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PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO MUST STOP THE EMPTY RHETORIC ON POLITICAL HOOLIGANISM AND ACT DECISIVELY NOW
The National Democratic Congress has taken note of the call by President Akufo-Addo on the leadership of the NDC and the NPP to meet and discuss ways to voluntarily disband the activities of political party vigilante groups. We find it gratifying that at long last, President Akufo-Addo has openly acknowledged that the existence and activities of private and political militia groups poses serious threats to the security of this country.
While we admit the fact that some individual members of the NDC are behind the formation and operation of private vigilante groups, the NDC as a corporate entity does not own, sponsor or subscribe to any political vigilante group. Indeed, the NDC does not believe in political violence, and has always relied on the Ghana Police Service for security, both in government and out of government.
We wish to underscore the point that it was rather the New Patriotic Party (NPP) whilst in opposition and led by Candidate Akufo-Addo – the current President of Ghana, which made an open declaration that it did not have confidence in the security services. Pursuant to this declaration, the NPP championed the formation of political vigilante groups across the ten (10) regions of Ghana. At all times, the leadership of the NPP have acknowledged these groups as part of their party structure, and have even gone to great lengths of bringing mercenaries from South Africa and Serbia to offer special training in weapon handling, combat, terror operations and the manufacture of security uniforms for these groups. Ghanaians may recall that the then NDC government had to arrest and repatriate three (3) of these mercenaries in March 2016. These events are still very fresh in the minds of Ghanaians.
Not long after the NPP assumed the reigns of government in 2017, it would be recalled how these violent groups created and nurtured by the NPP in opposition, began to unleash a series of virulent and lethal attacks on innocent citizens and institutions of state. We recall how DSP Nanka Bruce, a Senior Police officer, was brutally assaulted at the Flagstaff House, the seat of government. Similarly, attacks on the Regional Security Liaison Officer and an assault on a court of competent jurisdiction, both in Kumasi, attacks on the Tamale Teaching Hospital and a police station in Karaga, and unprovoked attacks on Contractors working on the UNDP Flats, are but a few of the uncountable attacks undertaken by these groups whilst state security agencies looked on helplessly. These marauding groups could be found in almost all the regions in Ghana, bearing names such as Invisible Forces, Delta Forces, Kandahar Boys, Bolgatanga Bull Dogs, Volta Crocodiles, among others.
Following this worrying trend, calls were rife on government to disband its vigilante groups including calls from prominent Ghanaian personalities like the Asantehene, Otumfour Osei Tutu II. However, instead of disbanding these violent groups, the National Security Minister rather assured their members of getting recruited into the National Security. A public appearance by some of these political thugs in Tema in 2017, where they further reechoed their demand to be recruited into state security agencies, seems to have driven the integration of these party thugs into mainstream state security (National Security). Thus, the Akufo-Addo government has institutionalized political hooliganism and violence by incorporating thugs with criminal backgrounds belonging to NPP militia groups into the National Security setup of Ghana.
Indeed, this fact was corroborated by the Minister of National Security, Honorable Kan Dapaah when he appeared before the Short Commission a few days ago. The state-sponsored terrorism unleashed by NPP thugs on innocent civilians under the guise of National Security at the just ended Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election reinforces this fact.
What is equally sad is that, at a time when there is hue and cry about the growing culture of political thuggery and hooliganism in the country, the Akufo-Addo government is secretly embarking on a new project of recruiting and training NPP thugs for the purposes of the 2020 General Elections. A recent investigation by Joy FM uncovered official correspondence from the Upper West Regional Security Liaison Officer to various NPP Consituency Chairmen to aid in the recruitment of able-bodied NPP thugs to be trained at the expense of the taxpayer. These revelations, coupled with the sad events of Ayawaso West Wuogon, clearly betray the lack of candor in the President’s call.
The NDC wishes to place on record that it was these countless acts of gross impunity, and the corresponding state inertia, which encouraged individual members of the party to constitute security groups in defence of their lives. Even though the NDC has not recognized these groups as part of its structure, the party has not insisted on their immediate disbandment. This is due to the unwillingness of President Akufo-Addo and the ruling NPP to disband their state-sponsored militia groups and the inertia of the Ghana Police Service to clamp down on the nefarious activities of these groups against NDC members.
Notwithstanding the above position, the NDC is willing and ready to direct its members to desist from constituting security groups on the following conditions:
1. That the Akufo-Addo government takes immediate steps to disband and disarm the illegal Armed Force being maintained by the National Security Council, which is chaired by no less a person than the President of the Republic of Ghana. Government must take deliberate steps to purge all security agencies of these NPP thugs and hoodlums.
2. That the Akufo-Addo Government immediately abandons its nefarious plans, and rather instruct all its agents in the Regions to halt the State-sanctioned recruitment of political party thugs for the purpose of the 2020 general election.
3. That in addition, Government and the NPP publicly denounces and disbands, not just in word but also in deed, all their vigilante groups and political militias.
We wish to add that government must take steps to bring to justice all the criminal elements, captured on a plethora of videos and pictures meting out disgusting atrocities to innocent civilians during the recent Ayawso West Wuogon by-election.
Additionally, we wish to reiterate our call on the Ashanti Regional Police Command to quickly apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of the NDC Ashanti Regional Office shooting incident which happened few days ago. We maintain that the said incident is purely criminal and must be treated as such.
It is the view of the NDC that, beyond his usual smoke and mirrors rhetorics, the President and his party, the NPP, must show a genuine and unwavering political will to undertake the above.
Even though we welcome the President’s call on us to meet with the NPP to discuss this matter, we do not believe that the phenomenon of political vigilantes, or better still militias, will be solved by dabbling in flowery verbiage. We believe firmly that the existing laws of this country are adequate in dealing with the menace of political hooliganism. What is needed is a genuine political will backed by corresponding actions. President Akufo-Addo must therefore stop the empty rhetoric and act now.
COMRADE JOHNSON ASIEDU NKETIA
(GENERAL SECRETARY, NDC)