Dominic Nitiwul, Ghana’s Defence Minister, claims that terrorist operations in the West African sub-region pose a serious threat to the country.
His fear stems from the rising number of terrorist strikes in Ghana’s neighboring countries.
The most recent attack occurred in Togo, where an explosion struck a car conveying security officers, killing many cops on the spot.
Dominic Nitiwul, speaking on JoyNews said, the increasing prevalence of these attacks closer to the country’s borders is concerning him and the administration, and that they are committed to preventing any such occurrence on Ghanaian land.
“Ten, twenty years ago, I would not have sat as Defense Minister, and if I had, I would not have imagined any terrorist strike.” Even though it would have been a security problem, it would not have been in my lexicon, and it is not anything I will be concerned about.
“However, six, seven, eight, or even ten years ago, especially from 2012, it was a serious threat to us.” I won’t say imminent, but there is a serious threat to us, to the point where if you profile what’s been going on in Mali and take a map and profile to come down, you’ll see a southward trend towards us.
“It began in the Gao region of Mali, traveled downwards into Bamako in 2013, and then into Northern Burkina Faso in 2014.” The threat has grown so serious that some of the attacks have occurred within 5 kilometers of Ghana’s border. And it hasn’t happened just once; it has happened multiple times along our borders,” he said.
He said that long before the terrorists took control of areas of Burkina Faso, the Ghanaian government had been adopting a number of deterrence methods to prepare the country’s security forces to protect the country.
This resulted in Operation Conquer Fist, a joint effort including the military, immigration agents, National Security officials, and the BNI, among others.
“So we did deploy the military to the north of the country in an operation called Conquer Fist, and we deployed over 490 soldiers there, liaising with National Security and, of course, the BNI, as well as police and immigration officers, all of whom were part of this operation and have been working there.”
“However, we see this as a temporary measure; we don’t expect it will be in place indefinitely, therefore we’ve been doing it.” We’ve been doing Operation Conquer Fist for the past four and a half years. However, we believed it was insufficient because the threat was becoming closer and closer to us. We did not deploy them at the time of the 5km strike.
“We knew the threat was coming down even before they penetrated the northern part of Burkina, so we positioned them along our borders to keep them safe.” A bulk of the security drills took place up north. So, if people are paying attention, they will see that the military will come up there every now and then to conduct exercises with helicopters and armored vehicles, and you will see a large number of soldiers entering the Gbele forest in the Upper West, and then they will go. “Then they’ll come once a year,” he explained.
He stated that because Ghana was the last of the southern coastal states to be attacked, it was important for the government machinery to adopt a deterrent stance in order to combat this actual threat.
“In our opinion, if we don’t look outside the box and establish a deterrent stance, we’ll be caught off guard one day,” he warned.