General News of Thursday, 27 July 2017
The Upper East Regional Peace Council has said Ghana needs a holistic approach to fight political vigilantism.
Naba Sigri Bewong, the Chairman of the Upper East Regional Peace Council, said positive acts of genuine political vigilantism were clearly different from acts of criminality and impunity and that distinction needed to be spelt out for all to know.
He said genuine vigilantism involved law-abiding citizens or communities keeping watch to ensure that crime was curbed and the vigilantes know that they have no power or mandate to sanction punishment to perceived wrongdoers, “they know that their work is voluntary and only supplement the work of state law enforcement agencies like the police and courts”.
Naba Bewong, who is also the Paramount Chief of Sekoti Traditional Area, said this when he contributed to a roundtable discussion, dubbed: “The menace of political party vigilantism and Ghana’s electoral politics,” organised by the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) in Bolgatanga.
He said what currently persisted in the country were actually violent groups working to undermine the peace and security of the country, “adding that we should stop playing the ostrich and confront the so-called vigilante issue with objectivity.”
The Paramount Chief said the Council was not in any way dismissing the genuine livelihood issues confronting the youth, and their honest desire to participate in the governance of the country.
“We all have a duty to help them achieve their potential and become more useful to the country. We believe that when the youth are helped to channel their energies into useful ventures, we will be having a hold on the vigilantism issue”.
As part of measures to curb the menace, the Council suggested that Parliament should enact the appropriate laws scrapping political vigilante groups, and political parties should design mentoring programmes for their youth which should include assessing their political needs and assigning them to senior party people in business, party administration, parliament, political communication, research among others to understudy.
He said when this was done, political parties would be dispelling the notion that “politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is deemed necessary”.
Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, the National Coordinator of CODEO, said the stance of the NGO on the menace of political vigilante groups was that their existence was illegal and that the Ghana Police Service should ban and disband such groups immediately as a matter of national security.
He called on the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) who are largely responsible for the emergence of the groups in the 4th Republic to live up to their responsibilities and work together with the police to disband all politically affiliated vigilante groups.