Vigilantism – An Aged Old god In Ghana
Activities of vigilante groups have and continue to be an old ghost in Ghanaian politics. Ghana, who is in the mud struggling to break out from the chains of poor sanitation, corruption, maternal mortality, amongst other pertinent issues under discussions, she has added up to her existing woes and troubles – Vigilantism!
Some historians and scholars are of the view that Vigilantism could be traced as far as the times of independence. Notwithstanding the fact that there were some vigilante struggles between the then CPP and the NLM, before, during and after the independence of Ghana, that is nothing to be compared to what Ghana has experienced in the fourth Republic.
Currently, Ghanaians have witnessed political backed up groups holding to ransom some court proceedings, we have seen vigilante groups causing mayhem during elections, we have watched vigilante groups attacking public officials, opposition parties and seizing property and assets. We have recorded several unscrupulous shooting incidences by vigilante groups across the length and breadth of the country and the very current one – the ‘almighty Ayawaso West Wuogon By-Elections’ where Ghanaians observed heavy vigilante operations fused with State Security Agencies (National Security, SWAT, Police Service), among others. In all of these happenings, the ultimate aim of these groups was to protect their political parties’ ideologies and interests. The situation even becomes worse when the leaders of these groups are seen boldly defending the immoral activities of these groups instead of criticizing the acts.
Presently, the two main political parties in Ghana – the opposition NDC and the incumbent NPP are the anchors in vigilantism in the country. These political parties incite young men who think by one way or the other, they are being cheated on a premise by resorting to riots and violence. Political parties give them training and support them with money to make them be in a position to deliver. Mostly these young men are unemployed so they are quick to act after seeing the money.
A lot of factors have contributed to the height we see vigilantism in Ghana today. Paramount of them is the high rate of unemployment in the country. Young men who have engaged in such activities do not have anything meaningful at their disposal doing so they tend to opt for such alternatives as and when they come to enable them at least feed themselves in the interim.
In addition, lack of enforcement prowess by our security agencies is also a major cause. There are several laws in the country regarding security yet they lie adamant. This is because the agencies which are supposed to make sure they function have their dealings being politically interfered at times or lack the requisite tools and equipment to roll out.
Moreover, the intolerable role political leaders, public officers and government in general play with respect to vigilantism is a major cause of the rampant happenings. These vigilante groups perform their functions to suit the interest of their political parties of which these government officials and political leaders are part of. They fund their activities and protect their interest as well. This makes it difficult to counter the menace since they are being backed by some strong pillars who are in authority.
It is important that we put in place concrete measures to combat vigilantism which has become an albatross hanging around the neck of Ghanaians. This will take collaborative actions from all stakeholders including the government, security agencies, political parties, citizens, among others. The Government should make sure that it strengthens the systems and agencies in the country.
The Government should further ensure it resources these institutions with the necessary training and funding to make them be in a better position to do what is expected of them. To add to, the government must create employment avenues to engage the youth in the country so they do not fall prey to political parties who give them 'peanuts' and incite them to do wrong in the society.
Currently, there has been a bill laid before parliament to address vigilantism which is pending parliamentary deliberations and discussions to be passed into law. This may not be enough in the absence of effective enforcement after it has been passed into law. The security agencies who have the mandate to protect the rights, lives, and property in the country must stand their grounds to execute their duties diligently devoid of political interferences.
Political parties are also to accord security agencies with the necessary respect as being the mandated institution by law to protect individuals, their rights and their interests not their internal security groups.
Ghana is our country and it is the only abode we have. We have the obligation as responsible Ghanaians to make Her great and strong. Let us make our CONSCIENCE BE OUR GUIDE!!!.
May peace continue to reign in GHANA.
RAYNOLDS NYARKO DARKWAH,
DATA PROTECTION COMMISSION - GHANA.
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