The National Peace Council has called on the police to direct some attention towards disbanding warlords and land guard groupings as part of measures to ensure a peaceful election.
The Council said information available indicates politicians may fall on these groupings as a replacement for vigilante groups since the latter has been dissolved by the Related Offences Act, 2019.
“We have seen people who were sometimes following a particular party and later they went to the opponent. It tells you they are for the highest bidder. People are making themselves warlords and people are hiring their services”, Chairman of the Peace Council, Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante said.
According to the Act unanimously passed by parliament, an act or threat of violence or intimidation undertaken by a person or group to further the interest of the person or affiliate falls under vigilantism.
It specifically disbands land guards. Their existence, therefore, by the passage of the act is unlawful.
Nonetheless, land guards and other groupings continue to operate in the full glare of security agencies.
Prof. Asante said the existence of land guards creates an alternative source of henchmen for politicians in their quest to cause electoral violence.
He said this in an interview with Luv News on the sidelines of an advocacy workshop on the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act and roadmap to eradicate political vigilantism.
He believes public education on the act should go along with a punishment of the perpetrators to end their existence.
“The law was passed not long ago so we will have to do a lot of education for the public. Not only the peace council but all must be involved”, he said.
By the Act, persons found guilty of a vigilantism offence face at least ten to fifteen years in prison.
Prof. Asante believes beyond the law, political parties will have to repose trust in government institutions.
“Let us allow the institutions we have put in place to operate in accordance with the laws of the lands and there will be peace in this country”, he added.
The forum on vigilantism held in Kumasi brought together stakeholders in the Region to discuss issues on maintaining peaceful election process.
Some traditional authorities in the Ashanti Region who were present at the event outlined measures adopted to maintain peace in the country.
Queen Mother for Ejisu, Nana Yaa Asantewaa who leads a group of queen mothers advocating peace emphasized on the importance of the youth to their campaign.