Private Legal Practitioner, Martin Kpebu says it is early days yet for Ghanaians to shoot down plans by government to formulate a law to end activities of political militias in the country.
While the two main political parties — the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) — continue to write open letters to each other following the President’s call on both parties to dialogue and fashion out a way to deal with the situation, many political parties and other stakeholders have said that legislation will yield no positive results.
But the President who is unfazed about these concerns have already instructed the Attorney General to prepare a legislative Instrument in that regard.
Speaking on Eyewitness News on Friday, Martin Kpebu said the decision by the President might have numerous benefits hence, admonished people agitating to wait for the legislation to be passed before writing it off.
“I disagree….considering all the criticisms and how far the country has come to discuss this topic over a month, I should think that before the President asks the AG to prepare legislation then it really might have been something good.”
“Those who think that we have sufficient laws to deal with vigilantism are not entirely correct. There are loopholes in the law. Just as we have rules on terrorist financing, we don’t have same on vigilantism. So this is one area we need to tackle. So far as we have not seen what the President and the Attorney General are talking about, it’s premature to say that it is not necessary,” he added.
The phenomenon of vigilantism has become a topical issue in the country following a surge in acts of physical attacks and assaults carried out by members of vigilante groups aligned to Ghana’s major political parties, NDC and NPP.
Some of these attacks have resulted in death and injuries on victims including innocent citizens.
Nana Addo instructs AG to prepare legislation against vigilantism
President Akufo-Addo says he has put the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo on standby to lay before Parliament a legislation to disband all forms of political party vigilante groups in the country.
He said the Attorney General, as part of the legislation, is expected to provide the necessary sanctions against the occurrence of party vigilantism.
Akufo-Addo explained that he is obliged to issue a legislation against the practice hence the decision, noting that, the move will not prejudice the expected dialogue between the NDC and the NPP on the matter.
“Since the constitutional responsibility of maintaining law and order in the country is that of the Executive, ie. the President of the Republic, I have in line with my pronouncement to Parliament during the Message of the State of the Nation on 21st February, 2019 instructed the Attorney General, without prejudice to the outcome of the engagement, in any, between the NPP and the NDC to prepare and submit to Parliament , as soon as possible, specific legislation to deal with the phenomenon of vigilantism, and provide appropriate sanctions against its occurrence.” Stop party vigilantism or I’ll do so with legislation – Nana Addo to NDC, NPP
Akufo-Addo said the phenomenon of political vigilantism has the potential of destabilizing the country and reversing the democratic gains the country has made over the years.
Citing the recent violence that marred the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency due to activities of supposed politically-aligned vigilante groups, President Akufo-Addo promised to use legislation to stop the phenomenon of political vigilantism if the two parties fail to stop it voluntarily.
“I want to use the platform of this Message to make a sincere, passionate appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties in our country, NPP and NDC, to come together, as soon as possible, preferably next week, to agree on appropriate measures to bring an end to this worrying and unacceptable phenomenon of vigilantism in our body politic. The security services of the country will be on standby to assist this meeting… If voluntary disbandment by the parties is not feasible, then I will initiate legislation on the matter. Vigorous debate and the exchange of ideas should be the true basis of political dialogue and competition in our country, not the activities of party vigilante groups,” he added.