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Opinions Fri, 14 Feb 2020

On Peace Council’s code of conduct: Is NDC willing to end militant vigilantism?

It was not the least surprising to some of us when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) recently failed to sign the all-important vigilantism code of conduct presented by the National Peace Council (see: NDC refuses to sign vigilantism code of conduct; ghanaweb.com, 04/02/2020).

If you would recall, following the unfortunate incident at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on 31st January 2019, President Akufo-Addo appointed the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry to probe the incident.

The Emile Short’s Commission of Inquiry terms of reference were as follow:

(a) 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 the 31st day of January 2019-

(b) To identify any person responsible for or who has been involved in the events, associated violence and injuries-

(c) 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-

(d) To submit within one month its report to the President giving reasons for its findings and recommendations, including appropriate sanctions, if any.

Interestingly, before the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry could finalise its report on the incident, the two main political parties, NPP and NDC, reached a consensus to convene under the aegis of the National Peace Council and find ways of ending the militant vigilantism in Ghanaian politics.

More importantly, while the two political parties were deliberating on how to disband the militant vigilantism, President Akufo-Addo drafted and presented a vigilantism bill to the Parliament.

The bill was subsequently passed into an Act somewhere last year.

If you may recall, whilst the Emile Short Commission’s work was blissfully underway, a revoltingly lurid audiotape was making rounds, purported to have emanated from the opposition NDC’s meeting.

In fact, the squeamishly ugly nature of the said leaked audiotape prompted the well-meaning Ghanaians to suggest that the protagonist in the said leaked audiotape cannot walk about without answering questions on the insecurity in the country.

In the said leaked tape, observers could hear the suspect, clearly in a joyous mood, gleefully articulating his intentions to make the country ungovernable by executing his fiendish scheme to cause mayhem in the country by kidnapping the perceived opponents and their family members.

One could also hear clearly how the suspect telling the audience, believed to be executives of the party, to attack the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Jean Mensa, and insult the Peace Council Chairman, Professor Emmanuel Asante.

Shockingly, in some places of the leaked audiotape, one could hear the suspect narrating how people were deployed to the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency during the by-election on 31st January 2019.

Apparently, former President Mahama was not cracking a hilarious joke when he poured his heart out somewhere last year that the National Democratic Congress has a revolutionary root, and, when it comes to unleashing extreme violence, no one can beat them.

I have stressed severally that some of us regrettably witnessed the revoltingly ugly events which took place over a period of three decades (1970-1990s), and therefore cannot be hoodwinked by the inveterate propagandists to believing that political violence is not synonymous with NDC.

Unfortunately, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was formed on the ideals of militant vigilantism, and therefore it is extremely nauseating and somewhat baffling to hear the baseless claims from the NDC quarters that the party is not synonymous with vigilantism.

The story is told, though vividly, that in their desperate attempts to defend their illegitimate power and lay the foundation for a supposedly true democracy in Ghana, the founders of the NDC officially set up paramilitary organs such as the People’s Defence Committee (PDC), the Civil Defence Organisation (CDO), which was popularly known as the Militia and the Workers Defence Committee (WDC), where the last two organs were later reorganised and renamed as the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR), whose collective mandate was to defend the revolution by hook or by crook.

The CDRs were established in villages, urban communities, and workplaces and intended to be the organs of popular power and political initiative.

In addition, Forces' Defence Committees were established in the armed forces and the police service.

The June Four Movement was a militant mass revolutionary movement dedicated to keeping alive the ideals of the June 4 1979 uprising that Rawlings had led. It sought to arouse the population at large to assist in establishing so-called people's power within the avowed objectives of the revolutionary process.

“The PDCs and the WDCs (Workers Defence Committees) had their own courts and "meted out justice according to no established legal procedures” [Amnesty International, 1983).

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the PNDC's political opposition back then vehemently contested the democratic nature of such organs and saw them as nothing but state-sponsored vigilantes engaged in intimidation and human rights abuses (Source: U.S. Library of Congress).

It is against such background that some of us were extremely surprised to hear former President Mahama on radio on Friday 22nd February 2019 blissfully referring to President Akufo-Addo as the father of the militant vigilantism in contemporary Ghanaian politics.

