The Minister of the Interior, Mr Prosper Douglas Bani, has served notice that personnel of the Ghana Police Service and the other security agencies are ready to deal with vigilante groups and individuals who would want to foment trouble during this year’s elections.
“The police and other security personnel have the mandate to secure all lives and ballot boxes during the elections. So we will have zero tolerance for violence in the upcoming elections,” he said.
He said the police were equipped to respond swiftly to all manner of violence that might occur, so if any individual or group of persons acted in ways that would lead to violence, they would be picked up and put through the rigors of the law.
Meet the press
Taking his turn at the meet-the-press series in Accra yesterday, Mr Bani said although there were no plans to close down social media, users of such media, especially the mainstream media and the public, should stay away from calling the elections.
The event was attended by a high-powered delegation of service commanders under the Ministry of the Interior, notably the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), the Ghana Prisons Service, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).
There has been growing concern by the public over the use of private security or vigilante groups, such as the Azorka Boys, the Bolga Bulldogs, the Invincible Forces, by some political parties.
Security experts, including the United Nations (UN) Special Representative to West Africa, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, have called for the disbandment of such groups, positing that their activities pose a threat to the country’s security.
Confidence in state institutions
Mr Bani said it was important for the public to have confidence in institutions such as the Electoral Commission (EC), the police and other law enforcement agencies, instead of resorting to illegal and unregistered entities for security.
He said there was a link among security, peace and national development, for which reason he also called for a collaborative approach by all stakeholders to “deal with miscreants who want to mortgage the peace of the country”.
According to him, it was normal that in the processes of competing for political power, tension, anxiety and agitation might arise, but added that it took shared responsibility on the part of the security agencies, religious organisations and concerned institutions to manage such situations.
In that regard, Mr Bani said, the Ministry of the Interior had, since January this year, collaborated with the agencies under its jurisdiction to set up task forces at the national, regional and district levels as a means of managing all hot spots and flashpoints that had been identified ahead of the December 7 polls.
“As part of our commitment to ensure peace and security, there has been sustained engagement with the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, the Christian Council of Ghana, the Office of the National Chief Imam and other Muslim organisations to strengthen structures that will promote peace,” he added.
Touching on the content of political messages, he stressed that all forms of communication by politicians aimed at earning electoral victory ought to be within the context of the rule of law and respect for opposing views.