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Vigilantism, a case of looming national danger or helplessness?

botchway November 6, 2018


Ghana has steadily and consciously gained the international accolade of being a beacon of democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This enviable multiparty democratic success was not gained out of a vacuum, but through conscious efforts of stakeholders and the general public who have, over the years, consciously guarded the political process to date.

Ghana has gone through seven consecutive elections without large-scale violence, and three peaceful changes of power between its two main parties – the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – in the 4th Republican era.

However, a creeping phenomenon that has poked its stinking nose into our political discourse, and which risks derailing our political gains is the issue of vigilantism that is slowly perpetuating itself.

The NDC and the NPP have increasingly relied on vigilante groups to provide security for their campaigns and ensure their electoral victory.

These groups, made up of largely unemployed youth, mobilise party supporters, serve as polling or monitoring agents during voter registration, voting, and results tabulation, and ‘protect’ polling centres and electoral materials.

Ironically though, more than 5,000 electoral precincts were considered flashpoints by the Ghana Police Service ahead of the 2016 elections, whilst the proliferation of illicit arms in the country is an issue the security agencies have not yet dealt with.

Both sides of the political divide have expressed little or no trust in the security apparatus they superintend themselves

The Azorka Boys, loyal to and named after Chief Awudu Sofo Azorka, Northern Regional of the NDC, the Aluta Boys and recently the Hawks among others are known to be affiliated with the NDC. The Delta Force and the Invincible Forces are among the groups affiliated with the NPP.

These groups have unleashed too many mayhem and criminalities than can be contained for a nation tagged as peaceful and hospitable, including even going to the extent of invading the courts.

The Chronicle, in its November 5th, 2018, issue had a banner headline, “NDC Militias Run Riot In Tamale”, reporting of brutalities meted to party executives by Aljazeera, Alqaeda and Aluta Boys in Tamale.

However, in the face of this worrying trend, the police, on November 4th, 2018, through its Director of Transformation Programmes Office, Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dr. Benjamin Agordzor, ‘threw its hands in the air’ by crying that their hands are tied when it comes to vigilantism in Ghana.

He added that the “Police are unable to deal with political vigilantism because their hands are tied due to political interference,” according to a pulse.com.gh report on his speech during a symposium organised by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) in Accra last Wednesday, October 31, 2018 to discuss ways in which stakeholders could foster efforts to eradicate the menace.

He added: “If care is not taken, we will have rule of political parties instead of rule of law,” he warned.

“If you thought that vigilante activities constitute a problem now, then wait until it truly explodes. I call it Ghana’s unexploded political ordinance,” he warned.

Are we losing the battle? Is it an inevitable terror that awaits Ghana, while all we can do is to stare in awe, knowing that our political leaders brought a little cub (baby lion) home and trained it to be a killer, and now its results stare us in the face, looming with lightning alacrity?

How long would we throw our hands in the air, whilst staring at the collapse of our political image built over the years?

Sean Reichle said: “Doing nothing gets you nothing,” and Lao Tzu summarised the advice for us, saying, “An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.”

A word to the wise ‘is in The Chronicle’.

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