Marvin Obeng Antwi, Administrator, Counter Terrorism, Ministry of National Security, giving a presentation
Marvin Obeng Antwi, Administrator, Counter Terrorism, Ministry of National Security, giving a presentation

Enhance security at December-in-Gh events: National Security, GTA charge organisers

The National Security and the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) have urged event organisers to beef up security at all December-in-Gh events lined up for the festive period.

The aim is to ensure the safety of their patrons and the promotion of the nation.

The caution, the two institutions said, had become necessary due to emerging security threats in neighbouring countries and the Sahel region.

They gave the advice at a GTA stakeholders engagement with event organisers last Thursday.

The advice is in line with the National Security’s “See something, Say something campaign”, a citizens' awareness campaign aimed at protecting the country against terrorist attacks.

The campaign is aimed at encouraging the public to be vigilant in order to detect the activities of suspicious characters and report such activities and characters to the security agencies.

Since 2019 and following the introduction of the “Year of Return”, the country, in the last quarter of the year, especially the last month, has become the hub for vacationers and tourists, both diasporans and non-diasporans with packs of events within the holiday season.

Terrorism targets

An Administrator at the Counter Terrorism unit of the Ministry of National Security, Marvin Obeng Antwi, said event locations were soft spots and targets for criminals and terrorists due to the large number of patrons.

“Terrorists target everyone, they just want to make a name for themselves, they target VVIPs, the ordinary people”.

“From statistics, it is obvious the primary victims are civilians and ordinary people who constitute about 48 per cent, from January to September 2022,” Mr Antwi said, showing an analysis of some events in the subregion.

Terrorists also attack security personnel, critical national infrastructure, telecommunication infrastructure, commercial centres and the hospitality industry.

He said in West Africa, this year, there had been 2,122 terrorist attacks which led to the death of 1,292 compared to January to September 2022, where there were 959 attacks and 7,501 deaths.

“There are a lot of vulnerabilities and we are not immune to these terrorist attacks. There have been a lot of attacks on hotels and event locations, so you are not exempted,” he said.

Mr Antwi explained that terrorist groups thrived where there were existing disputes, such as chieftaincy and land disputes, unemployment, political vigilantism, porous borders, proliferation of small arms and illegal mining.

Don’t overlook measures

For event organisers, he said, overlooking some measures such as limited security staff, providing multiple exits, and access to parking garages, with little or no screening, among others, made their patrons vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

The state, Mr Antwi said, was performing its duty of ensuring a conducive environment for businesses such as event organisers to operate.

“It is your duty to pass reliable information to the police, invest in security measures and cooperate with the security agencies,” he said.

The Counter Terrorism administrator mentioned potential indicators of terrorist activities to include suspicious collection of hotel maps, photos, notes or diagrams with infrastructure highlighted, unusual inquiries about practices of a facility or a facility's supporting infrastructure for guests.

Mr Antwi, therefore, urged the hospitality industry players to be cautious of such indicators and prompt the security agencies to avoid any breaches.

Support 

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GTA, Akwasi Agyeman, said December was a busy month for event organisers in the country, and that the secretariat of the authority was ready to support them in relation to security concerns and anything that would ensure the smooth execution of all planned events under the December-to-Gh brand.

He urged the players to collaborate with the authorities to ensure all activities were carried out safely, “and at the end of the day Ghana will be the winner”.

Mr Agyeman said the authority had engaged the Department of Urban Roads and the Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service on how to ease traffic flow during the festive period.

He said the country was ready to receive tourists and vacationers for December-in-Gh activities, and “we will ensure all are safe”.

See something, say something

The Head of the Client Services Unit of the Ministry of National Security, Akosua Danquah Ntim Sekyere, who spoke about the See something, say something campaign, explained that National Security personnel would be at some of the events to observe developments.

She added that security was a shared responsibility and that event organisers must not hesitate to contact the police to share information on suspicious activities of persons.

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