AG Explains Release Of Delta Force Vigilantes Who Stormed Kumasi Court
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has defended his office’s discharge of some members of the Delta Force vigilante group who were said to have besieged a court in the Ashanti Region to free other members on trial.
Speaking to the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, July 7, Dame said the decision by the Attorney General at the time, Gloria Akuffo, was in line with standard practice when enough evidence does not exist to proceed.
The first government of President Nana Akufo-Addo was tested by the incident in 2017 that saw members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) affiliated Delta Force rescuing certain suspects at a Kumasi High Court.
Police arrested certain members of the vigilante group who had been accused of participating in the invasion of the court, and they were charged. But later, the charges were dropped, leading to a widescale concern about the NPP government’s commitment to confronting political vigilantism.
But answering a question posed by Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central, Dame argued that to discharge suspects does not constitute an acquittal of these suspects.
According to the minister, the prosecution lacked evidence that was expected to have come from the work of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.
“[The decision to drop the charges was] on the account of absence of evidence, and in the view of the Attorney General at that time, [the right thing]. And I am also aware that the CID was also supposed to continue the investigations, and they are still continuing the investigations on the matter, and I will perhaps ask them to speed up investigations,” Dame stated.
Ahead of elections in 2020, partisan vigilante groups were singled out by civil society organisations (CSOs) such as the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) as the single biggest threat to free and fair polls in Ghana.
The NPP, along with the National Democratic Congress (NDC), was approached by CSOs and the National Peace Council to disband these groups that perpetuate violence in their favour.
In August of 2020, representatives of the two parties told Joy FM that all vigilante groups connected to their parties are no longer in existence in compliance with the vigilante law.
The law, which came into force on the back of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, outlawed vigilante groups. Persons found guilty of vigilantism could spend not less than 15 years in prison.