…As Political Sponsorship Greases Growth Of Terror Group
Last Friday, Ghanaians domiciled in the United Kingdom and Ireland made international headlines with a demonstration against the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, led by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
A lot of shine that was supposed to bespangle the President’s address of his own country-folk at a town hall meeting in Westminster had been taken away, as members of the Ghanaian Community rather turned up with placards.
Under permit from London’s Metropolitan Police, the aggrieved Ghanaians had thronged the venue of the meeting bearing posters that denounced the President and his administration for incompetence on virtually every front of statecraft.
Within the general sentiment of disenchantment with the NPP government on display, however, anger over what is seen as burgeoning terrorism in Ghana had been strongly thematic.
“Stop the lawlessness by your vigilantes,” one placard had read. “We need a safe Ghana,” another had read. Yet another placard had read, “Invisible Forces, Delta Forces are criminals, jail them!”
The naming of Delta Force and Invisible Forces by the UK demonstrators goes to the heart of a subculture of open gangsterism that has superimposed the rule of law in Ghana. Punctuated by mob lynching, assault of security agents and goon squads, the state of insecurity in Ghana is led by goons of the ruling party.
These goons are sponsored by leading politicians of the ruling NPP, with MP for Assin Central Ken Agyapong and Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, known as bankrollers. The development is very stylistic of political sponsorship that helped to nurture Nigeria based terror group, Boko Haram.
Like the NPP goon squads, Boko Haram is said to have been deployed by politicians to terrorize opponents in exchange for money during the group’s formative years.
In Ghana Delta Force, the Ashanti Regional goon squad of the NPP, which arrogates to itself the name of an elite unit of the United States army, is headlining goonery that includes openly defying prosecution after overthrowing court adjudication and assaulting a judge in broad day light.
In the wake of that perpetration, an orchestration by the state to shield the group from justice threw up drama, including the public renewal of allegiance to the ruling party by Delta Force, while a Member of Parliament from the NPP vowed to protect them from justice.
Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, the NPP MP for Assin Central, who has vowed to bring his own government down if the party goons are prosecuted, has in a passionate defense of the group also revealed that in addition to himself high profile government actors who bankroll the thugs include National Security Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah.
Kan-Dapaah, according to Ken Agyapong, sponsored party goons until he suddenly stopped at a point.
The revelation about NPP politicians’ deep involvement with Delta Force resonates loudly revelations about secret political sponsorship that is said to have helped the growth of Nigerian terror group, Boko Haram. As Boko Haram murders and destroys life and property in Nigeria, the warning is that a Frankenstein Monster is in the offing in Ghana as the likes of Delta Force wax stronger under NPP.
The all too familiar narrative on Boko Haram is that the terror group is an Islamist fundamentalist paramilitary association, which had arisen in Maiduguri, North Eastern Nigeria, as a result of wide disparity in development between the Christian South and the Islamic North.
Mohammed Yusuf, who had founded the group in 2002, had had a goal to turn the North into a caliphate and had capitalized on the poverty and general Islamic fundamentalist sentiments of the North, to recruit young people and train them into jihadis, using mosques and schools that he had built.
Eventually, as the story goes, Yusuf’s recruits, who were mainly Moslems from poor families and unemployed youth from Nigeria and other neighboring countries, had started public confrontations with security agencies in Nigeria, which had led to the arrest of Yusuf in 2009.
Allegedly, following the arrest, Yusuf Mohammed had been summarily executed by the police and this had led to Boko Haram’s tumultuous gravitation towards the violence that has made them the dreaded terror group responsible for the killing of at least 20,000 people and the displacement of some 2.3million others.
Researchers on the terror group, however, have long revealed that the popular biography on Boko Haram is only half of the story and that the true details include the fact that sponsorship by Nigerian politicians has been a crucial source of nourishment.
Max Silloun, a Nigerian historian, for instance, observes that violence perpetrated by Boko Haram has suspiciously tended to increase 12 to 18 months before Presidential elections in Nigeria.
As part of the political fingerprints, a senior member of Boko Haram, Kabiru Sokoto, had in 2012 been found in a state governor’s house after escaping police captivity. A year before, a Nigerian senator had been arrested on suspicion of aiding the group after he had allegedly telephoned a Boko Haram militant more than 70 times in one month.
Stephen Davis, a former Anglican clergyman who has negotiated with Boko Haram many times, blames local Nigerian politicians who support local banditry in order to make life difficult for their political opponents as source of sponsorship for Boko Haram.
In particular Davis has blamed the former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, who, he says, initially supported Boko Haram but no longer needed them after the 2007 elections and stopped funding them.
The foregoing and many other revelations about the secret funding of Boko Haram by politicians have shown that political sponsorship is the main financial grease. But apparently, the dumping of the group after use by politicians to achieve their goals is a factor that fuels the fury with which they undertake their murderous operations, including suicide bombings.
