The brawl that occurred during the 2019 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards event in Accra cannot be attributed to security lapses on the part of the event organisers, Charterhouse.
This is the assertion of the company’s head of communications, George Quaye.
He believes that the unfortunate incident has more to do with the grand issue of rivalries between musicians and how they are managed.
According to him, both Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy, who were the centre of the chaos failed to act responsibly by holding themselves back from taking certain actions which clearly wasn’t going to ensure peace at the event.
Speaking on Citi TV‘s Point on View on Monday, George Quaye said due to the height of loyalty they enjoy from fans, some of whom have grown to become fanatics, he expected the artistes to have carefully considered their actions before carrying them out to ensure that they were not misinterpreted by the fans and taking overboard.
He chided both Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy for exercising bad judgement in the way they acted on the awards night, leaving to the pandemonium that marred what was expected to be the event’s 20th-anniversary celebration.
Many are those who have accused Chaterhouse of not putting in place adequate security to avert the situation but George Quaye said “it goes beyond that. You will expect an act to know that if I get up here, or if I do this, this is what will happen… Another act should also know that this is what is happening, or the act manager knows that this not the place where I draw out a weapon,” he said.
He said about 85 security personnel were sourced from various national security installations as well as a private company, the highest number the company has ever recruited for its music awards, to oversee the security of this year’s event.
“We had close to about 85 security personnel on the ground and in the auditorium. When we were entering the premises, they had this frisk [they used]… That was the security plan that we had,” he said.
Mr. Quaye’s comment comes on the back of a revelation by a hiplife artiste, Edem that due to feuds and rivalries by some artistes in the country, most of them often have among their team a member who wields a gun to protect themselves.
Mr. Quaye believes that the incident must not be taken lightly or be blamed on Charterhouse, rather, efforts should be made to address the underlining causes of mistrust and unhealthy rivalries between artistes in the country.
The scuffle on the stage last Saturday has been a subject of many conversations in the country and has also been widely reported in local and international media.
While Stonebwoy was up the VGMA stage taking his award, Shatta Wale, his rival on the music scene, was seen moving towards the stage with a host of others presumed to be his fans.
The security on stage provided cover for Stonebwoy and the few others already up the stage but his manager engaged in fisticuffs with a member of the team moving with Shatta Wale.
The incident degenerated into pandemonium with one Nii Amoo spraying pepper spray according to Police report.
Stonebwoy also pulled out a gun in the process but there was no sound of a gun fire.
According to Mr. George Quaye, some crew members and other guests had to be rushed to the hospital due to the effects of the use of the pepper spray while some technical equipment were tampered with in the process.
The event was halted for nearly an hour but continued, however with an altered program lineup with the Artiste of the Year and Song of the Year awards not presented.
Some have suggested that Shatta Wale and his team walked up to the stage to congratulate Stonebwoy for the award but Stonebwoy and his team believe that Shatta Wale was up to harm them.
According to George Quaye, artistes must be aware of the potential consequence of their actions, given the kind of fans they have and ensure that they do not act in a way that will result in negative situations.
Asked how Stonebwoy was able to get a gun into the venue, George Quaye said “I do not know. We are all waiting for the police investigation to let us know.”
Stonebwoy later on during the show while apologizing for the incident said he pulling out a gun was only a reaction out of natural instinct.
I only had to react out of natural instincts because we all know how premeditative some people can be. We’ve seen on social media the threats and everything so we couldn’t come in unprepared because anything could have happened as you guys saw. I come in peace and I go in peace and I apologize to the whole masses of Ghana that the Awards is going to continue, he said.
He again in a press release apologized for the incident and said his team had began taking actions to review their security system and also find ways of ensuring that such incident do not recur.
Shatta Wale has not formally commented on the incident.
The two were arrested on Sunday evening and were charged and granted bail on Monday afternoon after spending the night in cells at separate police stations,
While Shatta Wale has been charged for Offensive conduct conducive to the breach of peace, Stonebwoy has been charged with use of offensive weapon, display of firearm on public and threat to harm.
Charterhouse is expected to hold a press conference soon to announce possible sanctions and actions it is taking with regards to the incident.