“I want to use the platform of this Message to make a sincere, passionate appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties in our country, New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC), to come together, as soon as possible, preferably next week, to agree on appropriate measures to bring an end to this worrying and unacceptable phenomenon of vigilantism in our body politic…
“If voluntary disbandment by the parties is not feasible, then I will initiate legislation on the matter…What was tolerated over the years cannot, and must not, be accepted anymore. We must not take our peace and security for granted – not for a moment. Our children and grandchildren will not forgive us if we were to compromise our peace and stability. I will not permit that to occur under my watch.” -H.E. President Akufo-Addo February 21, 2091.
This is the first-ever sincere commitment by any sitting President of this country to tackle and put an end to vigilantism and private armies in Ghana. The above statement is self-explanatory, because the only political parties culpable are the NDC and NPP. And what more, such private armies in our system were the sole making of the NDC. However, the alleged response from General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketiah was rather appalling and provocative.
“The impression I get is that, here, we are with a president who actively participated in recruiting and training of vigilante groups, trained in state facilities, armed with state resources, and are moving around in state vehicles, and, in effect, embedding his own party vigilante into the state security and now distances himself from the problem, and is now calling for two powerless political parties to go and meet.
“And so we believe that…it must begin from the president taking action to cleanse the state institutions of these vigilante elements, because, he has recruited so many of them and embedded party vigilantes within the state security,” Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, February 21, 2019.
This is a clear statement from a bully, who believes in boot-for-boot, and who is scared of reform. In fact, the NDC General Secretary is rather talking about his party and its predecessors, Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). So, in case he and those who think like him have forgotten, let us take a trip down memory lane.
The disorder that took place in an originally well-known highly disciplined Ghana Armed Forces was when the AFRC came into existence in June 1979, and made lots of lower ranking men and women carry away arms and ammunitions, which became very common all over the place. Some of these ended up in wrongful hands.
It must be noted here that the first high profile armed robbery took place in Tesano, Accra, when an Italian was shot dead during the early days of the Dr Hilla Limann administration.
Then came the PNDC in December 1981, where, this time round, what Asiedu Nketiah is accusing President Nana Akufo-Addo of, was fully implemented. Rawlings did not trust the military, and so to put them in check, he formed private armies around him. First, it was People’s Militia, then came the Military Commandos and Police Panther Unit, which were not under any military or police command, but directly under the Office of the Chairman of the PNDC.
It must be noted that the members of these private armies were not given training in any regular military institution or police depot. Some were taken overseas to Libya, Cuba and Bulgaria and given short courses on how to shoot and kill, but not how to be disciplined, very disciplined, especially when one has a weapon in hand.
It must be noted and made clear to Johnson Asiedu Nketiah to recall his memory, that yes, the 1992 Constitution frowns on private armies. Art.200 (2) states that: No person or authority shall raise any police service except by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament, and Art. 210 (2) also states that: No person shall raise an armed force except by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament.
Come the Fourth Republic, when Rawlings was faced with what to do with his private armies, he had them officially put in police and military uniforms, and the Commandos became the 64 Battalion (to commemorate June 4), and the Panthers remained as such, but all the members were directly under the President and worked from the Office of the President, meaning they were all presidential staffers.
Assuming, and I am only alleging here, if Aseidu Nketiah finds nothing wrong with this, should he complain, if, and indeed if, more of such privately trained men and women are continually employed directly in the Office of the President?
Certainly, this is not what is happening today or has ever happened in any NPP government, but what is haunting the NDC General Secretary is that since the NDC could do it, any party can.
He wants to lay claims that this current government has secretly employed its party vigilantes into the state security units. Firstly, whatever is wrong in employing able and sound minded people who have shown that they can work in the armed forces, police or national security, into such units?
Okay, and right, he wants the president to dismiss all such persons who have ever worked as party agents from the security services. Wouldn’t it be fair to start from the beginning and rid the security services off any person who was politically appointed by the NDC?
Yes, all those who were in the 64 Battalion, and are still serving, must immediately be relieved of their duties, and we work things down from those whose hands were held by a party person or a minister of state and given a job in any of the security services, to those who found favour because they were party activists.
While, we are here, may we ask Johnson Aseidu Nketiah whether the Special Forces formed by the NDC government was formed from serving officers and men from the Ghana Armed Forces, or were macho party men pushed into short term training and put in uniform? If they were serving officers and men, then may we find out whether they were randomly picked or they were picked based on their association with the NDC? If they were not serving members of the Ghana Armed Forces, then it is obvious where they came from, and the way Johnson Aseidu Nketaih was so overjoyed when these beefy macho men with painted faces, looking more like they were in masks, marched past, and declared that the NPP was to be forewarned, in that they have met their match, clearly indicated why they were formed: they were official NDC vigilantes in uniform to always attack the NPP, and not to defend Ghanaians.
So to Aseidu Nketiah, “could we go by what you are suggesting and rid the Ghana Armed Forces off these Special Forces?” The members of the security services are there to protect all Ghanaians, irrespective of one’s political, religious or ethnic background, so to form a special unit to attack and deal ruthlessly with a particular political party amounts to something unconstitutional, and this unit can only be assumed to be a private army answerable to the political party which gave them that employment.
Long before President Akufo-Addo made this remark on how to resolve political vigilantism, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), David Asante-Apeatu, suggested to all the political parties to disband their vigilante groups. Johnson Aseidu Nketiah came out openly to say the NDC would not disband its group. Here we are blaming the IGP for not being independent, and when he acts independently, the NDC vows to defy his instructions.
Not long after, in a solely NDC meeting, where only NDC members and those who truly mattered in the NDC were in attendance, one of them shot and killed another member. Instead of taking the wise counsel of the IGP to disband and strip those persons of all arms and ammunition given them, the NDC decided to protect them, and the result is that they have started killing each other.
And instead of taking advantage of what the president is mandating, Aseidu Nketiah is saying the government should get rid of all party members in the security services. That is okay, I think it can be done, and let not the NDC shout of witch hunting when the axe falls on all NDC members in the security services and forces. When the president brings out a law to deal with the situation, we shall know who the violators of the peace in this country are.
And, by the way, what is Aseidu Nketiah’s explanation on civilians carrying arms about and shooting people at meetings? Since bullets do not have any forwarding addresses, the NDC General Secretary must be aware that any bullet at all can locate his GPS location. So should such people be made or forced to surrender all arms and ammunitions on them? And who are they, by the way?
The political theory of Boot-for-Boot has been propagated by the NDC, and it is a very dangerous and deadly theory, which has started claiming victims from the NDC itself. A theory to instigate people to take up arms, and kill even a brother, cannot be accepted in this country.
While All-Die-Be-Die means defending your rights, even if you are to die, Boot-for-Boot is to attack with the intention of even killing someone or anyone who seems to be disturbing you. And did I clearly hear a woman whose child had been kidnapped screaming that if the child is not found, they will go Boot-for-Boot? Meaning exactly what?
Something dangerous has been bequeathed unto us by the NDC, and it could kill us all, as it has started killing its own members.
Anyone who attacks the President for his comments of All-Die-Be-Die, and call him horrible names like a terrorist, should now know the difference, so let no one be hare-brained to say All-Die-Be-Die is evil, let no infantile minded person condemn the President because he commended people who had to fight for their rights and dignity, by saying All-Die-Be-Die.
Hon. Daniel Dugan