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21.04.2007 Feature Article

STOP THIS VIGILANTE CULTURE!

STOP THIS VIGILANTE CULTURE!

The month of April, 2007, has not been a very pleasant, or auspicious, one for me. This is a quite ironic observation for me to make, being that this month also marked my forty-something birthday. Don't as yours truly exactly how old he is, because he is not in a light-hearted mood.

But that April 2007 has been a miserable season for me, stems from the occurrence of two ghastly incidents, one of which was widely reported in the Ghanaian press. And the latter has to do with the brutal murder of a Mr. Anthony Yeboah-Boateng who, until his death was the Presiding Member of the Asunafo-North District Assembly in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana. And here, we hasten to recall the fact that this is the very region that has produced the sterling likes of former Prime Minister K. A. Busia, of Progress Party (PP) fame, and Mr. J. H. Mensah, the putative ideological dean of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

But that the Brong-Ahafo Region has become notorious for vigilantism in recent years, only makes the recent murder of Mr. Yeboah-Boateng, who also doubled as Principal Administrator of the Goaso Government Hospital, all the more unpardonable. Several months ago, a female nonagenarian was beaten senseless by a group of youths, led by their teacher and school principal, in the same region. The victim's crime was her longevity, and also the fact that she had ventured forth for a brisk early-morning walk, upon the advice of her physician.

In the case of the late Mr. Anthony Yeboah-Boateng, the flashpoint was his filial attempt to convey the corpse of his mother-in-law from Sunyani, the Brong-Ahafo regional capital, to a morgue at the Goaso Government Hospital, pending funeral and burial arrangements. He would be stopped at a barrier post erected by a concerned citizens group and, literally, lynched on the spot, on the suspicion of having murdered his own mother-in-law with the intent of using her body parts for an unspecified ritual.

What is rather curious about this whole macabre affair is that the reported barrier post had been erected at a stone's-throw distance from the Atronie Police Station. And according to reports, it was such vantage location of the barrier post that facilitated the prompt rescue of the wife of the deceased, as well as a Catholic nun and a nurse all of whom were in the company of Mr. Yeboah-Boateng, as the latter attempted to convey the corpse of his freshly deceased mother-in-law to the Goaso Government Hospital.

What is even more troubling is the fact that not only had the Atronie Police Station personnel allowed the youthful vigilante group to set up its barrier post, the officers had also woefully failed to accord the necessary professional supervision to these apparently well-meaning youths, who had reportedly erected their barrier post in response to the alleged rash of ritual murders in their district. At the time of this writing (4/21/07), the Ghana News Agency (GNA) had reported the arrest of more than 60 inhabitants of Atronie village suspected to have participated in the mob-lynching of Mr. Yeboah-Boateng, including the Queenmother of Atronie, Nana Afriyie, who had reportedly gone into hiding shortly after Mr. Yeboah-Boateng's grisly murder.

The other equally dastardly and macabre event involved the machete-and-gun slaughter of Mr. Laing Kwadwo Yeboah, 52, a New Patriotic Party (NPP) Assembly Member of the Abokobi district of the Greater-Accra Region. The latter, who had been brutally murdered just about the same time – Easter Sunday – as his Brong-Ahafo colleague, was also known to have been the NPP chairman of the Dome-Ashongman district of Accra.

In the case of Mr. Laing Yeboah, who also happened to have been the immediate-elder-brother of Mr. Eric Kwabena Baning, a brother-in-law of yours truly, the motive appears to have been robbery, as his five alleged assailants, only the leader of whom was masked, had demanded money shortly before gunning down their victim in the privacy of his own residence and then, literally, hacking his body to pieces beyond recognition and repair. He would expire two days later at the Ridge Hospital in Accra. And at the time of this writing, two of the five suspects were reported to have been arrested and placed under police custody.

Several months ago, a stalwart member of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) resident in Bronx, New York, had the “misfortune” of paying a brief visit to Ghana and got robbed of nearly his every portable possession. This incident occurred in the Kumasi suburb of Kwadaso (or Koradaso). He was, however, fortunate to escape with his life, having been locked up together with the rest of his visiting family in one empty room in his own house, while the heavily masked bandits proceeded to generously help themselves to his hard-earned property.

What was interesting about the Kwadaso episode, was the woeful inability to promptly get the Kwadaso police to investigate this heist, because the police had no vehicle to enable them to effectively and efficiently carry out the job for which they had been hired and salaried.

In fine, what all the foregoing indicates is the grievous need for the Kufuor Administration to staunchly boost up the level of security in the nation at large. For that matter, we are solemnly calling on the ministers of the Interior, Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah; Attorney-General and Justice, Mr. Joe Ghartey; and Defense, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor to step up to the proverbial plate. For, it unreservedly goes without saying that the quality of a “property-owning democracy” is squarely predicated upon the level of security afforded all and sundry.

Our humble solution, therefore, entails the hiring of more police personnel, as well as the prioritization of the budgetary allocation earmarked for national security. It may also be necessary for the Kufuor Administration to train unemployed and underemployed Ghanaian youths of sound minds in a semi-voluntary policing role with attractive stipends. Such a militia could be readily placed under the command of a Police Superintendent, with platoons of this auxiliary force being supervised on a daily basis by either Sergeants or Chief-Inspectors of the Ghana Police Force. Not only would such a program boost a civic sense of responsibility among our youths, it would also put the anti-social elements among us on notice – that willfully criminal behavior has no place, whatsoever, in Ghanaian society.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is also the author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: [email protected]

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2007

This author has authored 4567 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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