A youth pressure group, the Zongo Democrat has condemned what it describes as systemic profiling and social injustice against the youth residing in Zongo communities.
The group also denounced all forms of indiscriminate violence perpetrated by state security agencies against vulnerable and voiceless persons in the Muslim dominated communities across the country.
According to them, many youths in the Zongo communities have suffered from systemic intimidation, false allegations and professional misconduct by state security agencies simply because of their locality.
At a press conference held at the Ghana International Press Centre last Thursday, the president of the group Sheikh Mubarak Zakaria Hussein said security agencies are most often than not hostile and act unprofessionally when dealing with the Zongo youth.
He outlined some instances that according to him demonstrated prejudice towards Zongo Muslims explaining that placing the subject matter under scrutiny it was proven that the security agencies acted with dispatch to arrest perpetrators of crimes when it did not involve a Muslim and a Zongo dweller.
He cited the tragic death of the seven Zongo Young men gunned down by the police in Manso-Nkwanta, the murder of Ahmed Hussein Suale, the killing of Islamic scholar Kalamu Faida, the son of a prominent Islamic cleric Sheikh Abdullahi Maikano amongst several examples of unresolved murder cases which raises questions about the action and inaction of the police administration. He added that families of victims are usually compensated with cash to appease their loss when what they needed was justice.
In contrast, however, Sheikh Mubarak said suspects were quickly arrested in the case where a policewoman was assaulted at Changli in Tamale, the murder of Josephine Asante, the Public Affairs Manager of GPHA. As well as the murder of Mark Ofori, the NPP Constituency Treasurer in the Western Region.
Furthermore, he pointed out that in civil protest and demonstrations in some parts of the country that did not involve Zongo dwellers, the police notably used less excessive and lethal force for law enforcement and in many instances, not a single bullet was fired in the crowd of demonstrators.
According to him, the pattern is reinforced by the recent disturbances at Ejura which echoes the groups’ grievances towards law enforcement in the country.
Sheikh Hussein said although the challenges of Zongo communities are multifaceted however economic hardship, and its negative consequence is a major driver that exposes the youth to adopt certain unhealthy lifestyles and vices that prevents them from reaching their true potential.
He, therefore, used the occasion to advise the Zongo youth to desist from the life of crime and illicit use of hard drugs.
He said it’s unfortunate politicians continue to use the Zongo youth for all nefarious activities including being used as party thugs and security but drag their feet when it comes to initiating development programmes.
He emphasized that if the politicians truly mean well for such communities, they should rather build educational facilities and rehab centres to curb the indiscriminate abuse of drugs and other vices.
“We wish to strongly reiterate our call to politicians who engage Zongo youth in socio-political vices to rather establish facilities in realms of education, health, technology and sanitation to develop the Zongos, the same people they use as tools to achieve their political ambitions, “he noted.
He called on Civil Society Groups, the National Peace Council, the minority, and majority sides of parliament as well as the Muslim caucus in Parliament, the Clergy and the Office of the National Chief Imam and other relevant stakeholders to broaden the discussion on the professionalism of the state security agencies which is gradually eroding public trust in their integrity and competence.
In his opinion Muslim leadership in the country have made some level of progress with regards to confronting these challenging issues, however, more needs to be done to safeguard the rights and safety of the Muslim Zongo youth.
“We need to exert collective pressure on the state security apparatus as well as the government on these particularly important issues we have highlighted especially in the areas of major reforms in tackling protest and crowd control…. And the Zongo Democrats will continue to speak against infractions committed by the security agencies regardless of religious differences,” he said.
“We finally wish to call on his Excellency Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia as the Muslim representative in the high office of the President and the chairman of the Police service council to call out the actions of the security agencies, prosecute the perpetrators and demonstrate to his government that indeed, Muslims lives matter, Zongo lives matter and the lives of all vulnerable and voiceless Ghanaians truly matter,” he concluded.