“I want to make a sincere passionate appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties in our country – NPP and 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 . . . the Security Services of the country will be on standby to assist this meeting. If voluntarily disbandment by the parties is not feasible, then I will initiate legislation in the matter.”
The above were succinct words of president Akufo Addo during the 2019 State of the Nation Address presented at Parliament on Thursday, February 21, 2019.
This comment was greeted with cheers by many who were of the view, the president as taken a bold step in ensuring the menace of political vigilantes, a group that has been described by a member of the Emile Short Commission and law professor, Henrietta Mensa – Bonsu, as “political militia” and their activities been endorsed by people she calls, “war lords’.
Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Dr Kojo Asante, backed the Legislation to ban political vigilante groups. He however added that, “legislation in the long term will have to come in to ensure that certain types of activities are prescribed and we need to think through that.”
The Inspector General of Police, David Asante Apaetu urged political parties “to immediately denounced their own vigilante groups to create the necessary awareness that will embolden the police.”
“The truth is that if we prescribe a security solution to a politically motivated problem, you may only be reducing the pain but not curing the disease,” he added.
Notwithstanding, there were others who were also skeptical about the president’s call by his party to reach out to the opposition party.
General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC),Johnson Asiedu Nketsia, while welcoming the president’s call for the
According to the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, although the party welcomes the president’s decision for the two parties to meet over the menace, he noted, the party believes political vigilantism can only be solved if there is a genuine political will backed by Government’s actions.
For the man who is popularly known as “General Mosquito” the party was also of the view that there are already existing laws in the country capable of dealing with political hooliganism.
“Even though we welcome the president’s call on us to meet with the NPP to discuss this matter, we do not believe that the phenomenon of political vigilantes, or better still militias, will be solved by dabbling in flowery verbiage. We believe firmly that the existing laws of this country are adequate in dealing with the menace of political hooliganism. What is needed is a genuine political will backed by corresponding actions. President Akufo-Addo must therefore stop the empty rhetoric and act now” – those were Asiedu Nketsia’s words.
The one week ultimatum given to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) by president Akufo Addo has passed two weeks but the NPP is yet to write to the NDC for a meeting to marshall out plans to disbanding their various militia groups.
Just when calls have heightened for the disbanding of such militia groups, there comes a bombshell. Investigative Journalist with the Multimedia Group, Manasseh Azure Awuni, has uncovered activities of a militia group which has been affiliated to the NPP.
Interestingly, the militia group, referred to as, the De-Eye Group, has for the past two years, been operating at the Christiansborg Castle, an Annex to the Seat of Government and a security zone.
It is worth noting that, the Commander of this group is Nana Wireko Addo, popularly known as ‘Choman’ was once the personal bodyguard of the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Not only that, De – Eye Group equally have offices at the same security zone.
The Joy News investigations have uncovered that, the group has a Secretariat and another space which serves as the office of the Commander.
While the Ministry of the Interior, which licenses private security agencies has also said the group is not licensed to provide any security services, sources within the group, however, say De-Eye Group undertakes security operations in and outside Accra.
What’s worrying is that, the Joy News report also found that National Security officials know about the existence of the group. Sources within De-Eye Group told Joy News the National Security Operations Director, Col. Michael Opoku, had attempted to stop the group from operating from the Castle but failed. At one of the meetings in 2018, Nana Wireko Addo told members of the group that the National Security Secretariat had tried to undermine the group and had often sent spies to find fault with their operations at the Osu Castle.
This is muddying the waters of the call to ending political militiliasm in the country, especially by the governing NPP. It is interesting to know that, aside the Osu Castle, serving as the place that the Emile Short Commission is currently having their sitting to unravel the cause of clashes that erupted at the Ayawaso Wesy Wuogun by – election in January, this year, and propose ways to tackling them, it is housing four Ministers of state at the Office of the President.
The ministers who are currently, operating in the building, which serves as a facility for training of members of the militia group are; the Minister of state in charge Inner City and Zongo Development, Dr. Mustapha Hamid; Minister of State in Charge of Special Development Initiative, Hawa Koomson; the Minister of State in Charge of Planning, Professor Gyan Barfour, as well as Minister of State at the Office of the President, Rocks Bukari.
Well, for now, individuals, Civil Society Organisations, Religious bodies and leaders and International bodies, and the media, have all joined the call to ending political militias in the country.
The president has reiterated his commitment to ending the menace, the two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress have indicated their willingness to disbanding their vigilante groups, the pressure from all quarters are still on, but as to whether the political parties, especially, the NPP, who’s in power is paying lip service to the country and its citizens, only time will tell.