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How Ghana is dealing with terrorists threat after 10 soldiers were killed in Togo

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
How Ghana is dealing with terrorists threat after 10 soldiers were killed in Togo
Edward Asomani - Deputy National Security Coordinator

Ghana has launched a "See something, say something" campaign as part of efforts to help deal with the terrorists threat in the West African sub-region.

This means any person who notices anything unusual about the security situation, should inform the various agencies by dialing 999 (toll free) or use any of the security agencies phone numbers or social media handles.

For those who don't want to be identified for fear of being labelled as snitchers, the complaints can be lodged anonymously too, the security agencies have announced. You can as well report to assembly members, District Chief Executives, chiefs, opinion leaders, presiding members and community leaders.

Terrorists recently killed 10 soldiers in neighbouring Togo on May 11, 2022.

About 15 assailants were killed during the “terrorist” attack last week in the north of Togo that also killed the 10 soldiers.

Togo’s troops have been deployed in the north of the country to contain a security threat pushing south from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger where groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) operate.

Within the first quarter of 2022, the African continent has experienced about 346 terrorists attacks in various countries.

Out of these, 49 per cent of them have occurred in the West African sub-region.

"This clearly indicates that the sub-region has become a hotbed for terrorism", the Deputy National Security Coordinator in Ghana, Edward Asomani has said.

"And as the Akan proverb rightly say, when a neighbour's house is on fire, you prepare. We are not insulated from those attacks and therefore we think Ghanaians should be aware," he said at a press briefing in Accra Sunday afternoon [May 22, 2022].

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PHOTO: Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

Step up

The Ghana government has announced that it has stepped up some of the measures towards combating terrorism.

The security and intelligence agencies have been put on an increased awareness following the increasing number of terrorism and terror attacks and some worrisome intelligence reports that are closer to Ghana's borders recently.

In Ghana's northern frontiers for instance, some of the attacks have occurred as close as 50 kilometres. 

The government has said that increasingly, intelligence reports have suggested that some Ghanaians have been involved in terrorist attacks in the Sahelian region, signaling that "there has been the possible recruitment of Ghanaians by some of these terrorists groups in the West African sub-region," the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said.

Therefore, the Ministry of National Security has authorised an increased level of awareness among the intelligence community and seek to deepen engagement with the Ghanaian public in line with contemporary security practices as against the past where issues of this nature was not discussed in public.

"We are therefore at this point, specifically drawing the attention of persons within the Ghanaian jurisdiction to be more observant and vigilant about our security eco system and to draw the attention of the police and other security agencies and local community leaders immediately they observe anything, out of the ordinary."

"Of particular interest are non residents seen mobilising youth or circulating extremist material in person or virtually, with the objective of whipping up sentiments to attack people or public installations.

"Additionally, we are encouraging persons in the Ghanaian jurisdiction to observe and be on the look out for abandoned or suspicious packages in public places for quick attention of security persons."

"In the coming days, we will also be rolling out a full campaign, aimed at mobilising and providing persons in the Ghanaian jurisdiction with more security education," Mr Oppong Nkrumah said. 

"Why are we involving Ghanaians? The nature of the threat is such that it is not conventional warfare, they don't come in with APCs [Armoured personnel carrier for launching grenades] and fighter jets. They come in all forms, it could be your pastor in the church, cleric in the mosque, individuals coming in as  CSOs [civil society organisations] purporting to do community work," the Deputy National Security Coordinator, Edward Asomani said.

That means that we all have to be vigilant and also, "we know that the terrorist want access to the sea."

And according to the National Security, signals have been picked that Ghana is a target.

The "See something, say something" campaign will be launched on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. The line to report incidents and cases is 999 in addition to all other security lines and social media handles. Reports can be filed anonymously.

Those who don't want to call can go to their leaders in their various communities to report.

PHOTO: Edward Asomani

Mr Asomani said the nature of the terrorist attacks indicates that wherever they go, there is some form of natural resource there, particularly gold.

"So the question therefore is, if they attack cities, towns in Burkina Faso that has gold deposits, clearly Ghana would be an interest. This has been the pinnacle of the southward drift of the terrorists. We are clearly therefore a target."

"You need to report any suspicious activity that you see. 

"Our study of the various attacks that is happening in the sub-region, they usually exploit existing fault lines [ethno-religious conflict, communities that feel alienated or have grievances against authority]. This, therefore means that along our border towns, we have vulnerabilities there. So we are saying, if you see anything that is suspicious, speak to a DCE, approach the District Police Commander or a Presiding Member. Don't think that this information is innocuous. Let the security and intelligence agencies take that decision.

"Hence the 'See something, say something campaign'. We are of the view that when Ghanaians own their personal security, when Ghanaians are aware of their environment and conscious of their environment, it would reduce the threat of an attack on our country."

Mr Asomani said Ghana has a "robust security and intelligence architecture but it is not complete when Ghanaians are not fully switched on or are onboard with us."

"We are not panicking, we are on top of the situation but we need the help of everybody in our jurisdiction. Don't think any information is unnecessary.

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