The Ministry of National Security has cautioned religious groups in the country against possible terrorist attacks, stressing the urgent need for precautionary measures to taken by all relevant stakeholders at various places of worship.
The warning comes barely a week after the Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, had indicated there had been about 840 terrorist attacks within the West African sub-region, resulting in over 2,000 casualties, in the first quarter of 2022.
The caution was contained in a notice signed by the National Security Coordinator, Major General Francis Adu-Amanfoh (Rtd), and distributed to various stakeholders, including the leadership of the various religious groups in the country.
The notice said “in view of the growing threat of terrorism from the sub-region, and the expansionist drive of terrorist groups towards coastal West-African States, with a renewed modus operandi of targeting public gatherings, including places of worship”, it is imperative that precautionary measures are taken by all stakeholders.
Major Adu-Amanfoh recalled that, in 2013, al-Shabab militants attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, leading to the death of about sixty people, including the late Prof. Kofi Awoonor, a revered Ghanaian poet and author.
The Ministry, however, assured the public that measures were being rolled out to safeguard the peace and security of the country.
“While the Ministry of National Security is collaborating with the relevant State Security and Intelligence Agencies to institute measures to avert terrorist attacks in the country, your outfit is urged to enhance security, particularly in areas where mass gatherings are conducted,” the statement said.
The Ministry further noted that “these measures may include, but not limited to, the installation of CCTV cameras at designated places of worship, and engaging the services of approved private security guards, among others”.
“Although the above directive has become necessary, the Ministry of National Security assures you of our continuous resolve to institute measures aimed at safeguarding the peace and security of the country,” the notice added.
Before the notice from the Ministry, the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCE) had already warned of a possible terrorist attacks in the country.
According to a report released by WACCE, although the country had managed terrorist threats over the years, “yet, Ghana has been so close to terrorism.”
Speaking in interview on Asaase Radio last week, the Executive Director of WACCE, Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar, emphasised the need for officials to act swiftly to avert a possible attack in the country.
“We have seen the northern borders of Togo and Benin, we have seen in Côte d’Ivoire, and also the north and eastern parts that borders to Burkina Faso fall into extremist attacks,” he said.
Mr Muqthar stated that Ghana is the only country that is yet to experience attacks, stressing: “We have no reason to believe that we will continue to be immune to that if we don’t take adequate measures to prevent that from happening here, if you look at the local vulnerabilities”.
“We are looking at, presently, a widespread incidences of unresolved chieftaincy conflicts, ethnic conflicts and, more dangerously, the situation like Bawku has been left unresolved for a long time, and we consider the exploitative nature of extremist to take advantage of such vulnerabilities to either recruit or launch attack,” he added.
The report revealed that more than 13 Ghanaians were believed to have travelled to fight with terrorist groups since 2015.
“Up to twenty-three, others have been dissuaded from leaving to join extremist groups. Ghana’s first recorded case was Nazir Alema Nortey, a young university graduate, who shockingly left the country in August 2015 to join ISIS before sending a message back to his parents to announce his newfound cause. He was killed in Syria in April 2016,” the report said.
It added: “Even though the fatality numbers are presently down, from the peak of over 7,200 in the region in 2014, the threat has increased in complexity and geographical spread. Today, 53 percent of all ECOWAS have now been encircled by the threat. These developments are dangerous for Ghana.”