Free-spoken lawmaker for Bongo, Edward Bawa, has linked Ghana’s headline-grabbing surge of mob justice to what he describes as the waning public trust in the law enforcement agency- the police.
He remarked that the public, in open contempt for the rule of law and despite outcries from human rights groups against vigilante justice, had continued to drag crime suspects to its own gallows because police handling of crime-related developments had not been conclusive enough in the public’s view.
The Member of Parliament (MP) registered this concern when he donated prayer mats and some bagged foodstuffs including rice and sugar to Muslims from all the Islamic sects found in his constituency Friday to cushion them through the Ramadan (fasting) period. The donation coincided with a televised and globally monitored funeral in Ghana’s capital, Accra, of Major Maxwell Mahama, a young soldier who died in May, this year, in a daytime attack staged at Denkyira-Obuasi in the Central region by a mob reported to have mistaken him for an armed robber.
“I’m just appealing to everybody that anytime that we think that we have a suspicion that somebody has done something that affronts the law, let’s try to hand over that person to the security agencies, the police. I have always indicated everywhere that these incidents (mob justice instances) will [continue to] happen unless people begin to trust the security agencies and agencies that are to take care of justice issues.
“I also want to appeal to the police that when they hand over these people, they should do thorough job in terms of their investigation. And if they need to prosecute, they should prosecute. Then, people will begin to have confidence in state institutions and some of these things will stop,” the MP told newsmen at Bongo, barely days after an alleged witch had been lynched in the nearby Nabdam Constituency and a suspected wizard had managed to free himself from the clubs of an angry mob in the faraway Talensi Constituency.
Muslims in Bongo condemn spate of Lynching
Whilst showing their appreciation for the MP’s Ramadan donation, Muslims in the constituency added their voices to the strong disapproval that had met the recent mob killings of persons only said to have been pronounced guilty of certain offences without due legal process.
“We have been telling our youths to be law-abiding citizens; they shouldn’t take the law into their own hands. Let me cite the example of Mahama’s death. We all condemn it bitterly. We the Muslims shouldn’t involve ourselves in such bad attitude. That is what the Imam has been preaching to us,” said one of the Islamic leaders at the Bongo Central Mosque, Sulemana Asanka.
On the donation, he said, “On behalf of the District Chief Imam and his elders, we are very, very happy for this kind gesture. The gift [has come] at the right time. This is the time we [need] it most. We will make good use of them by sharing them to the [poorest] among us and among Muslims throughout the Bongo District.”
Grumble over Hajj selection and lack of Arabic Schools
The Islamic leaders did not just express gratitude after taking delivery of the items. They also made known to the legislator two major worries they appeared to have stomached for a very long time.
“One of them has to do with the Hajj (the Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca). For quite a long time, Bongo does not have allocations to go to Mecca. And we don’t know why? Sometimes, when they are to give, they would just do it anyhow, not through the [Muslim associations]. Selections are made by politicians, instead of the associations.
“That apart, we need Islamic schools in Bongo. The Islamic side is very, very weak- which is bringing Islam backwards. We are pleading with the Honourable MP if he could do something about that. We want more Islamic schools. We have only two communities that have Arabic schools- Bongo Central and Akundoo. We also need Arabic teachers. We have only two Arabic teachers,” Mr. Asanka pleaded.