Ghana: Deal With Vigilantes ... Their Actions Are Illegal - Kojo Oppong Nkrumah to Police

10 October 2018

INFORMATION Minister designate, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has charged the security agencies in the country to bring to book persons involved in political vigilantism to deter others from engaging in same.

"There will be no need banning political vigilantism because their actions are already illegal. So it is left with the security agencies to act", Mr Oppong Nkrumah told journalists in Accra yesterday following calls on political parties to ban the groups affiliated to them.

The judiciary, he said, must also heed to the call by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and give offenders of the laws stiffer punishments to put off people who may be involved or considering perpetuating such illegality.

His challenge to the security agencies comes on the heel of a call by the National Commission Civic Education (NCCE) on political parties and security agencies to disband political vigilante groups in the country.

The concern of the NCCE comes in the wake of a violent attack by Delta Forces, a vigilante group associated with the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), at the Tafo Constituency in the Ashanti Region, where a meeting between the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei and constituency executives was disrupted.

Chairperson of the Commission, Madam Josephine Nkrumah, in Accra on Monday said Ghana was at risk of losing investor confidence, social security and peaceful co-existence if political vigilantism persisted.

"The NCCE will not cease to condemn, name and shame vigilantism and all acts of lawlessness because of the risk it poses to the country's democratic stability, social security, investor confidence and peaceful co-existence of all Ghanaians amongst other factors," she stated.

Political vigilantism is gradually gaining grounds in Ghana's democratic space as the two dominant parties continue to harbour the groups.

Though the phenomenon has existed in the past in the form of Azorka and Bamba Boys, it gained notoriety in the lead-up to 2016 when the then opposition NPP formed the Invincible and Delta Forces to aid its political course.

After failed calls by civil society to have the groups disbanded, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) after losing the 2016 polls has also formed Hawks to aid their political course.

"We wish to emphasise our readiness to order the disbandment of these groups provided and only if, President Akufo-Addo shows signs of readiness to protect the lives and property of our members by disarming and disbanding the NPPs numerous vigilante groups," General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, had said.

This entrenched positions, political watchers have said could spell doom for Ghana in the 2020 polls if care was not taken.

Describing the activities of political vigilantism as a national crisis, Madam Nkrumah said "Political parties must genuinely exhibit to Ghanaians that they respect the rule of law... ... .by disbanding immediately all militant groups within their rank and file."

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