The West Africa Nobles Forum (WANF), a non-governmental organisations, has added its voice the call on the government to disband all vigilante groups as a matter of urgency.
“The rate at which these vigilante groups are springing up is very alarming and the wantonness of their actions is very dreadful. Our fledgling democracy is under serious threat by these groups and the earlier we disbanded them, the better it would be for the protection of our endangered democracy, especially as we head towards Election 2020,” it said in a statement signed by its President-General Rev Dr Paul Fynn.
Making reference to by-election violence in Chereponi, Talensi, Atiwa, it said Ghanaians had experienced too much violence in by-elections.
“This trend must not be allowed to continue since it is fast making our otherwise, highly acclaimed democracy a subject of mockery in the eyes of the international community, thus eroding the gains and strides we have made since 1992,” it said.
The forum’s statement comes on the back of the January 31, 2019 Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election that turned bloody with shooting incident by masked men wearing National Security Council uniforms.
The government has subsequently set up a three-man commission to investigate the matter within a month.
Commenting on the issue, the forum said it was particularly concerned about the shooting incident at La-Bawaleshie that led to the injury of many people; reports of some masked men parading as police officers; the withdrawal of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) from the contest and the alleged bloating of the voters’ register.
“The government must also pay compensation to all the victims, especially those who sustained various forms of injuries. It is unfortunate that in their quest to exercise their civic duty of voting, they were repelled with acts that have no place in our 27-year-old democracy.
“WANF finds the assault on a sitting Member of Parliament, Mr Sam George, regrettable and an affront to law and order. No matter the circumstances that may have occasioned the assault, we believe that our security personnel are trained in a manner to deal with such matters more professionally,” it said.
On the alleged bloating of the voters’ register and the withdrawal of the NDC from the by-election, it urged the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) of the EC to deal with the issues with the view to restoring good faith in the electoral system.
“WANF believes transparency is a critical component of the success of elections and so anything related to elections, from personnel, logistics, contestants to security, must be transparent,” it said.
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On January 31, 2019, many masked men purportedly from the National Security Council drove in police SWAT vehicles to the La Bawaleshie area assaulted and shot at some supporters of the National Democratic Congress.
Six persons were critically injured and several sustained minor injuries. The NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram MP, Sam George, was captured in a video circulated on social media being assaulted by one of the members of the supposed security force who are not members of the Ghana Police Service.
The NDC subsequently pulled out of the election as a result of the violence.
The New Patriotic Party candidate, Ms Lydia Seyram Alhassan, won the election with over 60 per cent of votes cast despite a record low voter turnout of about per cent.