I perfectly agree with the Chairwoman/Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Ms. Josephine Nkrumah, that instead of enacting new laws to decisively deal with the menace of vigilante-oriented violence in the country – which, by the way may have caused the death of a police attaché of Jubilee House about a year ago – the laws that are already on the books, as it were, ought to be rigorously enforced through the adequate supply of crime-fighting equipment/gear of the members of the Ghana Police Service (GPS), as well as other non-GPS security and law enforcement agents and agencies (See “No Need for Legislation to Disband Vigilantism – NCCE” Modernghana.com 2/22/19).
As well, I also strongly suggest that detachments of members of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) ought to be put on high-alert standby and ready to move in to complement the work of the personnel of the Ghana Police Service in the process of completely disbanding all party-affiliated vigilante militias in the country. Indeed, it cannot be gainsaid that the specter of vigilantism in the country is synonymous with the flooding of Ghanaian society with too many unlicensed guns and other forms of high-velocity and highly destructive assault weaponry. And so the first step would have to be the sweeping and thorough conduct of a house-to-house search, based on reliable and strategic intelligence, and the summary seizure of all of these weapons, except, of course, where it can be convincingly proved that non-vigilante individuals who have possession of any of these weapons have a legitimate purpose or purposes for the usage of the same. As well, our security agents and agencies ought to ensure that all such deadly weapons have been duly registered with the appropriate law-enforcement authorities.
But, of course, well before a full-scale conduct of a house-to-house search for these weapons begins, an “Amnesty Period” of about a couple of months, in this case perhaps one month would be most appropriate, must be given, whereby the owners of these illegal deadly weapons who voluntarily surrender them to designated police stations and/or military posts, would be allowed to do so without any questions asked and a nominal amount of a reward given, just as it is routinely done in many an advanced and civilized democracy such as the United States and most of the West. After this Amnesty Period, members of law-enforcement agencies, including both the Police and the Army would then aggressively move in, on the basis of reliable intelligence and not only have these munitions seized but also promptly prosecute the owners of these illegal weapons.
A weapons registration regime also needs to be promptly implemented, if one does not already exist in our law books, whereby resident immigrants and migrants who are not bona fide or indigenous Ghanaian citizens may not be allowed to own or possess any deadly weapons in the country, except under certain special circumstances, such as the provable need of the use of such deadly weaponry for the protection of legitimately registered business enterprises. To be certain, it was an egregious blunder for the speechwriters of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to have so casually presumed to call for a meeting between the leaders of the country’s two major political parties, namely, the leaders of the ruling New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress, in a bid to resolving the chronic and perennial and rampant and deadly incidents of vigilantism which, by the way, former President John Dramani Mahama, the newly nominated candidate for the National Democratic Congress for Election 2020, has categorically and publicly stated, in his infamous “Boot-for-Boot” National-Security Declaration, constituted the very lifeblood of the “revolutionary” operatives of the National Democratic Congress.
She did not exactly or directly say this, at least going by the news reports, but it well appears that the Chairwoman of the National Commission for Civic Education appreciates the best and most decisive approach to effectively tackling the vigilante menace than the speechwriters of President Akufo-Addo. It is about time that we put our policemen and women at the forefront of their traditional institutional role and function in Ghanaian society in ways that have not been done either before or in a very long time. On the foregoing count, we need to bear in mind the fact that it was the political and institutional antecedent of the National Democratic Congress, to wit, the Jerry John Rawlings-founded and chaperoned erstwhile Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), that historically introduced government- and party-sponsored vigilantism, such as the erstwhile People’s Defense Committees (PDCs), that effectively displaced the statutory function and role of the membership of the Ghana Police Service, thereby effectively rendering the latter functionally superfluous in Ghanaian society.
Indeed, contrary to what former President John Dramani Mahama and Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia would have the Ghanaian youths of today believe, it was under the watch of the Chairman Rawlings-led junta of the PNDC that it became commonplace to witness a Ghanaian soldier routinely and cavalierly trounce or beat up a policeman in our streets like an elementary school pupil. Which is why one can only pity former President Mahama, the veritable Paramount Chief of Mendacious Ghanaian Politicians and Scam-Artists, when he shamelessly alleges that it was Nana Akufo-Addo who fathered vigilantism in Ghanaian society. This is the payola-prone political scam-artist who would have Ghanaian voters nonconsecutively return him to Jubilee House. What chutzpah!
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD