Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has expressed concern that Ghana risks civil conflict and other external attacks if the issue of political vigilantism is not deal with.
According to him, the number of young Ghanaians engaging in vigilantism and ethers joining terrorist groups like ISIS posed a serious threat to the future of the country.
“We have great numbers of youth who will want to sacrifice their lives for some people because they promised them heaven, and that is dangerous because these politicians dump them after they have used them for their personal interest,” the Majority Leader stated.
The Majority Leader raised these issues during a Dialogue with Media in Accra on the Vigilante and Related Bill currently before parliament.
Speaking on the theme: “Curbing Political Vigilantism: The Media’s Take”, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who is also the Member of Parliament for Suame Constituency in the Ashanti Region, discouraged the Ghanaian youth against joining any political vigilante group.
“Why should the youth endanger himself for someone else to win political power? There is a depth of patriotic and selfless people in Ghana who are willing to lay down their lives for this country.
“This impunity must be stopped right in its track. If we do not stop political vigilantism, it could escalate from ‘boot for boot’ to ‘bomb to bomb.”
The Minister warned that “conflict is so close to us. If we do not put our house to order because of internal conflicts vigilantism could escalate.”
He added that, political vigilantism is not a good venture and that persons he knew to have participated in such dreadful business have all long died and the few who are surviving are not in good condition.
Dr Roland Affail Monney, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), reiterated the media commitment to help fight against political vigilantism and that would name and shame individuals who would oppose the disbandment of the vigilantism.
“As media practitioners, with a huge project to disband vigilantism, we should name and shame anyone or any group which poses an obstacle to do away with vigilantism and consign them to the dustbin of history”, he explained.
“It is said that any law which has no element of education is a hallucination. So after the law is passed, as media practitioners, we have a duty imposed by urgent necessity in the supreme national interest to educate Ghanaians by the provisions of the law to get them to own this law, to get them to internalize this law and reflect them in their daily lives,” he added.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Evans Aggrey-Darkoh noted that the two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) willingness to sit with the National Peace Council to find a lasting solution to the canker is commendable.
He expressed confidence that the Vigilantism and Related Offence Bill currently before parliament, would help curb the canker but there is the need for the citizens to be patriotic.
Dr Aggrey-Darkoh indicated that the Bill when passed, would ensure harsh punishment for offenders to deter people from indulging in vigilantism.
Per the Bill, offenders will serve a prison term of five years minimum and maximum of 15 years, while those who sponsor the activities of vigilantism when finding guilty, would serve in prison for 10-25-years jail terms.
The activities of political vigilante groups create a general state of insecurity through direct, structural and cultural violence and if not checked could lead to a state of paralysis and state capture with its attendant problems.
These pernicious effects of these political vigilante groups have been well articulated by academics, political parties, social commentators, religious leaders and all democracy-seeking institutions and individuals and development partners.
Considering the crucial role of the media in nation-building, especially in promoting peace, security and development, they can prove invaluable in supporting efforts at addressing the incipient violent political vigilantism in the country.
It is against this backdrop that the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, in line with its mission of engaging the media in the national development efforts, is organizing this dialogue with the media to elicit their support in curbing political vigilantism in Ghana.