Security expert expresses worry over SWAT team

Prof. Kwesi Aning

A Security analyst on Monday expressed worry over the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of National Security involvement in violence at the La Bawalashie during the Ayawaso West Wuogon By-election.

Dr Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, the Security Analysts said the creation of militias on one hand, empowered to perpetrate crimes and atrocities was worrying but even more disturbing, was undermining the statutory functions of the National Security Council.

He said “forming a quasi non-recognised statutory SWAT team was dangerous to security services and undermines loyalty”.

Dr Aning who is a Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, stated this in his testimony before the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission of Inquiry at the Christianborg Castle, Osu, Accra.

He said the functions of the National Security were very clear; stating that “It takes measures to safe guard the internal and external security of the country.

“Collects information relating to the security of the country; assesses and appraises the objectives, and the risks to the country and takes appropriate measures.”

Mr Justice Emile Short, the Chairman of the Commission asked Dr Aning for short term recommendations to ensure that the violence that happened during the by-election does not occur again in election 2020 and beyond.

Dr Aning, said that the La-Bawaleshie violence did not come to him as a surprise, stressing that the first step to ensure that Ayawaso does not happen again was to bring sanity back into the nation’s security system.

“Let’s know who is responsible for what? And takes whose orders? So that when the hierarchy fails somebody is held accountable.

“What do I mean? When we have statutory security forces paid for, fed, housed, transported by the Republic of Ghana it is crucial and important that they are committed and allowed to perform their functions,” he said.

Dr Aning said: “If the video footage I saw is correct, Mr Chair, I can assure you that as an ordinary Ghanaian the embarrassment that it causes because of the questions that were asked; is something that we should not allow to happen.

“But when we have statutory forces who do not know of the existence of other forces, who can be commanded to perform in the public space in the way that we saw, is disturbing”.

Dr Aning mentioned the lack of coordination in decision-making in the nation’s security system; “When we see the provision of equipment to non-statutory group that the formal forces don’t have.

“Then we need to come back to the drawing board and to say what is the order of the hierarchy for making-decisions to juxtapose our security forces to bring about harmony”.

He noted that that the break down in order of the hierarchy was one of the most serious threat if we don’t correct it towards 2020.

“Because what it means is that when somebody has served for 35 years either in the Police Service or Ghana Immigration, Customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Armed Forces and all of sudden sees the deployment of troupes, which you don’t know about, whose existence is not clear.

“It undermines the moral of the formal forces, and it demoralizes the potential loyalty of those forces,” he said.

He said: “Liberia just didn’t happen. Sierra Leone just didn’t happen. La Cote d’Ivoire just didn’t happen”.

He said it was these processes over time which undermined statutory institutions, which led to the outbreak of conflicts in those countries.

Dr Aning said almost two-thirds of Burkina Faso had been taken by terrorists and that they were coming down south.

“Ayawaso, I think we should be thankful it happened, because I think now, we can look at our faces and say how did we get to where we are? Dr Aning stated.

He also suggested that in a short term the nation needs to bring the structures back in alignment; adding that “because it should not be possible for a junior minister, any other minister to move those troupes, well-armed, well fed, well equipped with logistics to perform the way it did”.

He said what happened during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election puts the nation in a bad light in terms of the perception of the rule of law, respect for human rights and that it also demonstrated the tension between the security forces.

On political vigilantism, Dr Aning said there were 17 vigilante groups in the country during the 2016 general election, however, as at now there were about 26 or 27 of them.

They are: Aluta Boys, Delta Force, Azorka Boys, Bamba Boys, Green Mambas, Pentagon, Al Jazeera, Rasta Boys, Bolga Bull Dogs, Kandahar Boys, Invisible Forces, Dragons, Burma Camp, Ashanti Vigilante Group, Gbewe Youth, NATO Forces and Macho Boys.

He said electoral violence had become the most stable currency in the country.

Dr Aning said politicians were becoming emboldened in the establishment of vigilante groups in the country.

He said the establishment of vigilante groups, was creating economic incentives for other people.

On efforts to disband vigilantism in the country, Dr Aning recommended the involvement of the United Nations or the African Union; adding that the political parties do not trust each other.

He said the UN might also have the fund to support the efforts.

Dr Aning agreed with Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, a Member of the Commission that steps towards disbanding political vigilantism would include Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR).

Following outbreak of violence on January 31, during the Ayawaso West Wuogon Parliamentary by-election, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo setup the Commission to conduct a far-reaching investigation, which would sustain the peace of the nation.

The Commission has adjourned sitting to Tuesday, March 5.

Source: GNA

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