Allocate funds to conflict prevention – Peace Council Urges MMDAs   

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National Peace Council Training

The National Peace Council has called on the the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to allocate part of their Common Fund to conflict prevention in their administrative areas.

The Regional Executive Secretary of the Central Regional Peace Council, Mr. Charles Ohene- Amoh said that when conflict erupts in any part of the country, the government spends a lot of resources by deploying the police and military taskforce to keep the peace in the troubled areas. There is the need for paradigm shift from conflict resolution to conflict prevention. It is costlier to resolve conflict than to prevent it. The Metropolitan, Municipal, District Chief Executives(MMDCEs) whose role is to ensure peace and security to accelerate development in their areas must endeavour to invest in conflict prevention as it would go a long way to save the MMDAs from incurring huge expenditure as a result of outbreaks of conflicts.

He made the call at a one-day advocacy and sensitization programme organized by the Effutu Municipal Peace Council for political parties, youth groups and opinion leaders at Apam in the Gomoa West District of the Central Region last Tuesday.

He said as part of efforts to drive home Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999), the council is creating awareness of the stakeholders, particularly the youths to be well informed about the Act so as to engender attitudinal and behavioural change.

He said without peace, there can be no development and it is important for the MMDCEs to integrate conflict sensitivity in their development agendas in their administrative areas.

Mr. Anthony Kombla Mensah, who is an Assistant Director representing the District Executive Officer, Mr Bismark Nkum of the Gomoa West District Assembly delivered the welcome address and said Apam is a relatively peaceful community with a record of few cases of isolated incidents of violence occasioned as a result of unfair distribution of resources and unemployment.

In recognition of the challenge of unemployment facing the majority of youths in the area, he said the government through the District Assembly has introduced employment opportunities through Nation’s Builders’ Corps(NABCOs), Planting for Food and Jobs, One Factory One District (1F1D), Planting for Export and Rural Development among many others to stem the tide.

On peace and security of the area, he indicated that the District Security Committee (DISEC) over the years has played a pivotal role in settling disputes, picking up intelligence and early warning signs of potential conflicts and quickly resolving them before they become full-fledged conflicts. He said the DISEC and security agencies are on high alert in the district; hence, citizens are given assurance of adequate protection to carry on with their normal lives and businesses.

Vigilantism law

Mr. Ohene-Amoh, who facilitated the workshop, took the participants through the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999); Early Warning and Response and Conflict Prevention Strategies.

On Vigilantism Law, He said the law is punitive enough that any person caught by it will be dealt with according to the law.

He stated the law prescribes severe prison sentences for persons engaged in vigilante activities including land guarding. Thus, a person who is caught either, forming, joining, aiding and abetting, instigating, shielding or funding or with an offensive weapon attracts various degrees of imprisonments ranging from ten years to twenty-five years.

He advised the participants especially the youths to desist from taking the law into their own hands but instead channel their grievances to the appropriate quarters for redress. “When the vigilantism law catches up with a person, he or she will put behind the bars, thus wasting their productive years. In addition, he or she will be debarred from holding any public office or party positions, he warned.

On Early Warning and Responses: he said early warning is receiving timely information about future danger while taking actions to refuse the effect and prepare for effective response. Early warning is as important as early response. He cautioned participants against relying on fake news and false information to take actions but painstaking effort should be taken to verify all sides of phenomena before a conclusion is arrived at so as not to create problems for society.

Touching on conflict prevention strategies, Mr.  Ohene-Amoh said conflict is bound to arise out of human interactions and violent conflict is something that is not desirable. He highlighted the effects of civil wars on people, communities and nations by disabusing the youths of the notions about coups and civil wars in the country. He cited Liberia and Sierra Leone civil wars as countries ravaged by violent conflicts which offered useful lessons to Ghana. The young, the old and children suffered amputation through no fault of theirs” he recounted.

He recommended the use of avoidance as an effective means of conflict prevention to youths without resorting to fighting which could lead to violence in the community, saying that “it is better to flight than to fight”

Pledge

The Constituency Youth Organizers of both the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party, Mr Abeiku Essien and Mr Michael Fiifi Assan pledged to bury their political differences to work together in the interest of the area.

Advice

Sheikh Shafiq Abdul-Rahman, a member of the the Central Regional Peace Council admonished the participants to let Vigilantism Act guide their political activities in accordance with the law of the land. “When citizens are armed with the Act, they may not fall flout to it, he stated.

Story by George Oko Mensah

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