Zongo Dev’t Fund holds peace building conference for Chiefs, Imams

ZONGO Chiefs, Imams and youth leaders have pledged to collaborate with the police to prevent violence and fight crime in their respective communities.

They noted that it was only through community involvement that violent clashes between groups and other related crimes could be averted.

They made the pledge at a capacity building conference on conflict prevention and management for Chiefs, Imams, women and youth leaders organised by the Zongo Development Fund (ZoDF) in Accra last Thursday.

It was on the theme: “Peace and Security in Zongo Communities – Changing the Narrative”.

The conference comes on the back of simmering tension in some Zongo communities across the country over leadership.

Topics discussed at the conference were “Peace Building and Management”, “Crime Prevention and Community Involvement”, “Violence in Zongo Communities -Stereotyping or Reality? Implications thereof”, and “Islamic Perspective of Peace Building”.

The Chiefs, women and youth leaders noted that some of the crimes were being perpetrated by outsiders, hence the need for a concerted effort to expose the criminals.

They expressed worry that the image of Zongos was being tarnished because of the violent activities of the youth.

In a keynote address read on his behalf by the Coordinator of the Zongo and Inner-City Development Secretariat, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said while the primary responsibility of the government was peacebuilding and sustaining peace, chiefs, Imams, magajiyas (queenmothers) and youth leaders were also required to do more to build peaceful and resilient societies.

He said many countries were witnessing more violent conflicts now more than ever.

“Records show numbers of civilians are being killed or injured by explosives. Numbers of people are on the move displaced by violence, war and persecution.

“Horrific violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, rising nationalism and xenophobia are prevalent”, he said.

Therefore, Dr Bawumia said, any violent tendencies in Zongos, inner cities and other communities needed to be discouraged. 

Dr Bawumia affirmed the government’s resolve towards executing projects to improve the socio-economic conditions of people.

In his address, the Chief Executive Officer of Zongo Development Fund (ZoDF), Obrempong Dr Arafat Sulemana Abdulai, said the Fund attached a great importance to the issue of security in Zongos.

For instance, he said, the ZoDF had installed thousands of streetlights in Zongo communities to improve visibility and ward off criminals.

Dr Arafat said the peace building conference was also an attempt to mobilise the stakeholders in Zongos to maintain peace and fight crime.

He said aside the numerous projects executed by ZoDF in Zongo communities, it had given the people of Zongo “a sense of identity.”

For his part, the Accra Regional Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Iddi Lansah Seidu, expressed worry at the increase trade and consumption of narcotic substances and gambling in Zongos.

He said the Holy Qur’an had spoken against intake of narcotic substances and gambling, hence the need for Muslim leaders to support efforts at fighting the canker in their respective localities.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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