TWENTY people were injured yesterday when the process to find a replacement for the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu as the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary aspirant for the Asante Akim North Constituency turned violent.
At the centre of the storm was Mr Andy Appiah-Kubi, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Free Zones Board, who is also one of the contestants determined to replace the late Finance Minister.
Police reinforcement was called in from Kumasi to bring the situation under control and as of press time the heavily armed policemen were still patrolling the Patriensa and Juansa areas where the disturbances occurred.
The clashes erupted when the filing of nominations opened for a re-run of the primary and the police confirmed that at least 20 people reported various degrees of injury and were given forms to attend hospital.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Richard Baduweh, the outgoing Konongo Divisional Police Commander, told the Daily Graphic on phone from Konongo that the police had to rescue a number of people from the bush where they had sought refuge.
He indicated that one “machoman” had been arrested and was helping the police in their investigations. The man was said to be a member of a group which barricaded the Konongo-Agogo road to prevent some youth from travelling to Konongo to demonstrate against Mr Appiah-Kubi’s decision to contest the primary.
According to Mr Baduweh, Mr Appiah-Kubi said it was rather his opponents who were using all negative means, including demonstrations, to prevent him from entering the race and that his supporters were bent on countering those moves.
In spite of all that, Mr Appiah-Kubi managed to outwit the demonstrators to file his nomination.
Explaining further, ACP Baduweh said his outfit had information yesterday morning that some people had blocked part of the Konongo-Agogo road and were harassing opponents of Mr Appiah-Kubi who were on their way to Konongo.
He said policemen were sent to the area to dismantle the barrier and, in the circumstance, one “machoman” was arrested.
ACP Baduweh stated that when the police had information that some people had run into the bush for safety, they followed up to rescue them.
When the Daily Graphic got in touch with Mr Appiah-Kubi on phone, he denied ever recruiting people to attack his opponents and that what happened was a clash between his supporters and people who were bent on scuttling his moves to win the parliamentary slot.
"The demonstrations against me were a cacophony of intended disruptions of the due process and I have cleverly beaten them to it because after all I managed to file my nomination," he said.
The parliamentary aspirant accused the DCE for the area, Mr George Kwame Frimpong, and the NPP Constituency Chairman, Nana Adu Asabere Kyei, of masterminding the demonstrations to prevent him from getting the nod.
He said the way the two had kept mute over the series of demonstrations against him was ample testimony of their endorsement and support of such actions.
Mr Appiah-Kubi stated that he picked his nomination form last Friday and completed it for submission yesterday.
According to him, on Sunday he had information that the DCE and Nana Asabere had recruited some people to demonstrate against him in Konongo to stop him from filing his nomination.
"I quickly informed the Konongo Police about the situation and further told them that my supporters had decided to organise a counter demonstration if my opponents went ahead with their planned action," he said.
Mr Appiah-Kubi said yesterday morning he had a message from some party people that his opponents were gathering in Konongo for the demonstration so he sneaked to the constituency headquarters to file his nomination before the demonstrators arrived there.
Even then, he said, the constituency secretary tried to delay the process.
Mr Appiah-Kubi said he left for Kumasi and it was later on that he heard his supporters had clashed with some of the demonstrators.
He described his opponents as a bunch of people who were bent on breaking the law because they knew that "I will win".
"I am not the aggressor, and that is why, in spite of the demonstrations against me that I am a murderer, I have decided to remain calm and resort to the law to fight my cause," he said.
According to him, he was sure of winning the seat, no matter the lies, violence and propaganda against him.
He said he had tape recordings of some people who were injured in the clash, saying that they had been given GH¢5 each to take part in the demonstration against him.
When contacted, Nana Asabere denied that he masterminded the demonstrations against Mr Appiah-Kubi or any involvement in it.
As of Sunday, six people had collected nomination forms from the constituency office in Konongo to contest the Asante-Akim North Constituency primary of the NPP, reports Nana Yaw Barimah.
The Constituency Chairman, Nana Adu Asabere Kyei, named the six as Mr Isaac Kwasi Hammond, an Accra-based businessman; Mr Sam Anyan Kusi, a World Bank project co-ordinator; Lawyer Asumadu, a Kumasi-based legal practitioner; Ms Susanna H. Akomeah, who is based in London; Lawyer Amoako, an Accra-based lawyer, and Mr Andy Kwame Appiah-Kubi, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Free Zones Board.
The nominations were declared closed at 5.00 p.m. yesterday and vetting is expected to take place today, after which the date for voting to choose Mr Baah-Wiredu’s replacement would be announced.