The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has made a clarion call for the rejection of presidential or parliamentary candidates who exhibit or support acts of violence in the December 7 general election.
The Chairperson of the commission, Ms Josephine Nkrumah, who made that call, said endorsing such candidates would erode Ghana’s democratic gains and throw the country into anarchy.
“What we must do is to reject any candidate who exhibits violent tendencies, acts in a violent manner or condones, accepts and encourages violent behaviour,” she stated.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic last Thursday, she stressed that aside from rejecting such violent leaders, they must be made to face the law as provided for in the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999).
Act 999 was enacted to disband vigilante groups, including political party vigilante groups and land guards; proscribe acts of vigilantism in the country and provide for related matters.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo assented to the Act on August 23, 2019 after Parliament passed the bill on July 23, 2020.
The act further provides that a person who directly or indirectly instigates or solicits the activity of a vigilante, facilitates or encourages vigilantism, or conceals a vigilante to avoid lawful arrest, commits an offence, and is liable, on conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years and not more than 15 years.
Ms Nkrumah observed that the pockets of violence that characterised the just-ended mass voter registration exercise was an indication that some political leaders wanted to feed on violence for electoral gains in the December 7 elections.
She, therefore, called on the security agencies, particularly the Ghana Police Service, to step up their game to clamp down on such violent activities for law and order to prevail.
“The security agencies must ensure that people who engage in violence in the electoral process are dealt with swiftly without fear or favour. It should not be the case that because one is a big man or woman they can do whatever they like and get away with it,” she stressed.
The NCCE boss said for vigilantism to be averted going into the elections, it was important for the security agencies to be seen to be dealing ruthlessly with perpetrators of violence.
In her estimation, that was the only way the public could instil confidence in the security agencies.
“When we had our engagement with many institutions and groupings, including political parties, on vigilantism, one of the biggest challenges was that they do not have confidence in the security agencies.
“The security agencies must act swiftly to restore that confidence so that people can go to them and report cases, knowing that people who flouted the Vigilantism Act will be properly dealt with and sanctions applied against them,” she said.
No voter apathy
Touching on voter apathy, she said the only way Ghanaians could show their disapproval for violence on the part of political leaders was to turn up on election day and vote against them.
“Do not allow your right to vote be taken away from you by thinking that you are unhappy with a situation and so you will not vote. If we want change, the best way is to go out and vote,” she stressed.
Ms Nkrumah urged all political parties and politicians to put the national interest first and accept the outcome of the December 7 polls.
“Whatever the outcome of the election, once there is a transparent, free and fair process, we should accept the results; that is the beauty of democracy,” the NCCE chairperson said.