Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul

The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, says Ghana faces a real threat from terrorist activities within the West African sub-region.

His concern follows the increasing rate of terrorist attacks in countries that neighbour Ghana.

The most recent attack occurred in Togo where a vehicle transporting security officers was hit by an explosive killing several of the officers on the spot.

Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, Dominic Nitiwul stated that the increasing occurrence of these attacks closer to the nation’s borders is a matter of worry for him and the government and they are dedicated to prevent any such occurrence on Ghanaian soil.

“Say 10, 20 years ago, I would not have sat as Defence Minister, and if I was, to think of any terrorist attack. It would not have been in my dictionary even though it would have been a security threat, but it would not be something that I’ll worry so much about.

“But 6, 7 years ago or 8 years ago, let’s even say 10 years ago especially from 2012 it has been a real threat to us. I’ll not say imminent but real threat to us to the extent that if you profile what has been happening, from Mali and you were to take a map and profile to come down you’ll see that there’s a southward drift towards us.

“It started from Gao area in Mali, and then by 2013, 2014 it has moved downwards into Bamako and it has then entered into Northern Burkina. The threat has become so real that some of the attacks are as close as 5km from Ghana’s border. And it’s not once; it has happened several times very close to our borders,” he said.

He stated that long before the terrorists took control of several parts of Burkina Faso, the government of Ghana had already started implementing several deterrence tactics to prepare the country’s security agencies to defend the country.

This had culminated into Operation Conquered Fist which is a collaboration between the military, immigration officers, National Security officials and the BNI among others.

“So we did deploy the military to the north of the country in an operation called Operation Conquered Fist, we deployed over 490 soldiers there, liaised with National Security and of course what they call the BNI and the Police and Immigration officers all part of this operation and they have been working there.

“But we view this as a short term measure, it’s not something that we believe that it will be there forever, and so we have been doing that. And over the last four five years we have doing that Operation Conquer Fist. But we thought that it was not enough because we then realized the threat was coming closer and closer to us. It was not when the 5km attack happened that we deployed them.

“Even before they entered the northern part of Burkina we realized the threat was coming down so we deployed them along our borders to ensure that they’re safe. And a lot of the security exercises were done up north. So the people if they’re listening to me will realize that once in a while the military will come up there and come and do exercises with helicopters, with armoured vehicles, and you get so many soldiers entering the Gbele forest in the Upper West, then they go. Then another time they’ll come, once a year,” he said.

He noted that with Ghana being the last remaining country among the southern coastal states to experience an attack, it was prudent for the government machinery to take a deterrent posture to fight off this real threat.

“So our view is that if we were to not think outside the box and set up a deterrent posture, we’ll one day be taken by surprise,” he said.