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General News of Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Source: XYZ

Take Akufo-Addo to court if he fails to disband vigilante – Oye Lithur to Ghanaians

A Former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur has shared her views on the growing incidence of vigilantism and pockets of violence marring the peace and stability of the country.

She believes president Nana Akufo-Addo, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, is not doing enough to tackle vigilantism which keeps threatening lives and the democracy of the country.

The former cabinet minister said she's disappointed that the activities of vigilante groups keep rising and endangering the country although Ghanaians and civil society groups had raised concerns over them.

Criticizing the government, the human rights lawyer, however, called on Ghanaians to "rise up" and kick against the reluctance of the Akufo-Addo government to disband such party militias from the country.

“If he fails to answer questions, Ghanaians should take it up to the court," she told Mugabe Maase on Inside Politics on Radio XYZ 93.1, explaining that the silence and posturing of the ministers in charge of the country's security over the worrying trend only means "the groups will continue to operate with impunity" and cause harm to innocent people.

Madam Oye Lithur was reacting to the latest Joy News exposé that unveiled the activities of a vigilante group associated with the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) which trains at the former seat of government, the Christiansborg Castle at Osu in Accra.

The investigative journalist, Manasseh Azuri Awuni, exposed the operations of the group known as ‘De-Eye Group’ and said the facility had been used by the militia group for close to two years.

In the documentary which was aired last Thursday, it emerged that sometimes the group offers protection to some state functions. Manasseh also revealed the group provided security at the Accra International Conference Centre on December 7, 2018 when the NPP held the ceremony at Centre to celebrate the legacy and launch a foundation of one of the founding fathers of the party, Simon Dombo.

They manned the gate to the Conference Centre and were everywhere including the main entrances to the Conference Hall.

This programme which had President Akufo-Addo a the special guest of honour was attended by almost everyone who matters in the NPP, including former President H.E John Agyekum Kufuor, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife Samira.

After the documentary was shown, Ghanaians have been wondering whether President Akufo-Addo was really committed to fighting political party millitia in the country as he disclosed when presenting his state of the nation address last month.

But Nana Oye Lithur, who is not convinced the government will disband such groups, argued that the security of the country was being "endangered."

"The peace of Ghana is endangered [and] consistently, we’ve had a certain level of lawlessless, we’ve had a certain level of impunity (in the country)" she said.

To her, the thriving of the party vigilante groups came about when some members of NPP affiliated vigilante group, Delta Force, stormed the Kumasi Circuit Court in April 2017 and freed the members of their group who were facing charges for causing disturbances at the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council.

Disbanding Vigilante Groups

To disband the groups, Nana Oye Lithur stated that the president should support the National Democratic Congress (NDC's) call to commence a dialogue to end the menace of vigilantism before an independent institution that will mediate the process.

“The idea the NDC brought to involve civil society groups in a dialogue to disband Vigilante groups is the correct and accurate way to go," she added and contended that the role of the civil society groups cannot be underestimated in such democratic processes.

She continued: “They (CSOs) have played very strategic role in getting us where we find ourselves…He (Akufo-Addo) knows that the CSOs have helped in deepening our democratic culture."