National Security Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah, has charged Ghanaians to be vigilant, in the wake of increased terrorist attacks in the sub-region.
According to him, the activities of terrorists have become prevalent in recent times, and therefore the need for all citizens to pay closer attention to their ‘personal and communal security”.
In a statement on Tuesday, May 17, the sector Minister disclosed that, based on information available to his outfit, Ghana has become a country of interest to terrorists; hence the need for all persons to be on guard.
“The Ministry is making a strong appeal for heightened vigilance in areas of mass gatherings, especially at public places of entertainment and worship, such as churches and mosques. The employment of guards, security gadgetry and lighting of the areas surrounding the areas of public gatherings would all help, but nothing beats the vigilance of each of us individuals, taking personal responsibility and looking out for each other.
This appeal is being made because there is good reason to believe that the terrorists operating within the region have Ghana as a target and there is need to increase security measures and engage the public to be more careful”, portions of the statement read.
“Many of our neighbours have unfortunately suffered attacks from the terrorist groups as their activities have spread from the Sahelian region towards the coastal West-African States. Our immediate neighbours, Burkina Faso, la Cote D’ Ivoire and Togo have all experienced such attacks and we have to recognise that our country remains a target as the security services work to keep us all safe”, the statement further revealed.
The caution by the National Security Minister, ties into an earlier warning by the Deputy Minister of Defence, Kofi Amankwa-Manu. According to him, ‘all is not well’.
Speaking in an interview with Emefa Apawu on The Probe on Sunday, the Deputy Minister cited a recent extremist attack in Togo; cautioning that, the attackers have devised very sophisticated ways of wreaking havoc, therefore the need for Ghana to stay alert.
“So we cannot sit and fold our arms, thinking that all is well. All is not well. And we need to prepare. We need to be vigilant. We need to really, like we say in Ghana, ‘shine our eyes the more’. Because if you look around, all the countries around Ghana, in one way or the other have been hit. We are the only country left standing.
If I say we’re the only country left standing, talk of Burkina they’ve been hit. Talk of Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, they’ve all experienced this bitter pill from these extremists. And when you look at the southward movement of these groupings, clearly, one thing is obvious, they’re looking to find a coastal country”, he said.
The concerns by the National Security Minister and the Deputy Defence Minister, are in the wake of a recent report by the West Africa Center for Counter-Extremism (WACCE), which says Ghana’s political stability may be disrupted, in the wake of terrorism in the Sahel and other domestic challenges in the country such as youth unemployment.
In a report by the regional security research organisation, it said even though Ghana has been relatively peaceful over the years, there is the likelihood of an upsurge, due to recent happenings in the sub-region, and neighbouring countries such as Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast.
WACCE maintained that the threats of political instability can, however, be forestalled if measures are put in place to prevent the impending dangers.
“The threat of terrorism is increasingly descending from the Sahel towards the Coastal States. Today more than 53% of all ECOWAS states are experiencing insurgencies. The pervasive spillover phenomenon makes Ghana’s border regions a key area of concern.
Recent attacks in Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast highlight the determination of the terrorists to expand beyond landlocked Sahelian countries, where the insurgency has devastated thousands of lives and property in the last decade. Ghana has a big number of prolonged unresolved chieftaincy and ethnic conflicts and tensions, particularly in the Northern regions.
The inherently high exploitative capacity of extremists implies that these vulnerabilities put Ghana in danger of terrorist exploitation”, a summary of the report highlighted.
The report further stated that “Many analyses project the pervasive youth unemployment rate of about 59% as one of the biggest risks. The present government set up the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) to absorb the high number of unemployed graduates, most of them temporarily. The growing joblessness has driven many onto cyberspace to live in an illicit economy”.
But on the back of these developments, the National Security Minister, in his statement on Tuesday, allayed public fears and concerns; indicating that there are plans to curb any lurking threats.
“We urge the managers of public places and gatherings to be extra vigilant. We want to reassure the public that the security agencies and all those charged with maintaining the security of the state are working hard to ensure the safety of our country and its people and we count on your continuing support in this endeavour”.
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