Threats of terrorism: GCBC, CCG urge churches to set up security committees with experts

Churches have been urged to be watchful against possible terror attacks
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The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) and the Ghana Catholic Bishop Conference (GCBC) have urged all their members to be watchful following the threat of terrorism in Ghana.

In a communique, the two bodies urged their member churches to ensure adequate security measures at the worship places.

“The CCG and GCBC are deeply concerned about the threat of terrorist attacks on religious gatherings in our country. We wish to thank and appreciate the National Security for their swift promptings of caution to the citizens of the country. We urge them to continue to be vigilant, especially on the borders of the country.

“We wish to appeal to our Member Churches to ensure adequate security measures at our worship places. We entreat all churches to set up security committees with experts who can educate church members on security awareness. Churches are also to set up security cameras to monitor all those who come in and around their premises. Moreover, we appeal to members who own houses and shops to be careful of those who rent them.

“Let us all continue to be watchful and report unusual activities in our communities to the security services. We wish to appeal to Ghanaians to remain calm in the face of the security warnings. The National Security has assured us that they are on top of matters. We however urge everyone to continue to be security conscious as we pray for the peace of God in our nation.”

Recently, the Deputy National Security Coordinator, Mr Edward Kweku Aspmani recently said Ghana is definitely not insulated from terror attacks.

Clearly, he said, Ghana is a target.

He explained that the terrorists have been targeting mostly resource-rich countries therefore, since Ghana is endowed with natural resources, it exposes the country to the miscreants.

Addressing a press conference on the measures that have been put in place to prevent the attacks from happening in the country, on Sunday May 22, he said “We are not insulated from those attacks therefore, we think Ghanaians should be aware. Why are we involving Ghanaians? The nature of the threats is such that it is not conventional warfare, they don’t come in with the APCs 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 purporting to do community work.

“That means that we all have to be vigilant. Also we know that the terrorists want access to the sea, the nature of the various attacks we have all seen in the subregion indicates that wherever they go there is some form of mineral or natural resource there particularly gold.

“So the question therefore is, if they attack cities and towns in Burkina Faso that has gold deposits, clearly, Ghana will be an interest.”

“We are clearly therefore a target that is why we are here today to seek the support of Ghanaians.”

Some security analysts believe the terrorists have already arrived in the country.

For instance, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Institute for Security, Disaster and Emergency Studies, Dr Ishmael Norman said Ghanaians must act in ways as if the terrorists are already here in the country.

In his view, some may have been married to Ghanaians.

Speaking in interview with TV3 on Saturday May 21 in relation to the caution given by the National Security against the potential attack on Ghana, he said “they are not just near Ghana, they are in Ghana.”

He added “…Some of them will even marry Ghanaian men or women. We have to assume that they are already here. The National Security warning is a good one, I believe the terrorists are already in Ghana.”

Following the activities of terrorist groups in neighbouring West African countries, Ghana’s National Security has cautioned churches against possible similar attacks.

The National Security said measures have been instituted in order to forestall these attacks however, the churches must also be on alert.

The measures instituted include installation of Closed-Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) in churches, as well as engaging the services of accredited private security agencies.

“In view of the growing threats of terrorism from the subregion 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 precautional measures are taken by all stakeholders,” a statement issued on Friday May 13 said.

It is recalled that a report released by the West Africa Centre for Counter Extremism (WACCE) released recently said Ghana has managed so far to stay safe from terrorist attacks on home soil, yet the country has been so close to terrorism.

Already, the report said, more than 13 Ghanaians are believed to have travelled to fight with terrorist groups since 2015. Up to twenty three (23) others have been dissuaded from leaving to join extremist groups.

“Ghana’s first recorded case was Nazir Alema Nortey3 , 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 new found cause.

“He was killed in Syria by April 2016. Professor Kofi Awoonor, a renowned Ghanaian poet and academic, was killed in the West Gate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya when Al Shabab fighters besieged the mall in 2013,” the report said.

The threat has been menacingly and quickly spread, occurring through a spill over phenomenon, has ravaged the Northern borders of not only Burkina Faso but also of Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo recently. With all its direct neighbors under attacks, Ghana has descending from the Sahel towards Coastal States in the last five years.

“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% of all ECOWAS now been encircled by the threat. These developments are dangerous for Ghana.

“Ghana’s proximity to these countries (Burkina Faso to the North, Benin and Togo to the East and Ivory Coast to the West) exposes the country to extremist recruitment or attacks or both,” it added.

It further stated that the “unending Bawku chieftaincy conflict, the ethnic tensions in Northern Ghana and the unresolved challenge of Western Togoland separatists in the Eastern border regions amplify the risks.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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