Proscribe political vigilantism, three bodies advocate
Three bodies – political parties, the police and civil society organizations (CSOs) have called for the disbandment of all political vigilante groups.
They said the groups were a threat to national security and must not be allowed to operate.
They made the call at a dialogue session on the growing threats of vigilantism organized by the National Peace Council, with support from the British High Commission.
The dialogue sought to deepen the conversation of finding a lasting solution to the menace created by violent vigilante groups that were currently operating in the country.
According to the participants, a survey conducted by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD)?showed that currently there were 125 of such groups across the country, with Tamale alone having 27.
They said the number was likely to increase as the country prepared for the 2020 elections.
While conceding the fact that political vigilantism was not a new development, the three bodies said their numbers and mode of operations were increasing rapidly.
Added to the situation, they said, was the seemingly high demand for the activities of vigilantes, saying that called for concern and action by all well-meaning Ghanaians and stakeholders to find a solution to the menace.
Politicization of crime
The Director General of Police Intelligence and Professional Standards (PIPS), Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr. Nathan Kofi Boakye, expressed grave concern about the politicization of crime in the country.
The development, he said, had made it difficult for the police to say at any time that crime was on the increase, as it would mean that the party in power was not paying much attention to the security concerns of the state.
“Political parties want to score points with crime prevention and think that if there is a crime being committed during their tenure, then it is their fault. Until we stop politicizing crime, vigilantism cannot be controlled,’’ he posited.
He said it was unfortunate that when a political party was in power, it trusted the police, but as soon as that party was out of government, it did not trust the police any longer.
COP Boakye stressed that the politicization of crime was very bad, as crime was a development issue.
He noted that if the activities of vigilantes continued unchecked, in 2020 every parliamentarian was going to have his or her own vigilante group to protect him or her, adding that the number was likely to increase to over 500 groups, which would be dangerous for the country.
He said the police did not need sophisticated weapons to fight the menace of vigilantism, as it was ready and able to fight any form of crime in the country, adding that what the police needed was the support of political parties to arrest their own people before arresting others.
The Minister of National Security, Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah, mentioned current security challenges to include terrorism, cybercrime, vigilantism and youth employment and pointed out that the most challenging was political vigilantism, which he said was a big dent on Ghana’s democracy and could destroy the country.
He identified the underlying factor as the winner-takes-all syndrome in the country.
He was, however, encouraged by the efforts of the National Peace Council to organize the dialogue to gather the views of stakeholders to address the canker.
For his part, the Head of Political Affairs at the British High Commission, Mr. Annup Yyas, said the High Commission believed in the National Peace Council’s ability to help promote strong democracy and peace in the country.
He commended the government for all the efforts it was making to keep the peace in the country, especially the peaceful investiture of a new Yaa Naa.
The Chairman of the National Peace Council, Rev. Emmanuel Asante, said violent vigilante activities had become a security concern to the country’s democracy, particularly around general elections.
He said tension and sometimes the destruction of lives and property had characterized competitive elections for political office in the country and that had often been fuelled by the vigilante groups associated with political parties.