Opinions of Sat, 8 Sep 20183

Samson’s Take: Party vigilante? Soon Ghana Police will have no job

Early 2017, I wrote condemning key NPP leaders for shamefully endorsing criminal acts of its criminal groups. I called for urgent and sustained action. But don’t we seem to go to sleep too quickly when the NPP or its related and connected parties are the wrongdoers?

Little may have been heard of the Invisible and Delta forces in a while, but that’s not because of state action. It is no secret that some of their members got the jobs they sought by their thuggery in chasing out appointees and others officers of state.

That year, when an NGO got Dr. Kwesi Aning and I to speak to the subject of vigilantism in the university in Tamale, I was forced to read a bit more on it. The NDC has just outdoored more of such criminal groups and we have reason to revisit the matter.

Like the NPP, the NDC has no shame in publicly endorsing and defending what its General Secretary knows to be the Hawks, Dragons and Lions. He is even confident to justify their formation and condemn the NCCE for decrying the conduct. In opposition, the politician does not trust state security for protection. So, the NDC insists it won’t do anything about these groups until the NPP has disbanded its own and it has the fullest assurance the Police will be consummately professional and effective in its job.

Fact, these groups are eventually integrated into state security and that is the promise on which they work for these political parties.

Why must a police service that is cowered into feeling helpless in this situation for fear of victimization by the politician breeding this danger to society deserve their jobs? The law establishing the police service empowers it to be the only body to register and regulate private security organisations. A legislative instrument was also passed to ensure proper regulation of private security organisations. These dangerous party groups, are they so registered as private security, and what has become of the clear sanctions in the law?

We certainly remember the decisive swift action taken against ex-South African cops brought into Ghana by the NPP to train whatever personnel the party claimed in 2016. The police and interior ministry should not be capable of doing right by us only when a governing party has political capital in the enforcement of law.

The complete lack of action encouraged the nation-embarrassing criminal acts including the assault on non indigenous business persons in the name of citizen-enforcement of local laws against retail trading by foreigners. I attend a meeting in Brussels as a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW Network) of the Solidarity Centre under the ITUC/ETUC, and I am thinking how to present Ghana in the wake of such embarrassing unlawful treatment of foreign nationals working in the country.

You may have heard me say what they are engaged in is hooliganism, not vigilantism! Hooliganism is violent, rowdy or destructive behavior by young troublemakers, typically in a gang. Their actions border on criminal trespass, assault, damage to property and against public order. A vigilante is a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.

I repeat myself. I have one simple proposal as part of my contribution for getting rid of these hooligans, and I dare party and government officials to adopt the approach if they are sincere about their claims of abhorrence for the clear present and future danger they promote against citizens in the long run.

I am a lawyer. I lose my license to practice or my name is erased completely from the roll of lawyers when I misconduct myself or get convicted of a crime bordering on dishonesty. The NDC and NPP have suspended or sacked members including very important members for acts they claim brought the name of the party into disrepute.

In most of the cases, these members only spoke or condemned some ill or revealed a dirty secret; they did not engage in the shameful criminal acts of hooliganism and vandalism. Discipline these lawless members by yourselves and see if you will not embolden police and other relevant state actors to strictly enforce the law when they misbehave.

Dear Patriotic Citizen, the politicians have demonstrated over the years that they cannot be trusted to nib this dangerously ugly sub-culture in the bud unless we insist by various means including oughtright united condemnations, petitions, lawful demonstrations and by making this issue one to determine how we vote.

Samson Lardy ANYENINI

September 8, 2018

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