Wuogon Report: Vigilante Groups Not “Militias” – Gov’t Rejects Short Commission Tag

The government of Ghana has rejected the description of vigilante groups as ‘militias’ by a member of the Commission of Inquiry set up to look into the causes of the violence that characterised the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on 31 January 2019.

During the month-long hearing, a member of the Commission, Prof Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, said calling the illegal activities of such groups political vigilantism was to give them a noble name and dignify their acts.
“We call bribes by fond names and stop seeing them as bad. We call these things political vigilantism and we don’t appreciate how bad they are. It is plain ‘warlordism’. They are militias and not political vigilantes”, she said.

“If we don’t take the matter in hand and confront them as such and we take the position that when they commit an offence they will be dealt with it, I’m afraid you would have bred a dragon that you cannot control when things come to a head,” she added.

The government’s white paper on the Commission’s findings, however, said: “The government accepts the Commission’s recommendation in paragraph 10.4 on page 60 of the Report insofar as it relates to vigilantism and hooliganism.

“As stated above, the government is unable to accept the use of the word “militia” by the Commission.

“The government states further that this recommendation has been overtaken by events in the light of the passage of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999), initiated by the President of the Republic to disband and prohibit vigilante groups ad their activities.”

The Commission set up by the government was among other things mandated “to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to the events and associated violence that occurred during the Aysawaso West Wuogon by-election.”

The Commission took testimonies of principal witnesses in the matter including the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Mr Sam George; the Commander of the National Security SWAT team, DSP Samuel Azugu; and the then-NDC parliamentary candidate, Delali Kwasi Brempong.

The Commission interviewed over 20 other witnesses and persons of interest over a three-week period.