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Opinions of Sunday, 9 April 2017

Columnist: Alex Blege

Vigilante groups in political parties – a betrayal of constitutionalism

After eleven years of military rule, the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana was birthed – a constitution that brought about multi party democracy and its accompanied rights, responsibilities and limitations.

Sadly, political parties – especially National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have set up vigilante groups that go on the rampage at one time or the other – a phenomenon that betrays the constitution that gives the right and responsibilities of political parties in Ghana. Chapter Seven of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana: “Representation of the People”, Article 55 (1), “the right to form political parties is hereby guaranteed”.

Article 55 (5), adds: “the internal organisation of a political party shall conform to democratic principles and its actions and purposes shall not contravene or be inconsistent with this Constitution or any other law” The constitution defines the internal organisation of all political parties – its organisation must conform to democratic principles – the raising of vigilante groups for the purposes of personal security may look harmless; however, it shows the distrust political parties have in state security services whether in opposition or in power – a phenomenon borne out of political polarisation of state security services Vigilantism in the Ghanaian body politic is a scar on the political conscience of our state.

The NDC and the NPP defend actions of vigilante groups of their political parties; instead of bowing their heads in shame because they have created monsters who are out of control and the ripple effects is staring them in the face.

Beyond the distrust that political parties have in state security, it shows that the state is ineffective in protecting them; thus the same mindset is handed down to these vigilante groups – thus monsters are created and set loose. If at any point in time a group of young men in a political party take the laws into their hands so as to get the attention of their paymasters, it says one thing – that there’s break down of law and order.

Law and order is important to the holistic development of every nation. No nation has ever developed in an atmosphere of lawlessness, disorderliness and chaos.

Current activities of vigilante groups in Ashanti and Eastern Regions respectively needs much to be desired – an attack on the Regional Security Coordinator, locking of the NHIA offices and latest is the obstruction of the course of justice as they attacked a Kumasi Circuit Court to set free their members who were supposed to be remanded in custody – what impudence? Media reports suggest that the culprits have been arrested, but, should we get to the point where groups of this nature attack state institutions like there’re no laws in this country? These acts of disrespect for law and order confirm the monsters that have been created out of these young men whose actions haunt their paymasters.

The matter is a threat to national security – “a source of worry” as the President puts it succinctly. The police are powerless in dealing with these young men due to the political strings tied to the phenomenon. Frankly, as long as vigilante groups are created by political parties it will be an impossible task for the police to clamp down on these young men.

The political parties have created monsters in the name of vigilante groups and it will take only these political parties to disband them. The only way to deal with this matter is to use the legal system to compel the political parties to disband these monsters of vigilante groups – for in civil societies where all actions of the citizenry are ordered by the constitution, political parties don’t raise vigilante groups, they exercise their rights as citizens by depending on the state to protect them.

It’s for the purposes of law and order that we chose to have a constitution – let’s show the whole world that our society is not one where political parties betray the very constitution that gives them their very existence.

Some members of the vigilante group, Delta Force attacked a Kumasi Circuit Court to free their members who were standing trial for their previous action on the Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator.