The Director of Operations of the Ghana Police Service, Chief Superintendent Dr Benjamin Agordzo, has cautioned that vigilante groups and macho men are illegal and would not be allowed at polling stations during the forthcoming elections.
He said police investigations have revealed that even the political parties that those groups declare their support for, had disassociated themselves from those groups.
“Vigilante groups are illegal and are criminals who cause fear and panic, similar to armed robbers, and the Police Administration will not allow such people to operate in the society,” he said.
Speaking at the National Stakeholder Forum on Election 2016, Dr Agordzo said the Constitution provided for only one Police Service and other security agencies and anything out of that “is illegal, criminal and unconstitutional” and needs to be condemned.
The forum, organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for actors of the 2016 elections, was under the theme: “Towards Credible, Acceptable and Violence-Free Elections: The Role of Key Stakeholders”.
Dr Agordzo said an Electioneering Security Taskforce, headed by the Inspector General of Police, Mr John Kudalor, was formed on January 20, 2016 in preparedness for the elections.
He said the taskforce was also put in place in all the regions and districts to ensure that the country goes through violence-free and peaceful elections.
He warned that in the course of their operations, the security taskforce would not entertain any interference from any quarters and appealed to the public to abide by the laws of the country as well as the electioneering laws.
On security reserves, Dr Agordzo said they were going to beef them up more than before, as all the security agencies were providing more than what they provided for in 2012.
He said series of training programmes for security personnel were ongoing across the country to prepare them for the task ahead and the IGP was on a regional tour to assess the preparedness of the security agencies prior to the elections.
Professor Kwame Karikari, the Chairman of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), speaking on the role and preparedness of the media for election 2016, stressed the need for the media to free themselves from political influence.
He said some of the “dirty media propaganda” were planned and rehearsed under the supervision of some political actors and it was about time the media, especially those who aligned themselves to political parties, put professionalism in play to avoid violence before, during and after the elections.
The media should put pressure on political parties to speak to the issues to avoid defamatory language likely to spark violence, he said.
He urged media organisations and associations to establish their own peer-review mechanisms to check performances of their members.
Prof. Karikari said every media organization has the obligation to correct itself when it publishes falsehood, and that they could do through retraction and apology.
“The person defamed also have the right to rejoinders or seek redress in court,” he said, and urged the public to equally put pressure on the media to respect the law to retract and apologise.
The Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop, The Most Reverend Gabriel Charles Palmer Buckle, stressed the need for Ghanaians to observe the virtues of honesty in their way of doing things and ensure that nobility became the watchword.