Broaden party militia convo – Eagles Forum

The Eagles Forum, a civil society organisation, has commended President Nana Akufo-Addo for calling on the two leading political parties in the country, New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress NDC (NDC), to commence dialogue in order to end the menace of political party militarism...

The Eagles Forum, a civil society organisation, has commended President Nana Akufo-Addo for calling on the two leading political parties in the country, New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress NDC (NDC), to commence dialogue in order to end the menace of political party militarism.

The organisation also commended the opposition NDC for its willingness to collaborate with the NPP to deal with the phenomenon of political militarism which has threatened the gains made by the country since transitioning to multi-party democracy in 1992.

In a statement released by the Eagles Forum on Monday, 18 March 2109, and signed by its Vice-President, Mr. Dominic K. Louis, the group said: “We are equally encouraged by the commendable work the current Justice Emile Short Commission is doing and wish to state that attempts to help their work must be targeted at the causative factors of negative vigilantism and private illegal militia.”

The group, however, stated that its concern is “the president’s call to both parties the NPP and the NDC to meet over the matter when independent institutions like the Peace Council can be called upon to mediate the dialogue for a permanent resolution of the emerging phenomenon of private militia in our country.

“The president’s position is reiterated in his rejection of the NDC’s proposal for the Peace Council to lead the process whilst giving the opportunity to other stakeholders (all political parties and CSOs) to be part of the process which we find a bit worrying.”

The organisation believes that: “The suggestion by the NDC should have been taken on board mindful of the deep mistrust between both leading political parties even in dealing with matters of immense national interest. The president’s response to this letter and his proposed way forward, may not lead to unravelling the underlining problem and resolving it comprehensively but rather may set another stage for a politically acrimonious discussion between these two parties that may lead us nowhere but further poison the already tensed political atmosphere.

“We are strongly of the opinion that involving an independent mediator(s) is the most reasonable way to go if the president really intends to resolve this issue. Can we for a second imagine the kind of reportage that will be coming out of these meeting, with each party running to the press on each occasion to spin information and portray the other party as being the one not cooperating at the meeting or making unreasonable demands? How can we expect these two political parties to resolve an issue for which both are benefactors without an independent mediator that both of them trust?

“If the president has a problem with some international institutions and is of the view that it does not portray us as being mature enough to resolve our own internal issues, that could be understood, even with some difficulty, because these same institutions are those partially financing some portions of our election budget and institutions.

“UNDP, for example, was a major facilitator for the institution of the Peace Council. An outright rejection of the involvement of an independent mediator(s) is unfortunate and will most likely lead to acrimonious discussions between the parties and will further poison the political atmosphere”, the statement noted.

It continued: “Following the NDC Chairman's letter, which publicly accused the governing NPP of complicity in aiding and drafting into the security forces members of known NPP vigilante groups, the president vehemently rejected the accusations.

“Sadly, news coming in from one of the leading media houses in Accra has allegedly discovered that the Osu Castle, a security zone, and annex to the seat of government, is being used by some members of the NPP to train some of its vigilante groups. In this exposé, the leaders of the said group, one of whom is alleged to be a former personal security of the president, was clearly heard in a video indicating that the president is aware of the existence of the group and was happy about it”, the group noted.

“Some of the leaders were heard saying that the group has over 5000 members nationwide and has become a vehicle for recruiting personnel into the state security agencies. If true, the status quo is unacceptable, unfortunate and reprehensible and further casts doubts on our political elite’s commitment to the security of the state and its citizens”.

The group is, thus, calling on the government, as a matter of urgency, to institute an independent investigation to ascertain the veracity of the claims made in the documentary by the media house, adding that: “Ghana deserves better”.

The group also noted that from a broader standpoint, it believes that limiting the current debate to getting politicians to commit to disbanding militias they themselves have “created, financed and sponsored and not looking at the bigger picture of other illegal private militias such as ‘landguardism’, pastor’s protection guards etc., will not lead to a holistic approach in eliminating this menace from our social fabric. This broadened perspective of the problem brings to the fore peculiar issues associated with the land tenure system, private land ownership, chieftaincy, traditional ownership of lands etc., as these have become candidate beneficiaries of illegal private militias in our country.”

The group said it is of the firm belief that if all the campaigns by various well-meaning Ghanaians in the media, civil society organisations among others, to support the work of the Justice Emile Short Commission does not lead first to “the identification of the most fundamental root causes of this menace and then to the total elimination of these, then this whole debate and effort of the Justice Emile Short Commission would have either been a waste of our time and resources, or, at best, a window-dressing of the issues” and “believes the conversation must shift from the current political militias, which, in itself, is taking on different dimensions by the day to the following;

1. Total reformation of our security architecture, investigative architecture and our criminal jurisprudence to free the Police, EOCO, National Security, Special Prosecutor and the Attorney General from any form of political influence

2. Begin the bigger conversation of ‘landguardism’, political vigilantism, the operations of illegal private militias, and its concomitant derivatives, a phenomenon that affects the citizenry on a daily basis

3. Creating an environment that allows private investigative bodies like Tiger Eye PI to flourish and be available for use by private citizens.

4. To create the legal framework that allows private security companies who offer private personal security services to citizens who need their services to operate.

“It’s our belief that the media, who are leading this crusade, must look at the bigger issues of private militias in totality and help us properly focus the debate to enable us to proffer the right solutions to resolving these challenges including the eminent amendments of some portions of our constitution. Our CSOs, the Peace Council, and our chieftaincy institutions should all get into the space to help us find a lasting solution to this issue of private militia and political vigilantism.”

“Our collective effort in the proper contextualisation of this campaign will not only help us resolve a fundamental weakness of our security architecture in our current Constitution but would have created the foundation to build on the debate and expanding it to other very important constitutional issues that currently draw our multiparty democracy back.

“The upcoming single ticket referendum gives us a glorious opportunity to resolve some of the obviously glaring weaknesses in the 1992 Constitution. There can never be a better opportunity to demonstrate the president’s credentials as a true patriot and a great human right advocate”.

The Eagles Forum expressed the hope that President Nana Akufo-Addo “will show great leadership in this matter and steer the country out of these increasingly burning issues with the potential to derail the gains we have made in our multiparty democratic dispensation till date.”

Source: Ghana/

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