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The militia, nomenclature and the silence on sanctions

The militia, nomenclature and the lack of prosecution

The government of Ghana said it felt vindicated when the NMC ruled to sustain the state’s argument that the Joy News documentary Militia in the Heart of the Nation had a misleading advertisement.

The commission claimed the use of a background that showed the worrying activities of militia groups in the country was unethical. Joy News has contested the ruling.But while the government claims vindication, there are questions about sanctions for those who allowed the commander Nana Wireko Addo alias Choman and his team of young men and women to operate at the former seat of government.

In the documentary Joy News established the presence of the group operating illegally at the former seat of government. The state did not contest this, except to say that the people were “a group of young men and women, dressed up in white shirts and black suits, converging at the Castle, Osu, in the belief that jobs will be found for them.”

At a news conference in March this year, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah indicated that the leader of the De-Eye Group, Nana Wireko Addo, had been appointed to retrieve some vehicles from appointees of the Mahama administration, finished the job in 2018 but decided to operate his own business from the Castle.

“After the completion of the work of the task force in August 2018, he subsequently converted the office allocated to him into a private business office for the stated purposes of his company,” Mr. Oppong-Nkrumah said. Mr. Oppong Nkrumah said the situation was handled immediately it was discovered.
“But it was quickly dealt with in October 2018 when he was evicted from the premises by a joint operation involving personnel of the National Security Secretariat and the Ghana Police Service,” he said.

But there are questions. Who was sanctioned for the presence of the people at the state facility? The government does not talk about who took responsibility and whether anyone has been sanctioned for allowing an unregistered security company to run from the Osu Castle. Speaking on the Joy News analysis show Newsfile in March this year, private legal practitioner Ace Ankomah said the eviction was not enough. For him, the state should have ensured the arrest of the people.

“Eviction means you can go, go and sin no more. But these guys, on the face of it, are as guilty as sin. But they’re evicted and they have the temerity, impudence, audacity to return to the prime real estate – the old slave fort – and then they have to be re-evicted. You see, the law just does not work in this country,” Mr. Ankomah said.

But this is critical because in the government’s own statement signed and read by Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah after the broadcast of the documentary there people had no permission to operate at the state facility. He said: “Admittedly, this should not have been allowed to happen in the first place.”

The group also admitted on its website that it was undertaking security training. Their trainers were ex-military men. It’s motto was “Vigilance and Protection”. JoyNews checks revealed that the group had no license to undertake security training or operations, a situation lawyer Ace Ankomah said was criminal.

Former GFA spokesperson Randy Abbey believes someone must take responsibility for the operation of the group at the castle.

“Is anybody being held responsible? So now the focus is on are they militia, do they have a disposition to violence? They’re not. But the truth of the matter is that, look, if you have a situation where there’s a running battle between a group and the national security, and on three occasions the national security is unable to kick them out and that it had to a reinforcement – a joint effort – it cannot be just a group of some idle unemployed young men and women.

But in all this the narrative by the government has been about nomenclature, how the people should be called – vigilante or militia -, but very silent on the prosecution of the group or sanction for whoever was responsible for the occupation of the group at the Castle.


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