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
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