Minister-designate for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, has flatly denied claims that he ordered soldiers who entered the parliamentary chamber during an overnight voting to determine the Speaker of the House on the dawn of January 7.
The armed military officers, in the company of some police personnel, stormed the chamber of Parliament to break up a scuffle between rival lawmakers, who pushed and shoved one another amidst kicking of voting screens and snatching of ballot papers.
Mr. Nitiwul, who has been re-nominated by President Akufo-Addo to handle the Defence Minister portfolio in his second term, said he did not have the capacity at the time to “order” personnel of the military to take such an action.
His denial followed allegations by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central, Ibrahim Murtala that he saw the Minister-designate making a call during the melee in the House.
NDC MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who is a member of the Appointments Committee, had quoted Murtala as having told a radio station that “Dominic Nitiwul called the military into the chamber, armed military men. They were armed to the teeth and that is completely unacceptable. I was there when he was making the call, and I confronted him. I asked him whether he didn’t feel embarrassed about what he was doing… he may lie but I wasn’t the only person there… I have witnesses he made the call in the chamber.”
However, Mr. Nitiwul denied the allegations and added that even though he sat close to the Tamale Central MP on that day, they did not engage in any of such discussion.
He further told the Appointments Committee that he had no power, at the time, to order the military since his tenure as the then Minister for Defence had ended.
“This is not a true story. I did not have the capacity to move the military, Murtala is my friend and he knows. I have not spoken to him for a long time. I didn’t go to any place. I only went to urinate and came back. I was sitting with him and the independent candidate. But the military, like I said, are the most professional,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, the Defence Minister-designate has revealed that the government is in the process of establishing 15 permanent military bases in the northern part of the country to ensure high military presence across the nation.
According to him, the establishment of the military bases falls within the government’s plan to ensure that every region of the country has a military base, intimating that the rollout would be done within one month.
“The budget for the 15 military bases is already there and we are going to roll it out and as we get more resources we will roll out all the other regions to ensure that every region has a military base to be able to assist the police in their work effectively,” he emphasized.
“Mr. Chairman, we have decided to do a serious analysis of the lands acquired by the government and vested in the Lands Commission and allocated to the Ghana Armed Forces, and that exercise is ongoing,” he added.
On recruitment, the Defence Minister-designate disclosed that in 2017, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) advertised for people to be recruited. Close to 20,000 young people applied for the recruitment (not enlistment).
“The selectors went to the field and selected over 5,000 qualified members,” he said, adding, “As we sit today, the Armed Forces has not been able to absorb all of them because of lack of training space.
“I think that the assertion is not true at all. The GAF has not recruited anybody outside this number and I don’t think that the Ghana Armed Forces can be compelled to do anything that is fishy.
“The GAF is operating within the constitution and it will always do recruitment based on the dictates of the constitution, and these officers that you see have high integrity and moral attitude and they will not do anything that is not supposed to be done.”