyond that I was told by the security personnel in the house that he (Poku) was under restrictions and could not receive visitors. By the time I got to the house, his personal security, the bodyguards had been withdrawn, clearly, that was an unusual situation; it has nothing to do with debriefing. And I am inclined to believe that Mr. Francis Poku was under house arrest,” he said.
Pratt dismissed as speculations reports that the deeds of the former minister are questionable.
“There has been all kinds of speculations, so far no evidence has been provided to back up any of the speculations. And government itself has been reluctant to explain the situation. What we do know is that there was a confrontation between him and the president, the president asked him to resign; he refused to resign and the president then instructed that he be dismissed. And all of this happened within two hours on Saturday morning,” Pratt pointed out.
He said Ghanaians are unsure about what the truth of the matter is.
“There is a lot of confusion about what is happening, and there is also a lot of anger. A lot of anger because we have civilian regime, which is behaving like a military dictatorship putting people under unlawful arrests, putting people and their families under unlawful arrests in a manner which is reminiscent of the military dictatorship that we’ve had in the past, and that is a cause for anger. There is some confusion because nobody seems to know exactly what is happening, and government is reluctant to explain the situation,” he said.
Pratt reiterated that President John Kufuor’s government has not been truthful about the ongoing confusion in the country.
“The government does not appear prepared to explain the situation or at least to speak the truth. The statement, which was issued by the ministry of information and national orientation, is an exercise in spinning and lying, it doesn’t speak to the truth. And I am not sure that the government of President Kufuor is ready at this stage to speak the truth about what is happening,” Pratt said.
Meanwhile, Ghana’s ministry of information explained that the police detail at the former minister’s house was to replace his former security detail which consisted of military personnel and that noting sinister was in the offing as speculated.