Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister of National Security, has described political vigilantism as one of the security challenges that has become a big dent on Ghana’s democracy.
He said, apart from issues of terrorism, cybercrime and youth unemployment among others, political vigilantism could destroy the country’s democracy and peace, if nothing was done about it.
Mr Dapaah, at a day’s dialogue to find sustainable solutions to political vigilantism, organised by the National Peace Council (NPC) and its partners, said politically, violent vigilantism had become the most prominent national security issue.
“This country has had its fair share of security issues, and key among them is the fear of a coup d’etat. Violent vigilantism is an old security issue that is still lingering on in the country. It is a dent on the country’s democratic credentials and a source of worry,” he said.
He commended the NPC for contributing to playing a crucial role in promoting peace, and said, as part of steps by the government to address the menace, a meeting of security experts would be held early this month to find a lasting solution.
Vigilantism, he explained, theoretically means alertness and does not connote negativity, but its use by political parties has had a negative impact.
Ms Josephine Nkrumah, Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), said stakeholder consultations on the issue suggested that measures needed to be taken to ensure the independence of heads of security agencies, including their appointment process and security of tenure.
The consultations recommended the insulation of security agencies from political intrusion, and to embark on robust civic education by empowering the youth economically in communities that were associated with political thugs.
The NCCE, Ms Nkrumah said, would put together a report and present it to all partners, and called for a national coalition, with the overarching goal of stamping out politically violent vigilantism.
“We cannot over-emphasise the importance of this work, particularly, as we draw close to 2020 elections, when the two main political parties have stated their battle-readiness and counter-reprisals. These statements must not be taken for granted. We must act with urgency in the next few months,” she said.
Ms Nkrumah urged the security agencies to be responsible to the needs of the people, by ensuring safety in the country.
She appealed to the political parties to be tools of construction and not destruction, by promoting good governance, rule of law and development.
The Reverend Dr Emmanuel Asante, Chairman of the National Peace Council, said it was unfortunate that politics had resulted in vigilantism.
Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu, Spokesperson of the National Chief Imam, emphasised the need for a free and fair political process devoid of intimidation, whilst plugging all the holes of deficiencies in the process.