Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Activities Of Political Vigilante Groups

Their historical antecedence can be traced to the pre and post-independence era but activities of vigilante groups attracted the headlines during the 2012 election petition hearing in 2013 when a group of young men with T-shirts bearing the inscription ‘Invincible Forces’ linked to the NPP appeared in town. Despite the heavy presence of state security, some members of the group made it into the Supreme Court premises through the vehicles of some of the principal actors in the case. Two weeks after the Invincible Forces registered their presence in the Court premises, another group, linked to the NDC appeared with T-shirts bearing the inscription ‘Untouchable Forces’. In fact, they had a tough time with the police who used pepper spray to disperse them.

Unfortunately, the two major parties did not condemn their actions. Thankfully, their boisterous posture vanished when the Contempt Mood was activated by the nine- member bench which saw some otherwise influential people, at least on the airwaves, sent to jail. One was wrong in thinking that the groups died off after the petition. The Invincible Forces surfaced at the National Headquarters of the NPP wielding offensive weapons during a news conference which had to do with appointment of some executives. Not long after that emerged a counter group, the ‘Bolga bull dogs’, which gave a twenty four hour ultimatum to the Invincible Forces to vacate the party premises or faced its wrath. Thanks to Nana Addo’s call for calm. Who knows what would have happened.

Thomas Hobbes said centuries ago that in the absence of law and order life will be brutish, nasty and short. Per Hobbes assertion, it is important for the law enforcement agencies to step up efforts and deal ruthlessly with these illegal security groups which can best be described as ‘minor insurgence or internal rebels’. There is no doubt tension will rise in this election year. The security agencies must allay the fears of the public by giving out information about how cases of people arrested in the past for politically linked violence regardless of the magnitude and the political party involved ended. Let us not risk national security on the altar of party security or political expediency. History should always serve as a guide for us. Architects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda did not appear to be a threat to anyone until the bloodbath, which has left a serious scar on the conscience of Africans. The power of the state must be seen demonstrably stronger than any other. The IGP John Kudalor should be encouraged not to give in to any pressure to go soft on any vigilante groups, whether for the ruling party or the opposition. All other security agencies should join forces with the police to tackle these illegal groups with immediate effect as the clock ticks towards the December 7 election.

It is known fact globally that no insurgence, militia, rebels or vigilante group can survive without a sustainable source of funding. Finances of any vigilante group must be told in plain language that, Ghana's Peace is priceless. As a people, let’s guard it and work with the police and other security agencies to conduct their activities without fear or favour. The police have spoken, the political parties have endorsed it and the atmosphere looks calm but the stark reality is that no one can tell the real meaning behind the silence of vigilante groups. It will be in the national interest if the police and national security could get leaders or spokespersons of the known vigilante groups to publicly declare all their groups disbanded. Political parties must also show commitment by denouncing vigilante groups at the least opportunity.

Competitive elections ignite tensions and that is normal and must be seen as such, but that should not contain the element of physical violence. Let us together help to make our nation enviable as we vote in December, after all only God ordains leaders. Long live Ghana.

BY GEORGE ASEKERE, A JOURNALIST

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