In Ghana, bankrollers of the NPP’s goon squads, such as Delta Force, include, as Ken Agyapong reveals, National Security Minister, Albert Kan- Dapaah. Kan-Dapaah provided part of the goons’ financial muscle until he suddenly stopped sponsoring them, Ken Agyapong says.
Mr. Agyapong reveals that upon Kan-Dapaah’s appointment as National Security Minister, he was approached by members of the Delta Force, with an air of entitlement, to absorb them into National Security, but Kan-Dapaah turned them down. Soon, the group struck in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital.
George Agyei, the Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator, was set upon by the group, manhandled and thrown out of his office.
Pertinently, just like Boko Haram, the members of Delta Force are mainly illiterate youth bereft of meaningful employable skills. Violence that, as Ken Agyapong reveals, they had perpetrated in the cause of the NPP when the party was in opposition, had been diligently carried out in the understanding that the illiterate membership would be rewarded with employment into National Security if the NPP won power.
And so, when they approached Kan-Dapaah in an attempt to exercise their sense of entitlement to absorption into National Security and the National Security Minister, who used to be a sponsor, turned them down, it was a betrayal that angered them deeply.
George Agyei had been manhandled, removed from his office and the office locked by Delta Force.
Upon the assault, a national outcry led to arrest and arraignment of some 13 members of the group before a Circuit court in Kumasi. However, other members of the same Delta Force stormed the Kumasi Circuit court where their members were facing trial, overthrew the trial and forcibly freed the suspects who had been remanded into custody.
In the process the trial judge, Mary Nsenkyire, was assaulted.
Another national lament, amidst condemnation by the United Nations, soon led to revelations that the group’s vandalism of the court had been carried out in anger as a result of the non-fulfillment of a promise that the NPP government had secretly made to them that their members standing trial over the George Agyei assault would not be jailed.
Ernest Appiah Dankwa, a leading member of Delta Force, had revealed in radio interviews that following the arraignment of the 13 members over the attack on George Agyei, some big men in government had promised them that they would be freed by the court. It was therefore a total betrayal to them that the court had rather remanded their colleagues in custody.
Media reports around that same time had indicated that following the arraignment, members of the group had been invited by President Akufo-Addo himself to the Flagstaff House and given the assurance that the court would free them.
Ken Agyapong, who had taken the side of the group, openly vowed on radio that if the government jailed members of the group he would personally undo his own government.
In the process of defending the group, Ken Agyapong had also vowed to do everything possible, to ensure that people that the predecessor NDC government had employed into National Security are replaced with members of the NPP’s goon squads.
Interestingly, Ken Agyapong’s glorification of the Delta Force as party asset had come after Kan-Dapaah had denied in Parliament that party paramilitary groups existed in Ghana.
Ken Agyapong’s threat to the government over Delta Force soon saw a senior state attorney in the Ashanti Region, filing to discontinue the case against Delta Force. An ensuing public outcry soon led to the Attorney General herself, Gloria Akuffo, claiming that that scandalous discontinuation had been done without recourse to her.
Following the acquittal of members of the group, Ernest Appiah Dankwa, a leading goon of the party, renewed their allegiance to the ruling NPP, recanting threats to abandon the party that he had earlier made over their arraignment before court.
Another Delta Force member, Kwesi Debrah, had boasted to journalists that the arrest and arraignment of their members had rather been good for the Delta Force, saying it had made them so attractive that even more people, including women, were joining their ranks.
Like Boko Haram, the group’s membership is mainly made up of uneducated and jobless youth, who are readily available to the NPP for dirty hatchet jobs. But Delta Force is just one of several of suchlike groups available to the ruling party. NPP has goon squads in all ten regions of the country.
The current spate of goonery and lawlessness that partly led to the demonstrations against President Akufo-Addo in London was actually started by a Greater Accra Region based goon squad of the NPP – the Invisible Forces.
Immediately President Akufo-Addo was sworn into office on 7th of January, the Invisible Forces hit town and started seizing cars belonging to members of the predecessor National Democratic Congress government.
In the cause of the seizure spree, Invisible Forces had harassed Ghanaians, including a police officer, DSP Nanka Bruce, who had been assaulted and dispossessed of a vehicle at the Flagstaff House, the seat of government.
Even though the assault had been caught on CCTV camera, the group has since not been prosecuted.
In addition to Delta Force and Invisible Forces, the list of known NPP goon squads includes Terminator One Forces of the Brong Ahafo Region, Mission Impossible Forces of the Western Region, 007 Forces of Central Region, Rambo Babies of the Volta Region, and the Cyborg Forces of the Upper West Region.
Others are the Bolgatanga Bulldogs and, Terminator Two Forces of the Upper East Region, Akanfo Kwaebibirem Forces of Eastern Region and the Kandahar Boys of Northern Region.
