The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr David Asante-Apeatu, has urged Ghanaians to unite against vigilantism, saying all voices must speak against the phenomenon.
“Vigilantism is not just a security problem; it has political connotations, with social consequences, and we all need to be honest in assessing the creation, usage and dangers of vigilante groups in our national discourse,” he stated.
In an interview on a wide range of security issues in Accra yesterday, Mr Asante-Apeatu also urged political parties with such groups to take immediate steps to disband them.
He said in a number of cases that had been reported to the police or where the police took action to deal with and investigate such cases, witnesses failed to show up to support evidence for prosecution.
That, he explained, was because the vigilante groups saw themselves more as an intra-party “thing”.
Mr Asante-Apeatu cited the case at Tafo in the Ashanti Region in October last year when, during a meeting between the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto-Osei, and some party executives, a group disrupted the meeting and vandalised the venue.
Reports said the group wanted to physically assault Dr Akoto-Osei over election promises before the 2016 general election that had not been fulfilled.
Following that incident, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) came out to condemn the action and similar actions by vigilante groups.
In its condemnation, the NCCE described the activities of vigilante groups as a serious threat to Ghana’s peace and security.
Expatiating on his call for vigilante groups to be disbanded, the IGP said the law recognised the state security agencies and private security organisations to provide protection for individuals, institutions and facilities.
He said anyone or group, including political parties, could seek assistance from the relevant agencies.
He, however, said if any group wanted to form a private security organisation, such a group must apply to the Ministry of the Interior for the requisite permit to operate within the ambit of the laws of Ghana.
The IGP said Ghana had got to the stage where “we need to apply the whole-of-nation approach to manage the nation’s security challenges.
“Each citizen must be responsible and accountable. Let us help expose criminal elements in society by sharing relevant information with the police,” he said.
That, he said, also desired that Ghanaians “slow down on the ease with which we bastardise the police as if the police are expected to be an organisation of angels”.
On the ongoing police transformation agenda, where ICT was the main driver, Mr Asante-Apeatu said “the agenda is envisioned to achieve world-class policing within the agreed time frame of 10 years”.
On recent kidnappings and murders, he said it was worrying to the police anytime a single life was lost.
“We are mandated to protect lives and properties and we are not resting on our laurels. Mysterious deaths are a challenge to all police organisations worldwide.
“Sometimes it takes time to study and understand the modus operandi to demystify the crime, investigate it and get the culprits punished.
We are confident we shall overcome as we establish the Modus Operandi Analysis Cell,” he added.