Vigilante scourge — A threat

BY: Colin Essamuah
Mr Freddie Blay
Mr Freddie Blay

‘Public opinion is a compound of folly, weakness, prejudice, wrong feeling, right feeling, obstinacy and newspaper paragraphs.’

— Robert Peel, former British Prime Minister

Way back in say, the middle of 2015, just a year to the general election which resulted in the victory of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), any person who dared question the existence and activities of the Invincible and Delta forces as a clear and present danger to national peace and security would have been met with the stock reply from the then opposition NPP that the party set up those groups to protect its members because the NPP, then in opposition, did not trust the police to guarantee the safety and peace of its members. The reason for this is that our police were being controlled by the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and, ipso facto, cannot, and will not be fair to members of the NPP.

This fantastic explanation outrightly debunked the self-acclaimed historic credentials of the party as the party of the rule of law, since it was claimed in the same breath by sympathetic civil society spokespersons that the police were and must be a neutral institution for the protection of all irrespective of which party controlled the executive, and therefore by extension, our police too. This explanation, therefore, did not satisfy our curiosity as to the reason for the recurring acts of violence between factions of the same party as characterised by regular blood-curdling events at NPP headquarters at Asylum Down here in Accra.

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I have already in an earlier epistle described Chairman Blay’s defection from the CPP as normal and cited several leaders in this country who have done so and risen to the heights. The most obvious examples being President Kwame Nkrumah from the United Gold Coast Convention to found the CPP. Be it as it may the opposition NPP won the polls emphatically in the 2016 election and assumed leadership of the state and it institutions, including the police.

It was therefore with a sense of surprise that last Tuesday, the chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Madam Josephine Nkrumah, had cause to hold a rare press conference to appeal to the ruling party to rein in its so-called party police that we mistakenly call party vigilantes and the police too to arrest and prosecute members of the Delta Force in Kumasi who had disrupted an NPP party meeting in the Tafo-Pankrono Constituency in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region, and indisputably, the heartbeat of the ruling party. The seriousness of this intraparty incident or violence was that the Member of Parliament for the area, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, advised himself to leave the scene before it degenerated into the unthinkable.

It is clear from these scary developments that these party police have effectively degenerated into the SS, SA and the Gestapo of Nazi Germany sowing fear and terror firstly among NPP members and the general public at large. For a party which supposedly is the historic champion of the rule of law in Ghanaian politics, we have really come a long way indeed and Ghanaians should be wary and afraid of current developments on the personal security fronts of their harassed lives and existence. If my memory serves me right, Charlotte Osei as previous head of the NCCE, never held a press encounter with this as the subject, implying that the standard of public safety was far higher then than now. We progress, not retrogress, in nation-building.

I have hinted that the name we give these stormtroopers as vigilantes is terribly inaccurate and an Orwellian play on words for political convenience. A vigilante is simply a person who is not a police officer who tries to catch and punish criminals. Significantly, the word gained political currency in the period of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (1973), and continued in that of the Provisional National Defence Council (1981 to 1993), both military regimes which had no reason to observe the notions of the rule of law because their existence as governments itself was a standing violation of the rule of law. It is therefore puzzling and sad that a civilian party founded under constitutional rule, and led so far by a distinguished professor, and two able lawyers trained in the traditions of the law will entertain such an obvious violation of the traditions which had sustained the party from of old to today.

For years since 2009, in fact, anytime political violence of this nature is decried, the NPP points to the existence of the Azorka Boys with NDC allegiance as a counterweight to the Invincible and Delta forces. We need and deserve and demand domestic and social peace. The first job of any government is the preservation of peace and stability in the country, without which our lives would be brutish and short.

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