Political vigilantism in Ghana: Motives, membership, and financing

Osman Antwi-Boateng, Mohammed Kamarideen Braimah

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This comprehensive study of political vigilantism in Ghana examines the motives, membership, and financing of the phenomenon and proffers solutions to combat it. We use a qualitative methodology of personal interviews with a broad section of Ghanaian political stakeholders totaling 50 participants. This included 30 political vigilante members equally affiliated with the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress and selected from the vigilante hotbeds of the Northern, Upper East, and Ashanti regions of Ghana. The other political stakeholders total 20 and are made up of: five public political party executives, five civil society members, five police officers, and five local district assembly members. The motives include institutional weakness, winning political power, and economic and group solidarity. Membership involves family and friends, former security personnel, party members, and unemployed youth. Financing emanates from political parties, politicians, and the business class. We argue that patron–clientelism is the driving force behind political vigilantism and recommend more legal accountability for patrons, particularly through constitutional amendments guaranteeing a fixed term for the head of the police and separating the roles of Attorney General and Minister of Justice. This is to ensure that the former can impartially prosecute vigilante patrons. Punitive financial measures are also recommended to deter patrons, backed by sustained public education and more employment opportunities for the masses of unemployed youth—the bedrock of political vigilantism. Related Articles: Akwei, Cynthia, Isaac S. Damoah, and Joseph Amankwah-Amoah. 2020. “The Effects of Politics on the Implementation of Government Programs/Projects: Insights from a Developing Economy.” Politics & Policy 48(6): 1161–201. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12384. Asiegbu, Martin F., Okey Marcellus Ikeanyibe, Pius Otu Abang, Okwudili Chukwuma Nwosu, and Chuka Eugene Ugwu. 2024. “Natural Resource Fund Governance and the Institutionalization of Rent Seeking in Nigeria's Oil Sector.” Politics & Policy 52(1): Early View. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12579. Debrah, Emmanuel. 2016. “Decentralization, District Chief Executives, and District Assemblies in Ghana's Fourth Republic.” Politics & Policy 44 (1): 135–64. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12146.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-425
Number of pages23
JournalPolitics and Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Africa
  • Ghana
  • Ghanaian politics
  • democratic consolidation
  • electoral violence
  • financing
  • membership
  • motives
  • patron–clientelism
  • political vigilantism
  • youth politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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