A debate over the expiration of the term of Sub-Metro Chairmen, as spelt out in the Local Government Act, has taken an embarrassing twist, after two National Democratic Congress (NDC) constituency chairmen, who also double as chairmen of two sub-metros in Kumasi, were arrested last week Thursday, over alleged death threats.
The NDC chairmen for Oforikrom and Bantama, Alhaji Hamidu Mohammed and Aratio Coffie respectively, were yesterday arrested and granted bail after they allegedly threatened the life of the Assembly Member for Anloga East Electoral Area, Amidu Gariba. Gariba, who is reportedly spearheading a crusade to get chairmen of the ten sub-metros under the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) to vacate their offices on grounds that their terms have expired, was said to have lodged a complaint with the Oforikrom police that he had received death threats from both chairmen, after he raised the issue on the floor of the assembly during a session last week.
The two chairmen have since denied the allegations, labelling Gariba as a "troublemaker" who is seeking to divide the front of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and have, therefore, threatened to fight the case to its logical conclusion, in order to establish their innocence. According to investigations by The Chronicle, Amidu Gariba, together with the Oforikrom Constituency Secretary of the NDC, Mustapha Suleman, had earlier on Tuesday asked the Chairman of the Oforikorm Sub-Metro, Alhaji Mohammed, to vacate the office by Thursday, or face eviction by force.
After receiving the threat, Alhaji Mohammed informed Mr. Aratio, the Bantama Chairman, about the development, and enquired whether he had also received a similar threat.
According to information, Mr. Aratio said upon being informed, he also called Gariba to seek clarification on the matter, but Gariba allegedly turned cold and started insulting him (Aratio) on the phone, to which he also replied. According to the Bantama NDC Chairman, he told Gariba that all the 10 sub-metro chairmen would be meeting, and that he (Gariba) would be high on the agenda, a statement Gariba interpreted to be a threat, and, therefore, lodged a complaint with the police, culminating in the arrest of the two chairmen.
When The Chronicle arrived at the Oforikrom Police Station on Thursday morning, the personnel on duty had taken statements of the two chairmen, who were initially arrested, only to be granted bail later. Amidu Gariba had also given a statement to the police.
Meanwhile, Gariba has confirmed the story, stating that he made the report to the police, because he had received death threats from an unidentified caller.
He told the paper that on Tuesday April 22, around 4:13 p.m., he received a call on his mobile phone, but the person calling refused to identify himself, despite several demands. Gariba said the caller kept on ranting and threatening that he would deal with him if he did not stop poking his nose into the affairs of the Sub-Metro chairmen. "I had no choice, but to report the matter to the police; it's my life we are talking about. I asked him several times to identify himself, but he refused, maybe it was the police who later traced the number and arrested him," he insisted.
LEAKAGE OF MINISTER'S LETTER
The genesis of the impending confusion is said to have begun when Amidu Gariba allegedly laid hands on a letter said to have been written by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kwasi Oppong Fosuh, to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District chief executives (MMDCEs), instructing all sub-metro chairmen to prepare handing over notes, and present them to the assembly in line with the Local Government Amendment Instruments, 2004 LI 1804, 1805 and 1806. Though the said letter, a copy of which has been made available to the paper, had not been made officially public, how Amidu Gariba managed to secure a copy and produced it before an assembly sitting has since remained a mystery to the KMA boss and other concerned people.
Gariba was said to have ambushed the assembly by moving a motion, displaying the letter which the KMA boss himself said he was yet to read, and adequately inform himself about the content. But the Anloga East Assembly Member has denied the claim that he had exclusive access to the letter, stressing that the letter was distributed to all assembly members who attended sitting on the said day. He further parried the allegations by the two NDC chairmen that he went to the Oforikrom office to instruct Alhaji Mohammed to leave, explaining that he, together with three other assembly members, went on supervision and monitoring to find out if the directives had been carried out.
According to him, the team only dealt with the Chief Administrator of the Sub-metro, who, by the Local Government process, ought to take oversight responsibility in an event of the expiration of the term of office of the sub-metro chairman.