The Operations Officer of the Accra Regional Police Command has told the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission of Enquiry that the promotion of vigilante groups by political parties can plunge the country into anarchy, as is being experienced in some war-torn countries that failed to quell the existence of such groups.
Chief Superintendent Kwasi Ofori said the alarming formation of vigilante groups that arrogated to themselves powers during elections seriously compromised all efforts by the police to enforce the law to maintain order and security.
“These numerous vigilante groups, such as the Azorka and the Bamba boys, will not help us. The sad story is that when you try to enforce the law as a police officer and try to arrest these boys and take them to court, you are linked politically,” he said.
Deal with vigilantism
Appearing before the commission yesterday, C/Supt Ofori said: “I believe that is the problem when it comes to vigilantism and we should, as a nation, look at it and deal with it; the political class should look at it.”
He said with his experience as a former peacekeeper in Liberia and Bosnia, where streets were manned by self-appointed generals and colonels of vigilante groups, Ghana must disband such groups.
“We need not reduce this country to that level,” he told the commission, citing instances when the police encountered difficulty in ensuring law and order at NDC national and regional elections at the Trade Fair Centre in Accra and at the University of Ghana as a result of the presence of vigilante groups, including the Al Qaeda and the Azorka Boys, who caused some confusion.
Ghana News Headlines
For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page
C/Supt Ofori was cross-examined by the members of the commission, who wanted to know why the NDC parliamentary candidate, Mr Delali Kwasi Brempong, had refused police protection following the shooting incident in front of his house during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 31, this year.
According to C/Supt Ofori, after the shooting of six persons in front of Mr Brempong’s house, he (Mr Ofori) and a team of senior police officers went to the house to offer Mr Brempong police protection but the candidate declined, since “there were 50 people, including young, heavily built men and a few women, to protect him”.
He recounted that he advised Mr Brempong that since he did not personally know all the 50 people, he should accept police protection for his own security.
Police not sharp enough
Answering questions on the failure of policemen to report the presence of “strange forces” at the La-Bawaleshie Polling Centre, C/Supt Ofori recounted that the police gathered information from some residents that a group, dressed in the SWAT team attire of black top over brown khaki, was moving in a 10-vehicle convoy
According to him, in spite of the availability of a communication network among police officers deployed to the constituency, no officer reported that he had seen such a strange force, outside that of the police deployed to the area.
He, however, told the commission that when he heard about the group at La-Bawaleshie, he dispatched a patrol team to the area.
“To be frank and candid, it was not reported. For effective police purposes, the mere presence of vehicles and the number of members of the group on the street should have attracted the ordinary police officer to report such a