General News of Tuesday, 30 October 2018
The newly-elected National Youth Organiser of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), George Opare Addo, has described pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) groups Delta Force and the Invisible Forces as terrorist groups.
He stated that the activities of the two groups amounted to terrorism and must be dealt with accordingly.
Defending the existence of vigilante groups linked to the NDC however, Mr Opare Addo said on Eyewitness News on Monday that these bodies were necessary to counteract the activities of groups like the Delta Force, which he believes the authorities have turned a blind eye to.
“Look at the definition of a vigilante group. It is not a bad organisation. When people decide to be vigilant, to check things that are wrong which are not being checked by officialdom, that’s what vigilantism is all about. We’re not taking the law into our own hands. [It’s necessary] when the situation becomes critical, when they refuse to protect you. A senior police officer at the Flagstaff House was assaulted, nothing happened.”
“A judge was chased out of her courtroom, nothing happened. A Minister of State with police protection had to run for his life, nothing happened. What the NPP has aren’t vigilante groups, they are terrorist groups that must be dealt with. When you terrorise people, it becomes a terrorist group. When I protect myself, when I stand up so that I’m not oppressed, that is what vigilantism is.”
George Opare Addo, speaking in the wake of the NDC’s Youth and Women’s Conference which saw The Hawks, one of the party’s vigilante groups act as security, said such groups were necessary to “address the ills of society” that the state security agencies had failed to deal with.
He added that the NDC may be forced to establish more vigilante groups if the NPP does not disband the Invisible and Delta Forces.
“If the NPP and the President don’t disband the Invisible and Delta Forces, then we have no alternative, we have to be ready to protect ourselves. Senior Ministers of State with Police protection are running for their dear lives, how much more ordinary citizens.
If it becomes necessary [to create more vigilante groups], why not?”
The major political parties have often been accused of forming vigilante groups to man polling stations during elections.
Sometimes these groups have been involved in some election incidents including some reports of ballot box snatching, and assault on supporters of opponents.
The activities of thesegroups have come under the spotlight once again after heavily-built men believed to be members of pro-NPP group, Delta Force recently stormed a meeting of constituency executives which was being chaired by the MP for Old Tafo Pankrono Constituency, who doubles as Minister of State for Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr. Anthony Osei Akoto.
The men disrupted the meeting and allegedly wanted to physically abuse the Member of Parliament over failed election promises.
The Member of Parliament was however assisted to escape unhurt. Three men are currently standing trial for the incident.
The National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) has suggested that the lenient punishments handed to members of vigilante groups for previous offences have emboldened them to persist in their illegal activities.
The Commission’s Chairperson, Josephine Nkrumah, has also called on all political parties to disband all their vigilante groups.