A look at Vigilantism in Ghana

Vigilantism, especially political vigilantism, poses a serious security threat to Ghana’s peace. Vigilantism is often associated with violence.

It is now obvious that Ghana could be sitting on a time bomb. Many are worried that if vigilantism goes unchecked, the 2020 national elections could see the country thrown into a state of violence as has been witnessed in some African countries in recent years.

Too much lawlessness in Ghana

One great worry about vigilantism is the lawlessness that goes with it.

Indeed, lawlessness seems to be taking over in the country. This needs to be seriously addressed. Certain priorities need to be given more attention.

Lawlessness could breed serious instability in the country, which should be a bother to all. If we are not careful, the 2020 elections could woefully become chaotic and bloody. All lives matter, wai!!

The President on security

After President Nana Akufo-Addo’s State of the Nation (SONA) address a few weeks ago, I did a small survey among Ghanaian immigrants in Finland to know their views about it.

Many were happy that security was one of the key things the President focused on in his address. Similar views were expressed by other Ghanaians in Ghana and elsewhere.

In the SONA address, President Akufo-Addo made a call to the leadership of the two major political parties in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to agree on appropriate measures to end the worrying trend of party vigilantism in the country.

Yet, in the face of this support is a strong opinion that there should be a much more drastic approach than merely engaging in dialogues looking for a solution to end vigilantism in Ghana. To many people, the President should be bold enough to ban vigilantism.

Security requires laws

A strong opinion is that it is not the time to engage people in dialogues of goodwill. We need to have strict laws; we should control acts of vigilantism with a law that bans it.

Political party thugs and their violent acts need to be checked and if the political parties are not able to check their vigilante groups, then the best solution would be to ban all vigilante groups by law.

Dialogues are necessary

The call for dialogues is still important. I couldn’t agree more with the Chairman of the National Peace Council, Rev Professor Emmanuel Asante that politics should not create systems and structures that have the potential of destroying the peace and harmony that Ghanaians have.

I agree that it is imperative for both the NDC and NPP parties to come to a perfect understanding in the discussion for ending vigilantism.

However, I do not agree that the two parties alone should be in dialogue at the preparatory stage before involving other stakeholders.

There have already been dialogues seeking to deepen the conversation of finding a lasting solution. Let’s continue with such dialogues and even broaden the scope of the stakeholders involved.

Broadening the key stakeholders

The recent dialogues involved stakeholders such as political parties, the religious bodies, the Police Service and other civil society organisations (CSOs), the media and governance institutions.

In any effort for further dialogues, I would support the inclusion of the United Nations (UN) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Also, we should not avoid traditional rulers (chiefs and queen-mothers). Traditionally, they are the custodians of their communities and an important group when it comes to ensuring sanity and good behaviour of their subjects, at least in the communities. They can be part of the key stakeholders in any efforts for ending vigilantism and ensuring peace.

I would not even rule out other traditionalists such as fetish priests and priestesses. Do you know how many people ‘secretly’ visit these practitioners or adhere to their advice based on what they claim to be their clairvoyance?

Law-abiding citizens

All in all, we cannot do much if we do not respect laws. If we are not law-abiding, then our efforts at ending vigilantism would not be fruitful and we will continue to have problems with our peace and stability.

We cannot talk about bringing about sanity and peace in our country when we are rotten inside with lawlessness, violence and total disregard for others.

Let’s be law-abiding citizens and have respect for each other. Let’s make vigilantism rather unattractive. Period!

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