Ghana’s National Chief Imam Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu has stated that his office will not defend any member of the Zongo communities arrested for acts of violence before, during and after the December 7 general election.
He has therefore cautioned the youth in the Zongo communities to desist from engaging in acts that could lead to electoral violence.
At a press briefing in Accra on Monday, Sheikh Sharubutu said hat during the 2008 general election, relatives of most of the Zongo youths who were arrested by the police, particularly in Accra, pleaded with him to intervene for their release.
Many of these perpetrators, he reported, had stolen ballot boxes, beaten polling agents and encouraged minors to vote.
The press briefing was organised by the Islamic Peace and Security Council of Ghana (IPASEC) as part of its core responsibility to promote peace and enhance stability in the run-up to the elections.
The event also highlighted some of the initiatives put together by IPASEC to ensure that Muslim youth, especially those in the Zongo communities, do not become instruments for politicians interested in sowing unrest in the run up to the December polls.
“In the 2012 general election, nobody, including the heads of Muslim organisations in all the 10 regions of Ghana, will indulge himself or herself in matters involving violence and chaos perpetrated by the Zongo communities or any member of the Muslim religion,” he said.
Sheikh Sharubutu, who is also the Founder and Chairman of IPASEC, said Muslim communities in Ghana would not tolerate any acts of violence by their members that could pose a threat to the peaceful and stable environment enjoyed by Ghanaians.
“We want the general populace of Muslim communities in Ghana, especially the youth in the Zongo communities, to accept the outcome of the elections, whether it favours their political parties or not. Ghana is not for one section of people, nor is it for a particular religion, but for all of us,” he said.
He said that stealing ballot boxes, fighting opposing parties, forcing minors to vote and beating up polling agents are not the best channels for expressing displeasure or dissatisfaction with Ghanaian politics.
IPASEC Vice-Chairman Alhaji Ahmed Nii Nortey said that since May this year, the council had embarked on a massive education campaign to spread messages of electoral peace throughout the Zongo communities of the Greater Accra Region and listen to community members’ concerns.
He also announced that on election day, the council would deploy 400 trained youth to all 12 Zongo communities in Accra to monitor the electorate and ensure that peace is protected.
That same day, he said, trained youth will be sending the council reports of electoral activities that include the names of people seen engaging in violence.