The National Peace Council (NPC) has called on political parties to strictly adhere to the roadmap adopted to help eradicate political vigilantism from the country.
A member of the Governing Board of the NPC, Apostle Kwadwo Opoku Onyinah, advised political parties that were still engaging the services of vigilantes to disband them before the December 7 elections.
"We use this opportunity to call on political parties which are still harbouring any vigilante groups or their remnants after the ban through the passage of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999) to take immediate steps to complete the disbandment process before the December 2020 general election,” he said.
Apostle Onyinah made the call at a workshop organised to increase the campaign on the eradication of political vigilantism from Ghana at Amasaman in the Greater Accra Region yesterday.
The workshop, which was organised by the NPC, was funded by the Danish Embassy and brought together stakeholders in the electoral process, including officials from the Electoral Commission (EC), the political parties, and the security agencies.
Apostle Onyinah said although the NPC was aware of the preparations by key stakeholders, including the EC, the political parties, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), civil society organisations (CSOs), and the security institutions, towards peaceful elections, there was the need to totally eradicate vigilantism from the political process.
Apostle Kwadwo Opoku Onyinah (left), a member of the Governing Board of the NPC, interacting with Mr. Clement Wilkonson (right), Municipal Chief Executive for Ga West, and Mr. George Amoh (middle), Executive Secretary of the NPC, after the opening session of the workshop. Picture: EMMANUEL QUAYE
He said it was germane for all stakeholders with competing ideas to engage in open discourse and express their opinions that shape the process towards "achieving the results that we all desire".
For instance, he said, the political parties must always express their opinions on national issues with decorum, provide practical solutions for the many challenges that confronted the country, and respect one another in their deeds and utterances to ensure the preservation of Ghana’s peace.
The roadmap to eradicating political vigilantism sets out the norms and principles to guide the elimination of politically related violence or vigilantism.
The document is a comprehensive outline of the goals and overall objectives of all relevant stakeholders, especially the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), in the elimination of political vigilantism.
It also reflects the strategic thinking of stakeholders concerning how to achieve the goals.
For instance, at the outset of Phase One of the roadmap, "the parties shall reject all forms of violence as a mode of political expression".
In that regard, the leaders of the NDC and the NPP are expected to take the necessary steps to ensure that their members refrain from vigilante activities.
The parties are also expected to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies, especially by way of refraining from protecting their members who violate the laws governing vigilantism.
They are also expected to affirm their commitment to the code of conduct on political vigilantism and sign the code during a public function organised by the NPC, with the media in attendance, and continuously sensitise their members to and educate them on the dangers of vigilantism.
For her part, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the NCCE, Mrs. Lucille Hewlett Annan, encouraged political parties to stay committed to their own resolution and ensure that the roadmap was fully utilised to ensure peace during the December 7 elections.
She recalled the fact that all vigilante groups had been banned and so they could not operate under the laws of the country.
Consequently, she said the parties must ensure that vigilantism was not associated with their activities, as that was punishable by law, attracting not less than 10 years and not more than 15 years’ imprisonment when found guilty.
"We are here to educate you on the Vigilantism and other Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999). It is the mandate of the commission to educate everyone on his or her rights and responsibilities and, therefore, bringing the contents of the Vigilantism Act to you is required of us," she said.
She said it was important to keep educating the public on Act 999 and the roadmap to increase awareness among the public of the dangers of engaging in vigilantism.
“In as much as we want to support one another along the way, other miscreants would also want to capitalise on the down sides of the pandemic to recruit people to engage in violent attacks on political opponents and innocent people,” Mrs. Annan said.