A Critical Assessment of Public Administration and Civil Disobedience in Developing African Democracies: An Institutional Analysis of Mob Justice in Ghana

Emmanuel Yeboah-Assiamah, Thomas Agyekum Kyeremeh


Public administration exists primarily to enforce laws and the extent to which this mandate is carried out espouses trust among citizenry in the entire political system. The study aimed at assessing the relationship between institutional effectiveness and civil disobedience in Ghana using the specific case of how perception of unresponsive police and legal systems do contribute to mob justice. The study adopted the case of Nima Community in Greater Accra Region. The study sampled 140 respondents involving 40 police officials and 100 community members using the simple random and purposive sampling techniques. Semi-structured questionnaire was the main research instrument. Findings of the study revealed that mob justice is prevalent in the Nima community not that the people are lawless per se but it is an action to put ‘the fear of God’ or to deter potential criminals in the community. More importantly, mob action is perpetrated to ensure justice is given to individuals for their actions. The study revealed that whilst respondents view the action as barbaric and affront to human rights and the law, they are compelled to do so because the alternative is probabilistic. The study found out that, the absence or insufficient law enforcement agents, and the perceived unsatisfactory performance of the security agents as well as legal system greatly influence mob violence. The study concludes that people perceive the police system and law courts to be too slow in reacting to issues of stealing, crime, robbery and murder which to the people demand quick interventions; this suggests that the ability of the law enforcement officials and agencies to work conscientiously to the satisfaction of the populace does have a greater implication on how people obey the law and trust the legal regime. Put differently, if the police and law courts work effectively, professionally, and impartially, it will inspire confidence and trust among community members to report crime suspects on daily basis without recourse to mob justice. The study makes four main recommendations to help curb the phenomenon of mob justice.

Keywords: Mob justice, Civil disobedience, Instant justice, Institutions, Developing countries, Ghana

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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