“Violence should not beget violence. Violence should be reported to be punished.” That is part of an article I wrote after blood was spilled and limbs broken at Talensi over a bye-election some two years ago.
In this opinion piece that was aired on Television Africa, I condemned a suggestion by then Interior Minister, Mark Woyongo, that violence begets violence. I reminded Mark that his namesake in the Bible, the disciple Mark, had a teacher who taught the world not to return slap for slap. Mark’s master, Jesus Christ, preached against using violence to reply violence, and stressed the need for peace at all times.
Prior to the bye-election, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) had plunged into barbaric attacks on each other in their campaign for the Talensi seat that had fallen vacant. After criticising the Interior Minister, I urged the police below him to bow their heads in shame for allowing mayhem, violence, injuries and near-deaths to occur at Talensi. This was not the first time; this would not be the last time, unless the police started arresting and boldly prosecuting criminals wearing party colours to cause violence, I predicted. Four people had earlier been reported killed at Bimbilla. I said that was not the first time people were killing one another in chieftaincy rivalry; it surely was not going to be the last time. Why? Our police don’t arrest those who commit chieftaincy-related violence; if they arrest them, they play with them. Those the police deal with mercilessly are petty thieves and offending drivers who fail to give them chop-money on the roads and highways. I thus entreated then Police Inspector General, Mohammed Alhassan, to get his men and women to start dealing with political violence and chieftaincy-related crimes according to the law! Whether that matter-of-course advice has ever been seriously heeded, the recent brutalisation of a security coordinator posted to Kumasi, George Agyei, answers the question.
“New Patriotic Party, National Democratic Congress; the unruly behaviour exhibited by some who are, or purport to be, your members shocks the good people of this country. For the last twenty-twenty years, you have either been in power, or hungrily schemed to get into power. You ask the good people of this country for their mandate to administer good governance for the common good. What business do you have to form Bolga Bulldogs, Invisible Tigers, Azorka Boys, Footsoldiers and High-jackers to terrorise, beat, maim or kill your opponents or the very people you pledged to serve? You collect our taxes, command our police and military but set up such parallel paramilitary organisations as the Footsoldiers to send the signal that you yourselves have no confidence in the security services.” That is also something I wrote after the Talensi crime. At the time, I urged President John Dramani Mahama, Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, and Kwabena Agyei Agyepong; as leaders of the NDC and NPP, to do all it took to disband the offensive groups. Before then, I intoned, they should get those who had already caused breaches of the law prosecuted and punished. That would be the only way to justify their high offices as party leaders. The parties’ postures have largely suggested condoning. And that is how come the Delta and Invincible Forces etc., still hold sway.
And now, the perpetrator
Dear brother, dear sister who call yourself Delta Force, Verandah Boy or Verandah Girl, Foot-soldier, Azorka Boy, Invisible Tiger, or Bolga Bulldog; answer these questions for yourself. Are you a minister, MP, DCE, big party official’s child? Do you have a regular employment that earns you a decent salary every month? Are you gainfully self-employed? Are you adequately educated and having a vision for yourself and family? If your answers are that you are a school dropout, jobless, nonentity in the NPP or NDC who has no father, mother, godfather or godmother in there; then, that is the reason you are being used to do your party’s illegal dirty job. I wrote that one too two years ago and I think the import still holds.
Our people consider the sweetest proverb to be “It is bent but not broken.” If a tree is bent but not broken, it still holds the prospect of getting straightened up. Mistakes and lapses can be used as raw materials for correction and improvement. It is in this light that Ghana Today welcomes President Akufo-Addo’s order, about two months ago, that those purported NPP people seizing public property and causing disorder should be arrested and prosecuted. It is in the hope that we can begin to right some of the wrongs and stop the folly that Ghana Today welcomes government’s move to prosecute Ahmed Mohammed and his ilk who assaulted the security officer posted to Kumasi. It is true that governments and regime parties are not judges in their own courts: the Judiciary is independent and does not always return verdict in favour of the government. We will, nonetheless, entreat the courts for two things: fast adjudication of such violence cases and the delivery of justice that is indeed fair.
It is the position of this column that crime should not be tolerated on the ostensible excuse that tackling crime should be given a human face. To say that those who cultivate or sell marijuana should be given alternative livelihoods before being stopped or punished is untenable. Prostitution is no excuse for joblessness. Violence is no answer whatsoever to frustration or means of survival. All crimes should be penalised mercilessly. Having said that, Ghana Today takes note of the fact that every citizen is entitled to a decent life that includes meaningful education and worthy job opportunities. That the devil finds work for idle hands is a reality, though not a justification for a breach of the law. Let this and subsequent governments do all it takes to create more jobs to make many classes of people employable.
Much depends on the leaders of the parties. Disown those who commit crimes in your midst; they are a liability. Collecting signatures to picket a President to free men imprisoned for threatening to rape or kill judges is not only shocking but, on a more serious note, a recipe for a whopping election defeat.
Almost all those engaging in political and ethnic aggression bear Christian or Islamic names, somehow related to churches and mosques. Both sects abhor violence and preach peace daily. The Peace Council, churches and mosques should step up their campaigns to make Ghana more peaceful. In addition to preaching the supernatural, a few of the faiths find time to equip congregants, particularly the youth, with employable skills. Teach the youth how to fish, instead of giving them morsels of fish or telling them the story of the manna that fell 5,000 years ago.
Ultimately, the youth should learn to be self-supporting. They should learn employable skills. They should aspire for the heights of the politicians for whom they do the dirty works. The threat to ban college branches of political parties should be suspended. Such groups as Tertiary Students’ Confederacy and Tertiary Educational Institutions Network should do more to teach the youth civil responsibilities, discipline, hard work and effective party organisation. But, they should be reminded that – if their existence is characterized by scandals, clashes and other crimes – there could become real justification for scrapping all party wings on school campuses.
Bottom-line: deal ruthlessly with all violence and other crimes, Government, even if it will send some of your best party campaigners into jail! The larger majority of Ghanaians who are right-thinking will appreciate your sense of rule of law. May the next quarter be violence-free, I pray
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