THUGGERY DESCENDS ON CAPE COAST
THE STAGE has been set for what may be a potentially dangerous cycle of violence and revenge when unnamed individuals set upon the newspaper sales clearing house of Mr. E. K. Biney, a popular newspaper vendor in Cape Coast, and tore the entire place up in a orgy of political hooliganism. The centre is the hub of the intelligentsia in Cape Coast who daily visit to discuss social and political issues of the day while making their choice of newspapers and magazines stocked by the industrious vendor who has been keeping Cape Coasters up to date with reading materials for nearly two decades.
Mr. Biney was targeted following allegations that he is one of the sponsors of the hot political 'property,' Mr. Edwin Buckman, 31, a challenger and thorn in the flesh of Christine Churcher, the political heroine who used to rule the roost in this hot-bed of political agitations. Cape Coast is and remains one of contemporary strongholds of the ruling NPP and a defining battleground for the two big parties, because the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer also lays claim to the town as his turf.
The town has been a boiling cauldron since the youth in the town threatened to vote 'skirt and blouse' in the forthcoming elections.
Independent investigations are that there is some merit in allegations that Biney is a Buckman sympathiser, but whether he is a sponsor or not was an issue that could not be confirmed in the 36 hours since The Chronicle team set up temporary camp in the area.
Surprisingly, the incident occurred by the premises of the Ghana Commercial Bank building, which houses the offices of all the major news organisations, Ghana News Agency, The Chronicle and Daily Graphic, but there appears to be a marked reluctance on the part of the government-owned newspapers to report on such incidents involving NPP Government officials.
The official Chronicle Correspondent, who has been chronicling events here ever since the previous reporter, Mr. Paa Lewis Ankrah, joined the NPP Regional Office, after years of reporting for the paper, was alarmed yesterday when a recce team dispatched by the editor to monitor and evaluate complaints by Miss Churcher that Paintsil is biased against her arrived.
He expressed concern that with the attack on Biney, Christie's supporters may engage in what used to be the stock in trade of the opposition NDC, and switch draw him in following the MP's expression of reservations against his reports.
However, Chronicle editors by press time were making unofficial reports to the Minister of Interior, the Inspector General of Police, the Office of National Security about the onset of hooliganism and the concerns of the reporter.
On Monday, The Chronicle editor received a call from the office of the Minister cum MP, demanding that the paper's correspondent in Cape Coast, David Allan Paintsil, should be removed from his new posting in Cape Coast because 'he has been writing reports against us' since he was transferred to Cape Coast.
It has been established that the MP is a close friend of The Chronicle publisher, who assisted her during her battle for Parliament.
The publisher, Kofi Coomson, was on hand when unnamed security men hounded the MP after the 2000 elections, steering her away from her pursuers and into a hotel at Cantonments, Accra, owned by his friend where she cooled her heels until the threat subsided.
Ms. Churcher with Madam Hawa Yakubu was among the women under pressure that the publisher threw a protective gauntlet over at the time with a big help from the proprietor of Wangara hotel.
The editor, Mr. Kojo Omaboe, yesterday said that he could not see how the relationship between the publisher and the MP could be used to effect a transfer of a reporter, so long as he is not 'manufacturing' stories, and expressed concern about the safety of Paintsil.
It is believed that unless the security services intervene immediately, a counter strike and a cycle of violence may descend on the town. There are many precedents in the country.
The prayers of General Obasanjo and Christendom may have been in vain if that occurs.