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.
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.
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
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.