The Accra Regional Police Command Sunday afternoon arrested two of Ghana’s popular dancehall artists Charles Nii Armah Mensah, known in showbiz circles as Shatta Wale, and Livingstone Etse Satekla, also known as Stonebwoy, in connection with the disturbances that rocked the 2019 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) in the early hours of the day.

As of press time Sunday, the police said they had taken statements from the two artistes and that they would be detained.
Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy were at the Accra Regional Police Command with their managers.

The Head of the Operations Unit of the Accra Regional Police Command, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Kwesi Ofori, who was at the VGMA, told press men that the police “will look into the confusion and other public disorder issues”.

Also invited to assist the police in their investigations were officials of Charter House, the organisers of the event.  

There was an altercation between some members of the Shatta Movement (SM), the fan group aligned to Shatta Wale, and Stonebwoy’s fans, who are known as the BHIM Natives, in the auditorium of the Accra International Conference Centre during the 20th edition of the VGMA.

The rowdy scenes happened after Stonebwoy had been called on stage to receive the award for Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year.

Although it is not clear what triggered the fracas, patrons at the event and some people who watched the show live on television alleged that they saw Shatta Wale walk towards the stage with some of his fans, while Stonebwoy was also seen pulling a gun before walking off stage.

Stonebwoy’s brandishing of a weapon led many people to ask if it was legal to display a gun in such a situation and if the weapon was licensed.

Some security experts who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity said the police would have to look into the act of brandishing a weapon in such a public place, since the act was likely to threaten patrons at the event and cause fear and panic.

They referred to Section 7 of the Arms and Ammunition Act 1972, which focuses on control of public display of arms or ammunition.

The law states: “No person shall, except in accordance with the terms of a permit granted under this decree or with the written consent of the Inspector-General of Police, publicly display any arms or ammunition (including explosives) or discharge any firearm or other weapon in any public place.”

In the course of the disturbances, the police arrested a youngman who allegedly used pepper spray in the auditorium which was said to have harmed some patrons at the event. 

Social media jabs

Both artistes took to social media to state their positions on the matter and throw verbal jabs at each other.

Shatta Wale wrote on Facebook: “My crew had good intentions moving up there for us to prove that unity to make this 20 years celebration a wonderful one, but hey, as usual,Shatta Wale dierr Ibe dis, Ibe dat, so what happened just happened and the sensible ones saw how insecure music has made some people just to pull out guns.”

In a series of tweets, Shatta Wale descended heavily on his “opponent’ in the music industry. He described Stonebwoy as the aggressor in the whole drama, pointing out that it was criminal for Stonebwoy to pull a gun in a public place.

“You pull a gun on innocent people. Ghana Police, do your work!! This is called insecurity,” he posted on his Twitter handle.

In another tweet, he said: “Your assertion that you were threatened could potentially be used as defence against the aforementioned charges, but the finding that you were in fear for your life will be a point of fact for the jury to decide.”

Stonebwoy also took to Twitter to thank the police for doing a good job on the night but denied reports that the police had arrested him that night.

“Kindly help me thank the Ghana Police Force for keeping situations calmer and at all cost ensured my safety up until I entered my gates. I was never arrested whatsoever, as some media reporters have it. Thanks to the Counter Terrorism Commander and his team,” he tweeted.          

Credit: Daily graphic

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