Listen To Article
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has warned that he will not sit down for any vigilante group to misbehave as the country prepares for the crucial general election on December 7.
He said the Vigilante Law, which was passed by Parliament in July last year, would be enforced to the letter and nobody can misbehave in the name of political parties.
He served the notice on Wednesday in the Talensi Constituency in the Upper East Region, where he was on a two-day campaign tour.
President Akufo-Addo said, “It is not going to be a law just on paper. It will be acted upon if anybody tries to breach the law. And I am saying this and I have said to the security agencies and the IGP and the top hierarchy of the police that as far as the vigilante law is concerned, I am colour-blind.”
The President promised that the Vigilantism and Related Offences Law,which came about following the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, would not be used one sided but rather it would be applied fairly on those who breach the rules.
President Akufo-Addo, who assented to the law in September 2019, gave some details about what the law entails, saying “a person who directly or indirectly instigates or solicits the activity of a vigilante, facilitates or encourages vigilantism, or conceals a vigilante to avoid lawful arrest, commits an offence, and is liable, on conviction, to a term of imprisonment of not less than ten (10) years and not more than fifteen (15) years.”
Recently in the Ashanti Region, the President had reiterated that there was no way the government would allow any group or individuals to bring chaos to the upcoming general election under his watch and had given assurance that he would ensure the election goes ahead as planned and it would be peaceful, transparent, devoid of chaos and the electorate would select their leader of choice in an atmosphere of peace.
“When it is time for the elections, anyone who has registered should go and vote. The upcoming polls will be peaceful; we will not allow anyone to foment trouble,” he said at Juaso in the Asante Akyem South Constituency on Tuesday during the second day of his tour of the Ashanti Region.
“For those who will seek to bring trouble, we will deal with them. They will know that the government has the power to deal with them. So, the polls will be peaceful for everyone to exercise their franchise,” he added.
In mid-September, President Akufo-Addo had cause to caution those planning to foment violence (troublemakers) during the general election, saying the security agencies are ready to crush such individuals and groups.
The President had given the strong warning while interacting with the chiefs and people of Techimantia in the Tano South District of the Ahafo Region during his tour of the region.
His warning was in response to an appeal made to him by the acting Chief and Krontihene of Techimantia Traditional Council, Nana Ampong Kromantag, who was worried that politicians, as usual, were making statements which could potentially endanger the peace of the country as the elections draw nearer.
The President had given an assurance that his government would not allow the country to descend into chaos and would continue to protect the gains made by Ghana as a bastion of peace and stability in the West African sub-region.
“We will not allow it; not under my watch as President of this land. It will not happen. This year’s election is going to be violence-free,” he assured the people.
He agreed with Nana Ampong Kromantag that there was the need for peace before, during and after the December polls, adding, “Elections are about contesting ideas and not use of guns and machetes to win votes. We will not allow it; it will not happen.”
In July 2019, Parliament passed the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill, 2019 after it was introduced earlier in the year by the government through the Attorney General to criminalize the activities of vigilante groups in the country.
First consideration of the bill came to an end on Friday, July 5, 2019 but some other crucial amendments were also considered later during the second consideration stage before it was finally passed unanimously by the House.
President Akufo-Addo gave a strong indication during his State of the Nation address in 2019 that he would bring a vigilantism bill to Parliament to fight the phenomenon of political vigilantism groups in the country after violence erupted during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 29, 2019.
The new law criminalizes also activities of land guards in the country as well and that offenders are liable to 15 years imprisonment and a huge fine as specified.
When the bill was introduced before the House, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) initially objected to the new vigilantism bill which was brought to Parliament under certificate of urgency.
Parliament then said there was the need to have further stakeholders’ consultations and engagements to be able to come out of a bill that would stand the test of time.
After the stakeholders’ consultations, the bill was finally subjected to consideration in Parliament going through first and second consideration stages before its final passage.
About 20 vigilante groups were identified to be disbanded when the bill was placed before Parliament and since it was assented to by the President, their activities have automatically been outlawed.
The groups, the bill identified, included Al Jazeera, Al Qaeda, Aluta Boys, Gbewaa Youth, Asamankese Forces, Aluta Boys, 66 Bench, Eastern Mambas, Burma Camp, Bukurisung and Baafira.
Others were NATO Forces, Pentagon, Crocodiles, Taliban Boys, The Dragons, Rasta Boys, The Rock, Lions Tohazie and Se Se Group.
Send Your Stories to email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp: 0576270779