Deal with lawless elements

BY: Arku Jasmine

Ghana has been spared violent protests like what happened during the Arab Spring and the riots that led to civil wars in some of our neighbouring countries.

Students of history recall the turbulent nature of the independence struggle in many African countries, though in our case it was relatively smooth, with a few limbs and lives lost.

All the same, we have had our share of protests across the country in places such as Bawku, Yendi, Hohoe and Teshie. And just last Monday, Ashaiman, a sprawling municipality near Tema, was rocked by a violent protest by the youth who demanded the rehabilitation of roads in the area.

The country comes up against these conflicts in the wake of its global recognition as the oasis of peace in a sub-region torn apart by civil strife and political disagreements.

As the standard bearer on the continent, Ghana must remain a shining example for those denying their people the opportunity to elect their own representatives.

We can only make a mark in governance and economic development if we respect the drivers that make multi-party democracy achieve its desired goal.

Good governance has no place for lawlessness like the country witnessed at Ashaiman last Monday when, for about four hours, hundreds of rampaging youth held others to ransom and prevented them from carrying out their daily endeavours.

Our Constitution guarantees the right of all to demonstrate but there are procedures for showcasing our disagreements.

The supreme law of the land is moulded along the dictates of all liberal democracies, and it prescribes sanctions for those who breach the norms of society.

We risk descending into the state of nature if a section of society decides to take the law into its own hands. It does not pay to adopt the policy of self-help to seek redress for the concerns we have about goings-on in society.

The Daily Graphic is alarmed at the violent nature of the protest at Ashaiman on Monday on the blind side of the security apparatus.

We do not think it was a spontaneous reaction to the so-called neglect of roads in the municipality because reports said the demonstration started at 5 a.m. when majority of the people were still asleep.

How the protesters managed to overwhelm the security system by spreading their actions onto parts of the Tema Motorway and even mustered the courage to fight the police beat our imagination.

There must have been failure of the nation’s intelligence network by its inability to pick the signals about the planned demonstration in order to nip it in the bud.

The Ashaiman incident comes on the heels of the bloody clash at Teshie in Accra last week and the Daily Graphic calls on the security agencies to step up their action to ensure total compliance with law and order in the country.

The pockets of violence create the impression of the breakdown of law and order, a development that is worrying, and whoever is in charge of security must keep the security of the country and its people under wrap to safeguard the safety of the people.

We are happy that the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly has started work on the rehabilitation of the roads in the municipality. What worries us is that it appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to the protest.

It is difficult to conjecture whether the authorities will be able to contain the bandwagon effects. Let it not be assumed that violent protests will get the authorities to respond to the grievances of the people.

Lawlessness has no place in democratic Ghana and lawless people must not profit from their actions. The ring leaders must, therefore, face the full rigours of the law.

Daily Graphic