8:18, 14.Aug 2018
Muslim youth have been urged to shun political vigilantism since killing and maiming political opponents are against the tenets of Islam.
Delivering a lecture on "Dealing with Political Vigilantism: the Zongo Youth Factor", in Accra last Sunday, a lecturer at the Accra Technical University, Dr Shani Bashiru, said Allah had dignified a human being with knowledge and wisdom.
Therefore, he said, Islam forbade Muslims from injuring or disgracing fellow Muslims or adherents of other religions in the name of politics.
Dr Bashiru said vigilantism, which involved killing and destruction of property, had the potential of creating chaos and instability in the country.
He, therefore, reminded the Muslim youth that "Without peace and stability you cannot say your prayers with peaceful hearts.”
"That is why Islam is about peace. That is why we should be the front-runners in dealing with vigilantism," he said.
The lecture was the fourth and last of the series of the 21st edition of the M.A. Mujahid Annual Ramadan Lectures organised by the Ghana Academy of Muslim Professionals (GAMP).
It was on the theme: "Exploring the Changing Effect of the Fast of Ramadan for Sustainable Development."
Dr Bashiru said vigilantism itself was not bad but people used it for wrong reasons in the political sphere.
For instance, he said, vigilante groups protected ballot boxes in their strongholds, which was positive, but the same groups would go snatching ballot boxes in areas where their respective political parties were weak.
Again, he said, vigilantes played the positive role of encouraging people to go out and register in their strongholds but "they put bottlenecks on the way of people who want to register in the places where they are weak."
State institutions threatened
Dr Bashiru said the acts of vigilantes, such as attacking police stations, storming courtrooms and attacking and killing people at party meetings had the tendency to weaken state institutions.
He expressed worry that such people carried out their actions with impunity but they did not face any prosecution.
The lecturer said emboldened by that, any groups who wanted to engage in any callous acts clothed themselves in political party colours to avoid prosecution.
He, therefore, called for a concerted effort among politicians, religious leaders and other Ghanaians to discourage the acts of vigilantism in the country.
He lauded the government for initiating the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill, 2019 to criminalise political vigilantism.
The Programmes Officer of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Imrana Mohammed, urged Muslim intellectuals to connect with their communities to instil the sense of responsibility in the youth.
He urged the Muslim to emulate the peaceful character of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), saying that "Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was the best in character. You cannot be a good Muslim if you are not good in character."
For his part, the Spokesperson of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Arimiyao Shaibu, said people who had the fear of Allah would not visit mayhem on others for political expediency.
A tax expert, Mr Abdallah Ali-Nakyea, called for a change in the mode of appointing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to make the IGP independent to deal with vigilantes without fear or favour.
The President of the GAMP, Alhaji Yakubu Anderson, cautioned the Muslim youth against excessive celebrations during the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations to avoid injuries.
A Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Legon, Dr Rabiatu Armah Konney, who chaired the occasion, urged the Muslim youth to acquire skills needed on the job market instead of focusing on the so-called elite courses.