The National Communications Officer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi has described the Vigilantism Bill that has been laid before the Parliament of Ghana by the Attorney General meant to disband political party vigilante groups as ‘useless’.
The bill is proposing a 10-25-year prison term for anyone who participates in the activities of a political party vigilante group with an offensive weapon.
Clause 3 of the legislation known as Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill, 2019, prohibits the formation, organization, operation or promotion of the formation, organization, operation or activities of a political party vigilante group.
The clause further prohibits membership of a political party vigilante and participation in the activities of a political party vigilante group.
This bill was laid and read the First time on the floor of the Parliament on Thursday, April 11, 2019.
The Bill was laid on behalf of the Government by the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Gloria Akufo and was referred to the Committee on Constitution, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs by the Speaker, to consider its urgency or otherwise and report same to the plenary for consideration.
The Bill has the sole purpose of disbanding political party vigilante groups and proscribe acts of vigilantism in the country.
The move, was in fulfillment of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s pledge and commitment to disbanding political party vigilante groups in the country.
However, the laying of the Bill attracted divided opinions from both sides (Majority and Minority) of the House.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, argued that the certificate of urgency under which the Bill was brought to Parliament was unnecessary, insisting that it should rather go through the normal processes for the enactment of a law.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Sarah Adwoa Safo, on the hand said, the determination of the urgency of a Bill doesn’t lie in the mouth of the Speaker or the Minority Leader but rather the Committee.
But in an exclusive interview with Daniel Kaku, Lawyer Sammy Gyamfi said the bill does not address the issue of members of NPP political vigilante groups who have been integrated in the National Security apparatus and other Security Service.
He said emphasized that “Any anti-vigilantism law which doesn’t purge our security services of vigilante elements is useless”.
He added “…It all boils down to enforcement. The political will and courage to enforce the law is what matters and not the mere passage of laws”.
He, therefore opined that “The definition of vigilante, vigilante group and vigilantism on page 10 is very problematic. It can serve as an escape route for those who engage in plain political party thuggery”.
He continued “But most importantly, this bill does not address the issue of members of NPP political vigilante groups who have been integrated in the national security apparatus and other security services”.
Sammy Gyamfi explained that “Because then all ruling political parties will do, is to clothe their thugs with national security apparels/gear to terrorize their political opponents as we saw during Ayawaso West Wuogon bye-election”.