The Methodist Church Ghana, in collaboration with the Greater Accra Regional Peace Council and National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), on Sunday, launched the “Methodist Youth against Vigilantism” group, to commence a campaign against political vigilantism.
The group, launched in Accra, was charged to promote peace messages at churches, communities, market places and via social media platforms, and musical concerts ahead of the December 7 general election.
The slogan for the campaign is, “Say No to Vigilantism, My Peace, Your Peace, Our Peace!”
The group at the launch sent a word of caution to the youth against vigilantism and its health, psychological, and social repercussions as well as the sanctions involved through a drama.
The Right Reverend Samuel K. Osabutey, Methodist Bishop of Accra, said humans differed in many ways ranging from principles, perceptions, religious beliefs and practices and social inclusions and it was required of all to accept each other to promote peace and development.
He said the Church found the need to sensitise the youth who were likely to be lured into vigilantism especially at a time the nation was heading towards an election.
Dr Afua Yakohene, a member of the Greater Accra Regional Peace Council, speaking on “The Need for Peace”, said the youth should be neutral and open minded about their future, families and put Ghana first in all endeavours.
“We are all different and unique and by pulling our strengths together, we can grow,” she added.
Dr Yakohene advised the public to indulge in politics of dignity and avoid name calling, bearing in mind the ‘Principle of Double Effect,’ where they could be affected by their own actions.
She appealed on all to adopt the value of dialogue to settle all forms of misunderstandings amicably, explaining that, dialogue gave an opportunity to explore the roots of crisis and deal with it to promote acceptance, consensus building, peace, stability and unity.
Mr Henry Attoh Okai, Executive Secretary of the Greater Accra Regional Peace Council, addressing the youth on the topic: “Vigilantism and Related Offences Act 999 (2019)”, explained that the act was implemented after violence struck at the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency, during a by election by vigilantes.
He said the “Act states that anyone found to be part of vigilantes and their actions shall be liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years and not more than 25 years.”
Such individuals shall also be banned from contesting a public or political party office until 10 years after serving their sentence.
On “Aiding and Abetting of an Activity of a Vigilante,” he said the Act directed that anyone who instigated or commanded a vigilantism action would be liable to a conviction of a term of not less than 10 years and not more than 15 years imprisonment.
It also criticised the funding of a vigilante group, stating that, anyone who contravened the Act be liable to a term of not less than 10 years and not more than 15 years imprisonment.
The Act also prohibits political parties from producing vigilantes, and holds any party which contravenes the Act to not less than 10,000 penalty units and not more than 25,000 penalty units. A penalty unit is GH¢12.00.
Mr Okai said the Party which failed to comply with the sanctions of the Act shall have its Chairman, General Secretary, National Organiser and Treasurer liable to not less than 10,000 penalty units and not more than 25,000 penalty units or to a term of not less than 10 years and not more than 25 years imprisonment.
Mrs Lucille Hewlett-Annan, Greater Accra Regional Director, NCCE, speaking on “Civic and Voter Education”, said voting was the civic duty of every eligible citizen and the only way to have a legitimate government to manage the affairs of the country.
She advised the youth to be agents of peace and sensitise their peers to join the fight against vigilantism.