The canker of vigilantism which is deeply taking root in our Ghanaian society dates back in centuries. History accounts that vigilantism had its roots from the Biblical reference of Genesis 34, the attack of Shechem by Simenon and Levi after the rape of their sister Dinah. Vigilantism is also noticed in 2 Samuel 13 where Absalom attacked and killed Amnon for raping Tamar, their sister.
The above examples of Biblical vigilantism were executed on the premise that justice was either delayed or not effected at all on the crimes committed by She chem and Am-non. This, truly, is one of the causes of vigilantism even in our modern day.
Vigilante groups, also known as mob organizations are “civilian groups acting in a law enforcement capacity without legal authority”. In Ghana, the most popular of these groups are political party vigilante groups which seek to act as security units of various political parties. However, their activities have over the years transcended beyond the confines of their parties, causing massive societal disorder to our long standing peace and harmony.
Vigilantism is not only a Ghanaian canker but of many other countries. For example, countries such as South Africa, India, Germany, Russia, Ireland, Philippines, England, USA etc have had to also battle with a number of vigilante justice or mob justice. The outcomes have always been as bad as that which we see and yet to experience in Ghana if we don’t halt the activities of these groups.
Vigilantism is bad and paints a doom future for nations which tolerate their practices. Vigilante groups are usually actually founded on the basis that there; is a perception of corruption and delays in the judicial system, ineffective law enforcement by government, improper legal forms of criminal punishment, and in our case of political party vigilantism that there is little or no trust of national security for most especially opposition parties and their followers.
Ghana’s fourth attempt at constitutional democratic governance which started in 1992 has been plagued with negative acts of political vigilantism. Political vigilante groups play a key role in securing electoral victory for their parties. But they are also key agents in pushing their parties to opposition. Vigilante groups, particularly those belonging to the party that won elections have over the years, taken the laws of the country into their own hands, forcibly ejected officials of previous administration from their apartments and physically assaulted them, as well as engaged in seizures of public property and assets in the custody of public officials in an uncoordinated manner.
These acts have fueled polarization in Ghana’s body politic and undermined the nation’s drive towards democratic maturity. Political party vigilante groups in Ghana tend to hold views of protecting the ballots in favor of their parties. Nonetheless, the outcomes have always shown that they are factually not protecting the ballots but inciting political party conflicts through their clash activities. The Hawks, Delta Force, Desperadoes, Azorka Boys, the Eagles, etc have nothing good to offer the people of Ghana.
They are only a group of civilians whose activities if not today but shall bring a great doom to our nation Ghana in the years to come. Lest we forget to tackle community vigilante groups. These groups could also be seen as community watch teams which seek to protect or guard their communities against external attacks. Pathetically, these community watch groups have turned to be the enemies of the very communities they intend to protect against external aggression. Cases such as Alavanyo-Nkonya crisis, Yendi crisis, Chokosi Konkomba Mamprusi crisis, etc are all instigated by a conflicting youth whose egos would not allow peace prevail despite their aged history of clashes.
The youth are always at the forefront of the fights we see each coming and passing day probably because they are strong and have the muscles to fire arms and hold the machete to the head of the supposed enemy. Those who are seen as enemies are truly not enemies if we become critical of the bond we hold together as a nation with one vision.
We must go beyond mediocrity and begin considering issues that are focused on building unity and solidarity among us as citizens. Vigilantism is evil, has always been evil and will forever be evil.
History has never recorded any positives of political party vigilantism or community vigilante groups. That is definitely because it has never offered anything good to nations faced with vigilantism. If we continue to celebrate vigilantism, the days for Ghana’s peace shall be doom with absolutely no glory.
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