By Maxwell Ofori
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has directed the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo, to prepare and submit to Parliament the relevant legislation to deal with the menace of vigilantism.
This was contained in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, in response to the latter’s earlier letter. Dated March 14, 2019 and signed by the President himself, the legislation is to provide “appropriate sanctions against its occurrence.”
It would be recalled that the President, in his third address on the State of the Nation presented in Parliament last month, stated that the two main political parties – New Patriotic Party and the NDC – should meet to thrash out issues of vigilantism.
He added that if a voluntary disbandment was not feasible, then, he would have to come out with legislation to that effect. It has been about three weeks after the directive, and nothing has been done by the parties.
Meanwhile, the commission set up by President Akufo-Addo to investigate the recent Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, has presented its report to him.
Led by Justice Emile Short, the commission was charged to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to, the events and associated violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 31, this year.
The Commission was also to identify any person responsible for, or who has been involved in the events, associated violence and injuries; to inquire into any matter which the Commission considers incidental or reasonably related to the causes of the events and the associated violence and injuries; and to submit within one month its report to the President, giving reasons for its findings and recommendations, including appropriate sanctions, if any.
Presenting the report to the President at Jubilee House yesterday, Justice Short, on behalf of his colleagues, said no stone was left unturned in their work. According to him, the government would see the findings and recommendations useful in determining significant modifications for the future.
He commended the President for his initiative and resolve “to stamp out evil of electoral violence from our body politic,” and also commended the Chief of Staff, Frema Osei-Opare, and the Counsel to the President, Kow Essuman, for aiding their work.
Responding to the remarks, President Akufo-Addo told the Commission members that their findings and recommendations would help in curbing the canker of electoral and politically related violence.
Condemning such violence, President Akufo-Addo was happy the Commission’s work had come to an end, adding that the government, on its part, would confront the realities of the day, and try to find a panacea that would assure citizens of unshaken security in the country.
“The findings and the recommendations that have been made will, of course, be given the greatest possible attention by me and the members of my government.
“Government has the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the country, and that responsibility is not one that can be abdicated on in any occasion.”According to President Akufo-Addo, the content of the report would be closely studied, and the necessary actions taken subsequently.
“To the extent that this Commission’s findings and recommendations can help us advance the course of law and order in this country, I welcome it. It will be the subject of close study. I’m not sure if the circumstances of this Commission will call for the issuance of a white paper on our part, but we will look at all of these matters, and we will respond appropriately,” the President noted.
The recent by-election at the Ayawaso West Wuogun Constituency, following the demise of the then Member of Parliament, Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko, was characterised by violence.
The clash between National Security operatives and some people believed to be members of an alleged National Democratic Congress internal security group, Azorka Boys, left, at least, eighteen people sustaining various degrees of injuries, including gunshot wounds.
The main contenders for that seat were the New Patriotic Party’s Lydia Seyram Alhassan and the NDC’s Delali Kwasi Brempong, after which the former, wife of the then MP, won the seat.
The chaos occurred a few metres away from the La Bawaleshie polling station, but near the residence of the NDC candidate. It was the only station, out of the 137, where violence occurred.
According to National Security, it had intelligence some weapons had been housed in the home of Delali Brempong, so it had wanted to conduct a search to retrieve the said weapons.