The Kandahar Boys recently made the news when they violently resisted the appointment of President Akufo-Addo’s chosen Municipal Chief Executive for Savelugu Nantong, Ayishetu Seidu. In confrontation with law enforcement agents there, it is reported that bullets had flown through the air.
Just like their sister groups, Delta Force and Invisible Forces, all these other groups have memberships that are made up of illiterates. Like members of Nigeria’s Boko Haram, these NPP goon squad members are illiterate and bereft of any meaningful employment skills.
As they have operated a modus operandi of mayhem and violence in the cause of the NPP, the scary potentiality is that if, the party eventually gets tired of using their services and abandons them, their poor employable skill set will marooned them in unemployment and entice them into gravitating towards local terrorism.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram started off similarly, metamorphosing from a largely peaceful Islamic fundamentalist group into a nightmarish terror gang that now also kidnaps for ransom as a way of farming for funding.
And worryingly, this Frankenstein Monster that the NPP has created for Ghana was brought up with an appetite for good money that was provided by rich sponsors in the ruling party. Among these sponsors, per revelations, is Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, who in 2014, is said to have secretly flown in Serbian guerrilla mercenaries to train some members of the goon squads in military tactics.
Paul Afoko, sacked National Chairman of the NPP, tells of how Ofori-Atta had secretly brought in the Serbians to train party goons on the blind side even he the then party Chairman himself.
In a 2016 interview with AfricaWatch, a pan African magazine, Afoko reveals that Ken Ofori-Atta, owner of Data Bank, had hosted the Serbian mercenaries in a hotel at Mile 7, a suburb of Achimota in Accra, after he had secretly brought them into the country.
Ken Ofori-Atta had, in addition to taking care of their lodging, also paid them to train some of the party’s goons in military drills and violent tactics as part of a training program that, according to Afoko, shocked him to the marrow when he discovered it.
“These people [NPP] were out of their minds. They wanted to win the elections on the streets of Ghana and not at the ballot box…that is the militancy I am talking about. I told them that I, Paul Afoko, as chairman of the NPP, would never allow them to take the party on that crazy route.
“In the presence of the Serbians, I admonished our party people and asked them to leave the hotel immediately and go home,” he had told the Africa Watch magazine in an interview.
Not too long after that encounter, Afoko was sacked as Chairman of the party.
The revelation to AfricaWatch had come weeks after three South African ex-police officers, had been arrested by the security agencies for training private security personnel of NPP’s Presidential Candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo and his running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
Major Ahmed Shaik (rtd), 54, Warrant Officer Denver Dwahye, 33, and Captain Mlungiseli Jokani, 45 – had been similarly brought into the country secretly by the NPP and paid to train members of the party’s goons in military drills and tactics.
After picking them up at the El-Capitano Hotel, located at Agona Duakwa, where they had been secretly lodging, the police were to find out that that secret visitation to Ghana was not the first time that the group had come into the country to train NPP goons.
The ruling party’s use of goons during its eight years in opposition is public knowledge with President Akufo-Addo’s 2010 infamous public approval of violence perpetrated by Invisible Forces in the Atiwa by-election seen as a signature endorsement.
However, ever since the party came into power, the goon squads have become a problem, with the party struggling to deal with the Frankenstein monster that it groomed in opposition.
A spate of goonery that emerged with the election of the NPP into office was soon escalated from members of the predecessor NDC government to members of the ruling party itself.
An attack on Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator has since been only a part of a host of attacks by the party’s goons, including assault of MMDCE nominees and even a judge.
The turn of events has left the NPP with embarrassment leading to an appearance before Parliament by National Security Minister, Kan- Dapaah.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah had however claimed that there were no such things as party paramilitary groups in the country, suggesting that if there are any, he would ban them. However, not too long after the claim, Ken Agyapong revealed on radio that Kan-Dapaah had been a longstanding bankroller of paramilitary goons in his party until he suddenly stopped.
Recounting that he, Ken Agyapong himself, was a bankroller, he said he had at a point furnished the party goons with 1 billion cedis as funding for their activities, vowing to do everything to ensure that the goons are not prosecuted and jailed.
The government’s subsequent freeing of the Delta Force goons who had attacked a judge has since been a headline feature in public lawlessness that has marked the Presidency of Nana Akufo-Addo, less than six months into his administration.
As the public increasingly becomes impatient with Akufo-Addo’s poor handling of spiraling lawlessness, it is feared that the NPP’s dalliance with goons is a dance with the devil that has gone too far down the line.
Members of the party’s goon squads, who are mainly uneducated and unemployed youth, have been encouraged by the party to operate a vocation of violence for a long time.
A foreseeable abandonment of these goons by the party in future, spells up the possibility of these goons regrouping into terror gangs that are left to their own devices.
A Ghana version of Boko Haram may just be in the offing.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels