By News Desk with files from citinewsroom
Inspector General of Police (IGP), David Asante-Apeatu has charged political parties to disband their vigilante groups which are creating problems in the country.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday the IGP did not give the political parties timelines to disband the vigilante groups but urged them “to immediately denounced their own vigilante groups to create the necessary awareness that will embolden the police.”
Mr. Apeatu explained that just a security approach to vigilantism might not be adequate.
“The truth is that if we prescribe a security solution to a politically motivated problem, you may only be reducing the pain but not curing the disease.”
Public concern over political vigilantism has been growing over the past few years with some high profile incidents from groups affiliated to the governing NPP.
Most of these groups are aligned either to the New Patriotic Party or the National Democratic Congress.
Critics of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have questioned the party’s commitment in dealing with vigilante groups after incidents ranging from raids of police stations, courts and regional security councils occurred under their government.
There have been over 20 high profile incidents of political action with no significant arrests or prosecutions.
In November 2017, the government set up a task-force to investigate some of the vigilante disturbances after public uproar.
Mr. Apeatu said the public support would spur the police on to take some new action against the vigilante groups.
“The collective condemnation [of vigilantism] has given police some impetus to know that the police to begin to think afresh knowing that the public will stand with police in enforcing the law without fear or favour.”
“The police are poised to arrest and profile any group of people claiming to be vigilante groups irrespective of their political affiliation… death in the name of politics will no longer be tolerated in our security setting. We are declaring zero tolerance against political violence and vigilantism.”
Escalation ahead of election 2020
Warnings from within the police service indicate that there are concerns the vigilantism will escalate ahead of election 2020.
The Director General of the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards Bureau (PIPS), COP Nathan Kofi Boakye said at the 2019 New Year School: “If political thuggery is not stopped now, from 2020 there will be an explosion …As at yesterday, there was the formation of Eastern Mambas and because of the entrepreneurship related to vigilantism, by 2020 you will hear about Ivor Flakes, Kwesi Anning Tigers because now people are going to form groups for hire.”
There are also concerns that the vigilante groups are being infiltrated by more radical groups.
“I must tell you that these vigilantes have no loyalty to any of the parties…When I see some of these vigilante groups, I cringe because I know them personally. The Police administration from time immemorial has been poised to fight any crime. What we are seeing now is the political thuggery within the parties.”
Speaking at the same event, Security Analyst, Dr. Kwesi Aning, expressed similar concerns.
“Increasingly, we are seeing infiltration by more radicalized groups and more dangerous groups and we are going to see a transformation of these groups increasingly tamed against first those who established them, and eventually against the state of Ghana. This is not an Ananse story. We have seen it in Sierra Leone, we saw it in Liberia, we saw it in La Cote D’Ivoire and the Ivorian one will re-emerge.”