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Opinions of Thursday, 26 November 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide

Ningo-Prampram riots: Will same order prevail during national election?

Opinion Opinion

The Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Ade Coker’s assertion that they, the ruling party, invited the military to manage security in Ningo-Prampram when hell broke loose there during the party’s primary sounded bizarre and outlandish.

It is a bad precedent which should be condemned by every Ghanaian, irrespective of their party affiliations.

We did not know until then that a ruling party can as it were deploy the military to trouble spots; we thought that resorting to such an option is the prerogative of the police who as managers of internal security can call for military support to assist them quell riots.

The president as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the citizen who can declare war against another sovereign country or deploy the military for internal security operations in the supporting role.

It was not surprising therefore when the Tema Regional Police Commander took exception to the development. It is inappropriate when a ruling party can as it were deploy troops.

Only a few days ago, some hoodlums clad in military uniforms engaged in a criminal activity at the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) headquarters, dragging the image of the institution in the mud.

Such flagrant abuse of power cannot inure to the benefit of the defence institution because it would presuppose that the ruling party or any of its assigns can deploy troops on the blind side of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS).

We are asking the CDS to come out on this matter. Was it with his authority that a politician moved troops to a trouble spot? What if the politician had deployed them for other activities leading to the loss of lives or even subversive reasons?

Is the new arrangement of politicians deploying troops to trouble spots limited to the ruling party? Will another party, when it comes to power, have the same authority to move troops as the NDC did in Ningo-Prampram? Would this same order prevail during a national election?

By that precedent the authority of the police has been eroded by a notch – something which is not in the interest of law enforcement and even the rule of law.

It is not for the military to enforce the law in a democratic system. When at the drop of the coin a politician from the ruling party can deploy troops, we are in trouble as a nation.

As a nation we must ensure a genuine growth of our institutions and be protective of our laws and conventions. This aberration is counterproductive. It is lamentable that those who pretend to have the interest of the nation at heart resort to this crude governance module, dangerous and primitive as it is.