Not too long ago at a shop in the city center of Accra, there was the sudden shout of "Julo julo". This familiar call indicates the presence of a thief. Immediately the shop attendant picked a heavy stone and went towards the direction of the alleged thief. After a few minutes he returned and described with satisfaction how he had helped to punish the alleged thief. He added that but for the timely intervention of a police patrol team the alleged thief would not be alive to tell the story. When asked what the alleged thief had stolen, the shop attendant did not know. All he could say was, “They say he stole either a mobile phone or money or something." In recent times it is not unusual to see people joining a mob to visit mayhem on a person accused of a crime without knowing the offence of the alleged victim.
After twenty five years of Ghana's return to constitutional democracy, one expects such incidents to cease. It is sad that instant justice which takes diverse forms such us flogging of the suspected criminals, stripping them naked and beating them with blocks, sticks and in fact subjecting them to all sorts of inhuman treatment are still not issues of the past.
On Monday Ghanaians woke up to the news of the gruesome murder of Captain Maxwell Mahama of the Ghana Armed Forces at Denkyira-Obuasi in the Central Region. One is tempted to ask what has happened to the revered Ghanaian culture of hospitality, and love for peace. What crime did the soldier commit other than to protect the lives and property of the very people who dealt with him in this cruel manner? This is not the first time there has been an incident of mob justice or discussion on it. Ghanaians need to unite to find a lasting solution to mob justice in order to protect all citizens. It is difficult to predict when anybody can be mistaken for a criminal when there is a sudden call for instant justice. This kind of injustice that led to the torture of Captain Mahama is a deviation from our rich cultural values and a violation of international conventions that guarantee the rights to life and fair justice to every human being.
As a nation we need to embark on intensive campaign to make mob justice unpopular. When any Ghanaian is tempted to participate in any form of instant or mob justice that person should know it is a crime. To imagine that people are sometimes lynched for petty offences such as pick-pocketing; and imagined crimes such as witchcraft is really appalling.
The murder of Captain Mahama is an indication of an illiterate and ignorant society where human rights violations impede access to justice and where violence and cruelty are becoming acceptable forms of punishment. The time has come for the inculcation of a culture that frowns upon violence as a way of solving problems. With heavy hearts we mourn the death of this gallant soldier who was jogging to keep fit to serve mother Ghana.
Let us say no to instant justice of all forms and ensure that the perpetrators of this dastardly act are brought to book. This is the least of tributes that as a people we can pay this honorable soldier.
Captain Mahama, Due ne amanehunu.
BY : DAVID OWUSU-AMOAH, CULTURAL JOURNALIST & HEAD OF RESEARCH AT THE INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT.