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26 June 2016

Disband Political Vigilante Groups — Bani Directs Security Service

igpPolice commanders yesterday held a crucial meeting on security, ahead of this year’s general election, with a call by the Minister of the Interior, Mr Prosper Bani, to the Ghana Police Service to immediately disband all vigilante groups affiliated to political parties.

“You must respond to security challenges in a way that will enhance our national image.  Of the greatest importance is the need to keep an eye on the so-called private security forces that are increasingly being linked to political parties,” he said.

At the opening session of a National Police Command Conference in Accra yesterday, Mr Bani said, “We cannot afford to leave the safety and security of this country and its people in the hands of faceless individuals and groups.”

He urged political parties and their leaders to rely on the police for the provision of security at all times instead of the vigilante groups which threatened the peace and stability of the country.

He also encouraged all political leaders with security concerns to approach the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr John Kudalor, for assistance.

The National Police Command Conference had the theme: “Safeguarding our democracy – Safe and secure environment – before, during and after Election 2016”.

The conference is organised annually by the Police Administration and it is attended by the Police Management Board members, representatives of other security agencies and all regional police commanders who discuss policing in general and respond to security concerns in the country.

Vigilante groups

The minister’s directive re-echoes calls by various interest groups, including civil society organisations, on  the Police Adminstration to ban the activities of private security forces associated with political parties.

The Azorka Boys from Tamale, who are associated with the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the Bolga Bulldogs, associated with the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), allegedly clash during political activities and elections.

Some other politically motivated vigilante groups have been involved in violent clashes, resulting in the destruction of property, while a number of people have either been wounded or lost their lives.

In January this year, the IGP, Mr Kudalor, announced that there were plans to disband all vigilante groups associated with political parties following an advice by the Attorney-General that all those groups were unlawful and illegal.

Advice

Mr Bani also urged personnel of the Ghana Police Service to live above reproach and carry out their duties with integrity and without fear or favour in the upcoming general election.

“We have had too many complaints about the police in recent times, although many of the complaints seem to be exaggerated,” he said.

The police, he added, must be neutral, professional and vigilant throughout the election process.

The IGP

In his welcome address, Mr Kudalor said adequate measures had been put in place to ensure that the security and safety needs of the political parties were addressed.

He announced that selected policemen who had been trained to protect presidential candidates and their running mates contesting the November general election were commissioned yesterday.

He said the 2016 general election would be fiercely contested, as “all political parties are determined to win this election. This determination is  undoubtedly going to pose a lot of challenges to us as the key stakeholders in ensuring security. Nonetheless, we have always surmounted these tasks with utmost admiration”.

Mr Kudalor added that a detailed audit had been conducted throughout the country to identify all the flashpoints and vulnerable areas.

Based on the audit, he said, comprehensive operational strategies had been mapped out to take care of all the violence-prone areas.

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