By Patrick Biddah
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu, has warned the youth, who actively engaged in vigilantism to value their lives by staying away from joining vigilante groups.
He said past events, have shown that all those who allowed themselves to be used by political parties in fomenting all kinds of violence for political gains never survived.
According to the Minister, who is also the Majority Leader in Parliament , all 13 out of a 14 member vigilante group, which was started by a political party in Suame, have all died.
Their deaths, he recalled was as a result of their involvement in armed robbery activities after they were no longer needed by the political party that formed them in 1996.
Speaking at a dialogue with the Media on vigilantism in Accra ,the Minister, said the youth should not endanger their lives by allowing themselves to be used by politicians for power.
According to him, the 13 members of the vigilante group who died, moved from Suame ,a suburb of Kumasi to the Brong Ahafo region to undertake series of armed robbery activities using the ammunition and vehicles that was given to them to aid their vigilante activities as of the time.
Organized by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs ,the Dialogue was on the theme: Curbing Political Vigilantism: The Media’s Take.
This dialogue which is not the first of its kind, is to deepen greater participation of all stakeholders and to allow divergent views towards nation building.
The Minister, therefore, advised the media not to use their platforms to promote traces of vigilante activities and that if the media can arise above the political fray, the threat which these acts of vigilantism poses can be stopped in its tracks.
The tough talking Legislator, want Ghanaians to be open and candid about the formation of these groups and their activities , saying they did not just start today .
Government, he pointed out should not pretend they do not know anything about these groups, likewise the political parties.
In spite of the denials from political parties of not owning vigilante groups, Ghanaians he noted, are very much aware of the truth.
The culmination of events in the Akwatia, Atiwa,Talensi, Chereponi and the Amenfi violence By-elections according to him, is what happened at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence.
He called on the citizenry to be careful of not taking the peace in the country for granted, because countries next door such as Togo and Cote’de’voire, used to be as peaceful as Ghana.
Article 55 of the 1992 Constitution, he noted tells what a political party should be formed to do.
The formation of a security group within the political party he said is a breach of the Constitution which therefore makes these vigilante groups illegal.
The President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Mr Roland Affail Monney, who made an input, said the media can make an impact in the fight against vigilantism when they name and shame those who are known to be funding the activities of these groups.
For his part, the Chairman of the National Media Commission(NMC),Mr Yaw Ayeboafo, urged Journalists to segregate the incidents arising out of the activities of vigilante groups, saying they should not be lumped together in order to deal with each case separately and that the media should not be seen as undermining the process.