Security analyst, Dr. Kwesi Aning, has named 24 violent groups in Ghana explaining that violence is a profitable venture in a country heading towards the 2020 general elections.
Speaking Monday at the Emile Short Commission investigating the violence that marred the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, Dr. Aning listed “Aluta Boys, Bukurosun, Hazi, Pentagon, Aljazeera, NATO Forces, Gbewa Youth, Azorka Boys as some of the groups.
Also included in his list was 66 Bench, Al-Kaida, Invincible Forces, Bamba Boys, Delta Force, Bolga Bull Dogs, Rasta Boys, Sese Group and Kandahar Boys.
He said since the 2016 general elections, more groups have been formed such as Eagle Forces, Lions, Hawks, Dragons, Burma camp, Ashanti vigilante group as well as Green Mambas, because violence has become a good bargaining chip.
“Violence is beneficial, it transforms lives, it creates new identities and it gives access to power,” he told the Commission investigating violence which left at least 15 injured, some from gunshot wounds.
Photo: Dr. Kwesi Aning has over 150 publications on security issues
There is growing evidence party militias from the two rival political parties- NPP and NDC- played roles sparking the electoral violence.
Dr. Kwesi Aning who is Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs & Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, described violence as “the most stable currency” in Ghana.
He traced the evolution of violent groups and zoomed in on those affiliated to political parties.
Dr. Aning who is also counter–terrorism expert told the Short Commission, party foot soldiers have learnt how to maximise their usefulness beyond being exploited and dumped by politicians.
“Foot soldiers perform particular types of services, intimidated people, disrupted rallies, and tore down campaign posters. But overtime started to organise, got more power”.
In recent years, they have obtained “a better understanding of how to use the tools of violence”.
Some of these violent groups now use the tools to demand access to political power.
Photo: Pro-NPP militia group Delta Force based in the Ashanti region
Government appointees have been attacked and sacked from their offices by pro-NPP militia groups. In other instances, public offices have been closed down while police watch on.
Dr. Aning suggested, soldiers ought to be unleashed to deal with the militias because by law “when you use violence to attack the representatives of the state, it is not the police that fight you, it is the armed forces”.
Explaining why the police have been unable to stamp out the menace, he complained that since the 1960s, the Ghana Police Service’s lawful function of protecting lives and properties has been undermined.
“Every Commission of inquiry that has been established concerning the Ghana Police Service, its functionality and its challenges….have consistently spoken about the need to strengthen the capacity and even more importantly the independence.”
He said the lack of a resources and independent police service, has left the institution “incapable, unwilling and frightened”.
In a shocking incident of militia action, members of Delta Force freed their compatriots standing trial in a court in the Ashanti region.
Some 13 convicted members of Delta Force were fined GH¢1, 800 each in 2017 for conspiracy to commit crime, crime to wit, conspiracy and rioting.
In another, 8 Delta Force suspects were freed after the state said it did not have enough evidence to continue prosecution.