Interestingly, President Akufo-Addo’s prudent and somewhat benign directive during the last year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA)to the respective owners of the ‘militant groups’ to come together and disband such groups necessitated the needless outburst from the former president.

Somehow, the squeamishly lurid leaked audiotape purported to have emanated from the opposition NDC’s meeting has given credence to the critics claim that the NDC faithful aren’t ready to do away with political violence.

Astonishingly, while President Akufo-Addo was urging the owners of the vigilante groups to disband such organisations, the loyalists of the National Democratic Congress were allegedly planning to unleash violence on the innocent Ghanaians.

In the said leaked tape, the protagonist can be heard vividly detailing his fiendish scheme to kidnap the perceived opponents and telling the audience, believed to be executives of the party to attack the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa and insult the Peace Council Chairman, Professor Emmanuel Asante.

Subsequently, the 2020 flagbearer and the former president of Ghana, John Mahama, tried desperately to explained that the Chairman of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo did not ask the communicators to beat the chairman of the National Peace Council, Prof Emmanuel Asante, but he rather urged them to criticise him for blatantly refusing to condemn the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence while demanding an apology over the “boot-for-boot” comment.

Dearest reader, how on earth would a supposedly responsible opposition persistently organise secret meetings with the view to making the country ungovernable?

It would, therefore, appear that violence is the National Democratic Congress’s (NDC) available political tool.

In fact, the leaked audiotape shows how some partisan creatures can conceive and deliver a fiendish plot with the view to winning electoral advantage over their opponents.

How unpatriotic, how cruel, how malevolent, and how pathetic some heartless creatures who rather preferred to be called politicians can be?

Well, the crucial question discerning Ghanaians should be asking is: can NDC really do away with political violence?

Let us face it, though, the sceptics hit the nail on the head for suggesting some time ago that the insecurity in the country is scheming guile being orchestrated by some conspiratorial plotters to make the incumbent NPP government look bad in the eyes of the voting public.

To be quite honest, some of us were extremely concerned about the spate of vicious and calculated armed robbery attacks on innocent citizens and denizens a few months into the NPP administration.

It was against such backdrop that some of us shared in President Rawlings sentiments that the deadly armed robbery attacks in the country could well be the work of unpatriotic partisan creatures motivated from either within or without to undermine the nation’s security; (See: I hope robberies are not politically motivated-Rawlings; starrfmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 01/03/2018).

Ex-President Rawlings was reported to have expressed grave concern over the insecurity and wrote on his Twitter page: “Let us hope the recent robbery and killings is downright plain robbery and not a politically motivated action from within or without, calculated to undermine those in charge of the security machinery in order to pave the way for certain parochial ambitions.”

Back then, given the ugly nature of African politics, some of us could not help but to echo former President Rawlings’s sentiments of a probable conspiratorial plot to undermine the country’s security and the NPP government as a whole.

Rightly so, former President Rawlings smelled foul play when some people were hopping from one Radio/Television station to another nagging, shrieking and grouching over the serious national disaster such as the bloody armed robbery attacks without proffering any practicable solutions.

Dearest reader, how on earth would a supposedly responsible opposition persistently organise meetings with the view to inciting the public against the incumbent government?

In as much as some of us do not want to succumb to the widely held assertion that politics, in general, is a dirty game, it would not be farfetched for drawing an inference that the political terrain is full of manipulating geezers who will do anything possible to win political advantage.

We should, however, not lose sight of the fact that political opportunists are not limited to Africa; it is rather a global phenomenon. However, in my humble opinion, it is our part of the world (Africa), where political gimmicks and extreme vindictiveness are widespread.

Perhaps more than anything else, this is so because we have greater number of unlettered folks, many of whom cannot choose between unrepentant tricksters and morally upstanding politicians.

Like former President Rawlings, some of us have been harbouring a gleam of suspicion on our mind over the evil hands of the faceless partisan creatures in the insecurity in the country.

Dearest reader, the NDC’s leaked horrible audiotape shows how some partisan creatures can conceive and deliver a fiendish plot with the view to winning electoral advantage over their opponents.

In the grand scheme of things, we cannot stand accused of harbouring risible and inborn proclivity for asserting that the loyalists of the National Democratic Congress do not have the will and the commitment to do away with their political tool.

K. Badu, UK.

k.badu2011@gmail.com

Columnist: Kwaku Badu