My heart felt condolences for all who have died or injured through the activities of vigilantism in Ghana. Vigilante groups in Ghana have gained recognition, funding and support because their activities benefit political parties. In the Ghana’s 4th Republic, Political Party vigilante groups activities have been limited to internal affairs of a political party. They have together with police to provide security for political parties during Rallies, Press Conference, Primaries, and have added up to the numbers during political parties demonstration.
I don’t believe that Vigilante groups are used to provide security. In Ghana, there is a bias formation of the police council, since the president reserve the right to appoint personnel constituting the police council.
The problem is the political party when in opposition don’t trust the police service, their defeat in election invariably mean their expiration of the usage of police service for political reasons. In Ghana, there are numerous of private security companies for a political party to employ once they do not trust the police and security services in opposition. However, they reason why I don’t believe that vigilante groups are not for security reasons is because political parties have the option to hire private security personnel. Rather, parties use vigilante groups for party security.
Private security company has standards, wear unique uniforms for identification and have detail on the status of the men that have been deployed and the kinds of activities they are engaged in. Since vigilante groups are used for politically motivated dirty works and intimidation tactics just to win an election, you realize that political vigilantism is not about security at all. Political party vigilante groups date way back, as once upon a time Nkrumah’s CPP had Hoodlums as against UP’s Action Troopers. At the time, these vigilante groups were used in the name of self defense and retaliation.
In contemporary time, vigilante groups gain lamplight and attention when ruling governments were unable to enforce the law where vigilante groups were culpable, since they bear political party affiliation. The inability to apply the law against vigilante and pampering vigilante groups with soft punishment like fine, which will eventually be paid on their behalf by political parties, have caused the recent increase in the formation of these groups in Ghana. The likes of Delta force, Invisible force, The Hawks, The Lions, The Dragons, Bindiriba, Basuka boys, Badariba, Zongo Caucus, Veranda Boys, Supreme, Mahama Boys, Azorka boys, Bolga Bull Dogs, Eastern Mamba, Aluta Boys, Nima boys, and Kandahar boys, have been reportedly endorsed by either NPP and NDC. Victims have suffered injures and even dead from the operations of political party vigilante.
Political parties and government are only paying lip service to the problem. That is why the President can publicly comment that he has ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to arrest the vigilante groups knowing very well that the IGP will not do any arrest.
Political party are only eating and ‘enjoying’ from the cracks of vigilante groups. The recent Ayawaso Wuogon by-election violence has given NDC and opportunity to demonstrate not to crack down on the vigilante groups. No wonder, the NPP through Hon Lydia, are going ahead to demonstrate a donation of Ghs5,000, and circulating hospital receipts on their social media handle. Although, other caucus claim the donation has been rejected.
My condolence is heartfelt because solution to vigilantism lies with the political parties who are and have not shown any sign to end the activities of political vigilantism. Hypothetically, in the future if another violence occur and NPP is in opposition, it will give NPP opportunity to demonstrate on the street whilst maybe the NDC will be making donations to victims, if NDC is in power. The circle of hypocrisy continues.
A survey by Center for Democratic Development (CDD) showed that 63% of Ghanaian feels that political vigilantism is a threat to our democracy. The hypocrisy will be so great if you analyze the voting pattern of the said 63%. There are other political parties in Ghana, who have no vigilante groups. Can voters illustrate how threaten they feel by voting for a third alternative. Maybe 2020 election results will give us the answer.
NPP and NDC are only but a cancerous tumor for our democracy, especially now that they are trading violence over development. The solution to political parties vigilantism to a large extent lies in the Press Release on 7th February, 2019 by the Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI), thus the Electoral Commissioner must sanction those Political Parties with Vigilante Groups. The Electoral Commision (EC) is a regulator of Political Parties, therefore, sanctioning Political parties by way of fines, revoking of registration, nullifying election reaults.
Head of development ILAPI
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