President tasks AG to start legislation on vigilantism
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has instructed the Attorney General to expediently put together and submit to Parliament the specific legislation to deal with vigilantism and to provide appropriate sanctions against its occurrence.
The directive is in keeping with the Presidents pronouncement to Parliament during the State of the Nation Address in February.
During the Address he said he would initiate legislation to end political violence and thuggery if the main political parties did not voluntarily disband their vigilante groupings.
The President called on the two main political parties; the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to come together and dialogue to come up with the appropriate measures to end vigilantism in the body politic before it became part of the political culture of the country.
This was in a statement issued on Thursday in Accra and signed by the President, in response to a letter written to him by the National Chairman of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, calling for broader stakeholder consultation in the disbandment of political party ‘militia’.
The President wrote: “Since the constitutional responsibility of maintaining law and order in our country is that of the Executive, i.e. the President of the Republic, I have, in line with my pronouncement to Parliament during the Message on the State of the Nation on 21st February, 2019, instructed the Attorney General, without prejudice to the outcome of the engagement, if any, between the NPP and NDC, to prepare and submit to Parliament, as soon as possible, specific legislation to deal with the phenomenon of vigilantism, and provide appropriate sanctions against its occurrence.”
“I believe that the Parliamentary process of enactment affords sufficient space for any citizen to make an input or contribution to the enactment of a good and effective law, whose implementation will enable us rid our nation of politically-related violence, a development that can only inure to the benefit of Ghanaian democracy and the preservation of law and order.”
Mr Ampofo had, in the communication, said that though the NDC was ‘encouraged’ by the President’s desire to achieve a peaceful, constructive environment for politics free from all forms of political violence, there were issues that demanded urgent attention.
He said among them is a documentary that was produced by Manasseh Azure Awuni, a Journalist, alleging that a government sponsored militia group had been training at the former seat of Government, the Castle, Osu.
The Government has since denied the allegations contained in the documentary and has petitioned the National Media Commission (NMC) to investigate the recent video documentary titled ‘Militia in the Heart of the Nation,’ seeking, among other things, an order for the retraction of and an apology to the Government of Ghana on the contents of the said documentary.
President Nana Akufo-Addo had earlier in the month responded to a letter by the NDC, restating his determination to end violence, and assured the NDC that he did not need and had no plans to recruit thugs into the national security apparatus to shore up his chances in the 2020 election as alleged.
“Neither the New Patriotic Party nor I need political party thugs to win the 2020 election.”
He said he saw no basis for a request to have other political entities, the National Peace Council, international bodies as well as a myriad of stakeholders take part in the dialogue between the NPP and NDC to fix a common problem.
The President said the issue of vigilantism was associated with the NDC and the NPP and they alone should find a way to stem the tide of violence in politics.