Vigilante group members cannot be arrested – Bryan Acheampong
The Minister of State in charge of National Security, Bryan Acheampong says although he is aware of the illegal activities of vigilante groups in the country, there is little his Ministry can do about it.
Speaking Thursday at the Commission of Enquiry investigating the violence that took place during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, Mr Acheampong explained that the manner in which these groups are formed, makes it impossible to effect an arrest.
“It is difficult today to go out to Osu and say I am going to arrest a vigilante. It is difficult to go to New Town, Achimota Trassaco and say I am going to arrest a vigilante.
“That is not how they are organised. If there is a political party activity, an event or operation, then they come together and execute that operation,” he clarified.
Mr Acheampong who is also MP for Abetifi in the Eastern Region, has come under stern criticism following the violence at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 31.
His men – National Security Officials – in Police SWAT vehicles, dressed in black t-shirts with khaki trousers and wearing masks, stormed the La Bawaleshie electoral area on the by-election day in what has been described as an operation to recover weapons from the NDC’s parliamentary candidate’s property.
The men have been accused of fomenting the violence that characterised the elections and assaulting Ningo Prampram MP, Samuel George.
Following the incident, the opposition NDC accused the government of unleashing members of their vigilante groups on them.
National Security Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah, has denied the team that was deployed to the area were made up of members of vigilante groups.
He also denied assertions that the NPP or any political party owned a vigilante group.
In a response to the Commission’s lawyer, Eric Osei Mensah on what his Ministry is doing about vigilante groups in the country, Mr Acheampong said although their activities are illegal, there is not much that can be done about them.
He said all that can be done is to continue to warn against their activities, “and when you are caught, you will be prosecuted.
The MP said his office played a key role in the arrest, prosecution and sentencing of members of the Delta Force who attacked an NPP official last year.
He is certain that “If there are stiffer punishments, people will not rise to the call to go and perform some of these activities. Extensive steps are being taken.”
He added that the Ministry of National Security is working strenuously to ensure that the activities of these illegal groups are not encouraged in the country.