Criminalise formation of political party vigilantes – CODEO

The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has called for the immediate disbandment of political party vigilante groups, and the enactment of laws to criminalise their formation and activities.

The Coalition noted that political party vigilante groups were illegal and acted as catalysts for insurgency and urged law enforcement agencies to “as a matter of national security”, deal with them accordingly.

It observed that the activities of such groups had increased under the Fourth Republic and had leached through the democratic process from elections, through government transitions and into the governance process, of which the events leading up to, and following the 2016 general elections had not been without.

At a media briefing at the end of the second edition of Regional Roundtable Deliberations on political vigilantism in the country in Ho, Mr John Larvie, and Togbe Adom Drayi II, members of the CODEO advisory board called on political parties to help end the menace.

The Coalition noted that political parties themselves were now feeling the pinch, and charged the leadership of the New Patriotic Party, and the National Democratic Congress, being responsible for nurturing such groups, to work together with the police to quell them.

Though stakeholders at the Ho meeting confirmed the minimal party-affiliated vigilante activities in the region, they agreed that even the least engagements of the groups by political parties could not be justified.

It was also observed that political interference in the work of the security services as related to vigilante groups, clogged channels to addressing the issue and participants collectively called for the top hierarchy of the Police Service to be shielded from political interference.

They also asked that security officers as well as officers of the Electoral Commission showed professionalism, and non-partisanship in the discharge of their duties.

It was overwhelmingly agreed that the creation of employment avenues for the youth would go a long way to prevent them from joining such groups, and participants appealed to government to help make youths productive.

It was also observed that political parties needed to educate their members, particularly those of the lower rungs, on the principles of democracy and good governance, with a call on the media to take up the anti-vigilante campaign.

GNA