Former Member of Parliament for North Dayi, George Loh, has condemned what he describes as the increasing spate of lawless acts by vigilante groups affiliated to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), saying such acts were minimal and not extreme as is happening currently.
According to Mr. Loh, these attacks were not rampant under the Mahama administration, considering under Nana Akufo-Addo’s era, people have had the courage to even storm a court and free suspects.
Delta Force 13
It would be recalled that, during the trial of the 13 members of pro-NPP vigilante group, Delta Force, they were freed from open court by their supposed colleagues, who were angered by the decision of the judge at the time to remand them into police custody.
The 13 suspects later turned themselves in to the court, and were made to sign a bond of good behaviour, and fined Ghc2,400 cedis each.
But under rather bizarre circumstances, the eight persons who raided the court, were freed for lack of evidence, a development that was widely condemned, considering the threat that action posed to the judiciary.
The 13 on the other hand, were fined Ghc1,800 each and made to sign of good behaviour for 12 months, when the case finally ended.
This was after their charges were reviewed from assaulting a public officer and causing unlawful damage to rioting.
Following these developments, many have described the fines slapped on the 13 as weak, and a subtle attempt by the government to ensure that the culprits who are members of the ruling party do not spend time in jail.
Speaking on these developments on Citi FM’s News Analysis Programme, The Big Issue, Mr. George Loh said “Nana Addo inherited a country devoid of all these things. He inherited a country that was peaceful. He inherited a country that went to many elections and came out safely. The NDC has been in power for eight years. If you check the records, you will not find even 5 cases of vigilantism. That the NDC’s time, people stormed the courts?”
Citi News has so far reported on about 19 separate attacks by vigilante groups since the NPP came into office.
The incident at Karaga involved an attack on a police station, with protesting members freeing colleagues in custody, whilst the Sissala West incident involved an attack on the District Chief Executive, who was locked up in his office.
These attacks have called into question the President’s commitment to dealing with vigilantism involving party supporters.
Mr. Loh indicated that, these attacks had gone a notch higher because culprits “do not get punished for it, so this emboldens them to continue to do what they do.”
He therefore reminded the President to show more commitment to dealing with the canker by cracking the whip on suspects.
“I want to remind President Akufo-Addo that, if for nothing at all, he’s been fighting to be President, and now that he has become President, he should know he has a legacy as a human rights activist and setting up colleges that he prides himself with to protect.”
More assurances; Nana Addo says vigilantes will be dealt with
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo is still reiterating his position that the laws of the country will crack the whip on political party vigilante groups, in spite of the fact that the groups, mostly affiliated to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), continue to carry out lawless acts across the country.
Speaking at the 2017 Ngmayem Festival at Manya Krobo on Friday, President Akufo-Addo assured that the law will work without regard for partisan considerations.
“…I want to reiterate the commitment of our government to maintaining the peace and security in of our country. The application of the laws of the land will occur, in the words of the judicial oath, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, and without recourse to the political, religious or ethnic affiliations of any citizen of the land.”
“When you fall foul of the law, you will be dealt with accordingly, and the law enforcement agencies, including the Judiciary, must ensure this is done,” he stated without any direct reference to or condemnation of any incident.