I grew up in a small town in the western part of the country. Back then, when it was getting closer to the Christmas and new year festivities, there would be much heard about crime in the community. People would wake up to lost livestock and home appliances. Majority of the items these thieves stole though was farm produce. The worst and most dreadful was the killing of innocent people in the community.
Their heinous crimes birthed fear and tension in the town. Being predominantly farmers, most of the natives decided not to go to farm again due to the unchecked crimes. Another vice that was on the rise too was teenage pregnancy and the number of school dropouts. This was as a consequence of teenagers indulging in night life during the festivities, eventually leading to the obvious.
In the 2000s, police patrols were rare especially in our part of the country. The police station could only be reached two towns away. So, the Chief with the collaboration of the District Assembly representative of the community organized young men in the community to form a vigilante group who patrolled the town, especially at night. This brought back some much-needed peace and sanity to the community.
The members of the Mmarimamma vigilante group were not paid. The urge and perhaps the duty to protect their families and community was motivation enough to go into service. They were brave volunteers no one ever called them vigilantes in the community.
That was the only time I observed a vigilante group making sense and positively impacting lives of people and the community at large. The current trend of vigilantism is evil and would do more than evil if the government and authorities are not put on their toes to think about the lives they manifested to protect when they were looking for power.
Today, a mention of the word vigilante in Ghana and what comes to mind is a group of miscreants perpetrating crimes and unlawful activities with the express or affirmative concern of political parties.
The truth is, vigilantism in party politics has been with us since this country was born.
There was the Veranda Boys under the governance of President Kwame Nkrumah and his CPP party and The Action Troopers of the United Party. These groups were formed to protect loyalists of the various parties as a measure against hooliganism. Time passed by and the nation took on the clothes of democracy. Civilization and modernization crept in the affairs of the nation. There were issues of vigilantism though but were not gross misconduct.
The higher rate of unemployment has given rise to the formation of these groups recently. The hardship is real, and the idle youth is ready to do anything for survival especially with this perception that politicians are rich, so they are easily entrapped by the promises of these political parties.
Vigilantism technically isn’t illegal. The activities of the group define its legality. A recent case of vigilantism is the Tamale Teaching Hospital incident. A vigilante group called Kandahar Force believed to be a child of the current government broke into the office of the CEO of the hospital, drove him out and locked the office with accusations that David Zaawunya Kolbila,the CEO is mismanaging the institution, and indulging in corruption and nepotism. They also said the CEO has a company that he use to lobby for supplies from the hospital.
They did well in detecting the alleged crimes. But what right does such a group have to drive him out and lock his office with threats and demands to come back if the CEO was not sacked? Is Ghana a law abided country? Where is the rule of law we so pride ourself with? Do political parties have their laws different from the one recited in the courts? So why are the parties defending these groups they’ve given birth to despite the deviant activities they’re involved in? If their accusations were true, why couldn’t they report the case to court with evidences buttressing their accusations?
It is very heart-aching that the best means the government thought of was to build a police post at the hospital for a 24 hour surveillance since the current attack was not the first. Is that the best way to solve the vigilante attacks? Okay, so they will keep attacking all government appointed offices and the government will have to keep a 24 hour surveillance at all these places too right? Then how many police would be available to secure the towns?
There was an incident where a similar group bumped into a police cell, freed their member and even ended up taking the life of a policeman. I thought the leadership of this country would be bold and say no to vigilantism, but I was disappointed.
If not for evil deeds why would a party form and rely on vigilante groups instead of the skilled security men the nation has and is spending lots of resources to guard them? Why should a political party in opposition profess they don’t trust the security services of the nation? Then the nation is very ill, that these political parties can never make her healthy. If they don’t trust these security services with their own lives how could they protect the lives of ordinary citizens? Then I think the nation should stop wasting resources for the safe guarding of these politicians and let them rely on their so called vigilante groups.
If there should be a vigilante group, it should be a law abiding one that seeks the interest of a community, the safety and sanity of a town, and not the interest of a party and ready to shed blood for this evil cause.
Its funny how the youth spend their entire life in the gym just to rip their bodies to look manly fit for a political party to explore them into doing their dirty works, is that their worth? Its senseless as compared to how youth in other countries are impacting their countries.
Now, to the political parties and the current leadership of this country, if you believe in your vigilante group than the security services of the nation, then you’re a liar and a failure. Its obvious the life of the ordinary citizen doesn’t matter to you. All you crave for is power to serve yourself, your family and your party and not the entire nation. If not, prove us (the innocent citizens who gave you power) wrong.
The country needs more security services than vigilante groups of which these our leaders know but for their selfish interests and not the interest of the citizens they lied to they are quiet about it, no wonder they show less commitment towards deviance these group cause.
It would be better if these vigilante groups’ courage and bravery are employed into the security service of the nation. They should be converted into trained security men in the millitary or police to protect lives of the nation as a whole…
How safe the nation would be if every town has a police station and 24 hour police patrolling instead of vigilante groups belonging to selfish and careless political parties?
I will end by emphatically addressing the fact that the best form of vigilantism is the type that protect lives and interest of the community other than the evil and dirty works all in the name of answering to loyalty to their parties. Therefore the government should be bold enough to declare a ban on all these groups and as it is the president’s goal of eradicating unemployment and improving national security, it will be prudent that government employ these youth in the security services of the nation.
Ghana needs more skilled security services than vigilante groups. Let’s put partisan politics aside and look further into the future, considering with deep thought what our lovely Ghana would become if we don’t join voices to protest for abolishment of vigilantism.