Security analyst, Dr Kwesi Aning, is warning that Ghana faces a major security threat unless party militias are disbanded.
Reacting to a Joy News investigation that reveals the existence of a pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) militia that trains in a top government security facility, the security expert with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) said there must be a major decision to fully outlaw militias.
“Because they are in multiples; spread across the whole country, armed, trained, indoctrinated to perform particular services and more disturbingly taking into consideration the skills set that they have.
“They are talking about loyalty [to a political party] but they are also driven by more pecuniary interests, basically money,” he told Joy News Thursday.
The pro-governing NPP militia, De-Eye Group, trains and is headquartered at Osu Castle in Accra, a security zone.
Until 2013, the Osu Castle was the seat of government. Currently, it is an Annex to the Seat of Government, the Jubilee House.
Four Ministers of state at the Office of the President are housed in this building: the Minister of state in-charge Inner City and Zongo Development, Dr. Mustapha Hamid; Minister of State in Charge of Special Development Initiative, Hawa Koomson; the Minister of State in Charge of Planning, Professor Gyan Barfour, as well as Minister of State at the Office of the President, Rocks Bukari.
The Commission on the Creation of New Regions had their sittings there. And the Commission of Inquiry into the Ayawaso West Wuogon election violence also holds sittings in this secure location.
But it is where the De-Eye Group, militia group has been operating since the government took office two years ago.
The Commander of this group is Nana Wireko Addo, popularly known as ‘Choman’. The commander is former personal bodyguard of the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Joy News investigations have revealed that the group has two offices at this state building as the secretariat of the Group and another as the office of the Commander.
The Ministry of the Interior, which licenses private security agencies has also said the group is not licensed to provide any security services. Sources within the group, however, say De-Eye Group undertakes security operations in and outside Accra.
A private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, says it is an offence to operate a security group without any license from the Interior Ministry.
On December 7, 2018, the NPP held a ceremony at the Accra International Conference Centre to celebrate the legacy and launch a foundation of one of the founding fathers of the party, Simon Dombo.
This programme was attended by almost everyone who matters in the NPP, including former President John Kufuor, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife Samira.
President Akufo-Addo was the special guest of honour.
A number of ministers of state attended this programme.
De-Eye Group provided security at the Accra International Conference Centre. They manned the gate to the Conference Centre and were everywhere including the main entrances to the Conference Hall.
Members of the group were informed of this event three days earlier. On the day, as on any other day, participants were not searched. Our investigation team was with the group the whole day and followed them to the Conference Centre. Members of the militia group who attended this event were about 400. Those who did not take part in the security served as audience.
Monday, December 10, 2018, was the first meeting of the group after the Conference Centre event.
That morning, Fraser Owireku Kegya, one of the leaders of De-Eye Group who is referred to as “Chief of Staff”, addressed members of the militia group. He told them President Akufo-Addo had asked about the group at the Conference Centre.
A Deputy Chief of Staff, Samuel Abu Jinapor told Joy News that, Nana Wireko Addo, aka, Choman, had indeed been Nana Akufo-Addo’s personal bodyguard, but the President does not know about the group. Mr Jinapor also denied any knowledge of the Christiansborg Castle being used as a training ground for the group.
“Saying that a vigilante group is being trained at the Osu [Christiansborg] Castle is like saying the group is being trained at the Jubilee House because that is the Jubilee House [Presidency] Annex,” Mr Jinapor said.
Joy News found that National Security officials know about the existence of the group. Sources within De-Eye Group told Joy News the National Security Operations Director, Col. Michael Opoku, had attempted to stop the group from operating from the Castle but failed. At one of the meetings in 2018, Nana Wireko Addo told members of the group that the National Security Secretariat had tried to undermine the group and had often sent spies to find fault with their operations at the Osu Castle.
A research conducted as part of this investigation reveals this group existed before Akufo-Addo won power. In June 2012, a Daily Guide publication headlined, “Vigilante Group Vows to Protect Ballot” said De-Eye Group had been formed in 2009 by Choman, Nana Akufo-Addo’s personal bodyguard.
“The ‘Eye Vigilante’ group is made up of energetic male and female NPP members across the country whose primary target is to protect NPP members against any attacks by lawless people,” the report said.
In 2018, the Chief of Staff of the Group, Fraser Owireku Kegya, told TV3 in an interview that the group had a membership of over 5000 youth. Leaders of the Group say they facilitate the drafting of members of the group into the security agencies.
Warning against lawlessness
Both the Commander and Chief of Staff of the group have on different occasions warned members of the group against acts of lawlessness, but it appears some of them are often engaged in criminal acts and often have brushes with the law. Here is the Chief of Staff in one of the morning meetings.
On another occasion, one of the trainers congratulated the group because that weekend, no member of the group was arrested by the police.
De-Eye Group is divided into four units – Alpha, Chalie, Delta, and the Special Unit. They meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sometimes there are up to 400 of them in the Castle. They wear black suits and white shirts. It appears a number of top government officials and ministers in the Akufo-Addo government know about this group and its operations, but those we have contacted declined comment to on the matter.
The Christiansborg Castle is still a security Zone and Cameras are not allowed here. The National Security Ministry and the National Security Secretariat know about this group because the Castle is currently protected by operatives of the National Security Council and the police. Vehicles at the Presidency and others also refuel from a station at the Christiansborg Castle, Osu where the Group operates.
The Group’s weekly activities in the Christiansborg Castle are open, often between 7 and 12 noon and they go there in hundreds. At their last meeting in 2018, they held a party deep into the night.
Apart from using the park of the Christiansborg Castle for training, De-Eye Group and its leader have two offices in this important state building. The question is who gave them this building? And who at the top intervened, when the National Security ministry drove them out of the Castle?