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HomeGeneral News2024 Elections threatened by Serious and Organized Crime Cells – GII Warns

2024 Elections threatened by Serious and Organized Crime Cells – GII Warns

Anti-corruption body, Ghana Integrity Initiative GII is warning of an imminent threat of proceeds of Serious and Organized Crimes infiltrating Ghanaian politics.

The local chapter of Transparency International (TI) together with its collaborators on this fight, the Ghana Anticorruption Coalition (GACC) and the Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) fear this has the potential of compromising Ghana’s democratic credentials.

The caution comes after widely reported monetary inducements that characterized the presidential and parliamentary primaries of Ghana’s two largest political parties the New Patriotic Party (NPP) AND THE National Democratic Congress (NDC).

At a day’s workshop held to galvanize the support of community and political youth leaders; the Ghana Integrity Initiative reiterated how politicians stand exposed to the trappings of organized illicit and criminally intentioned elements ready to fund political campaigns in return for corrupt favours.

Fund Raising Manager for the GII Michael Boadi asked participants to be alert to a series of activities including, narcotic drug trade, illegal mining, money laundry and other trans-border criminal organizations wielding commercial and political ideologies, working in close knitted cartels and operating in sustained continuity usually with threats and force to achieve their illegitimate financial and nonfinancial objectives.

“There is considerable studies that shows that the cost of political campaigns in Ghana is rising. Between 2016 and 2020, the increase was about 59%. It jumped from a little over US$300,000 to US$693,000 to elect a Member of Parliament.”

“Consider the fact that if you take an MP’s salary of some Ghc20, 000 a month; it will take about three years and four months to pay off that debt. By the three and a half month time, the MP will be headed into another election and will be contesting primaries around that time. So how are they able to fund the elections?’’ he questioned.

Mr. Boadi pointed to the classic case of a legislator, then the MP for Nkoransah North Eric Amoateng who was busted for drug trafficking in the United States of America in the year 2005 and the inconclusive case of a Council of State Member whose company LaBianca secured discounts in import tax liabilities.

He pointed out that, ““There is a Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) study that shows that there are incidents where persons engaged in serious and organized crimes, get involved in political party financing.

“What that does to our election is that, it robs the country of the integrity of our elections and how free and fair the election is. That is why most of the time the outcome of the elections are fiercely contested by the two leading political parties,” he warned.

Combating the SOCs infiltration

Mr. Michael Boadi charged state institutions including the Electoral Commission which is seized with the responsibility to receive audited accounts of political parties and the Office of the Special Prosecutor, to delve deeper into the sources of suspicious political campaign funding.

“The Electoral Commission must take its mandate of receiving audited accounts from the political parties a bit more seriously than it is doing now. Let us go beyond just the presentation of their accounts but scrutinize where the funds the political parties are using, is generated from.

The Ghana Integrity Initiative further called for the media and the public to begin probing the beneficial owners of companies that begin winning contracts immediately political parties win elections.

“Fortunately, we have beneficial ownership disclosure clauses in our new company’s code. Let us begin to interrogate who are the people getting new contracts in any new regime beyond 2025 and let’s probe their contributions to the party’s campaigning,” Michael Boadi suggested.

Political Will

Mr Michael Boadi indicated that though politicians had been rendered helpless under the burden of finding money through fair and foul means to induce delegates and voters to win elections; the same political players were reluctant to pull the brakes for fear their opponents would still pay to outwit them.

They are very concerned because it is biting their pockets seriously but they come across as helpless. What they will tell you is that if I don’t do it, my opponent is doing it.

While asking the OSP to go beyond mere arrests; he challenged political parties to institute sanctions to bar the practice of vote buying so the illegal act becomes prohibitive.

“Let us bar it completely and when the sanctions are biting on everyone equally we will stop it,” he told Ultimate News’ reporter Ivan Heathcote – Fumador.

The OSP’s action of beginning to arrest people who engage in vote buying and vote selling is a laudable thing but let it not just stop at the arrest. When the OSP begins to prosecute people and the cost of engaging in vote buying and vote selling becomes more than the benefit thereof, people will sit up and think twice, he contended.

Youth Action

In a statement read on her behalf, executive director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) Mary Ada underscored the need for enlightening the youth to take a decisive stand against the threat of Serious and Organized Crimes to safeguard Ghana’s democratic credentials.

“The youth within the selected zones are required to use the knowledge and tools to identify, report, and resist attempts to compromise the integrity of the elections. This empowerment is not merely a transfer of information but a strategic investment in nurturing vigilant and responsible citizens who will serve as the guardians of our democratic values,” she demanded.

Enlightened by the workshop, John Ankrah NDC Odotobri Youth Organizer decried the depravity communities suffer when politicians have to look for means of repaying their financiers instead of focusing on lobbying for development for their electorates.

“We the citizens have to know that after taking money to vote for a candidate, that person will have to recoup the money he invested during primaries and the electoral process. We must rather be focussed on the competence of a candidate than how much he or she can pay,” John averred.

A participating young Project Officer for Rural development focus, a Community Based Organisation in Sefwi Juaboso in the Western North Region, Nelson Joseph Bille slammed politicians for hiding behind the guise of offering transport fares, to buy votes.

“If they really wanted to give us T&T, then they should rather bus us to the voting centers instead of share money. We are only choosing persons who don’t have the right competences to pursue our own agenda of development. It fuels crime because if he has bought you, he can lure you into other crimes,” he fumed.

The zonal workshop organized under the theme SERIOUS AND ORGANIZED CRIME (SOC): A THREAT TO 2024 ELECTIONS” was funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

By:inewslens.com/Ivan Heathcote – Fumador.

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