Security alert! Religious bodies tasked to enhance security at places of worship

The Ministry of National Security has cautioned religious bodies in the country to enhance security at their public places of worship, following the growing threat of terrorism in West Africa.

It has recommended, among other things, the installation of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras and engagement of the services of approved private security guards. 

The caution was issued through a letter dated May 12, 2022 which was signed by the National Security Coordinator, Major-General Francis Adu-Amanfoh (Rtd) and addressed to the religious groups.

Sighted by The Ghanaian Times, the distribution list in the letter included the National Chief Imam, Chairman of the Christian Council and the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference.

“ In view of growing threats 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 perceptional measures are taken by all stakeholders,” the latter said.

It said the Ministry was collaborating with the relevant State Security and Intelligence Agencies to institute measures to avert terrorist attacks in the country, but there was the need to enhance security, particularly in areas where mass gatherings are conducted. 

“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 .Treat as urgent,” the letter said.

To highlight how terrorists attack public places, the letter recalled that in 2013 -Shabab militants attacked the Westgate mall in Nairobi, leading to the death of about 60 people, including the late Prof. Kofi Awoonor, a revered Ghanaian poet and author. 

In 2019, a 51-year-old Burkinabe, Tibila Desire Bilgo, was arrested by the Lambussie District Police Command, for possessing a foreign pistol loaded with two rounds of ammunition, in a Catholic church at Hamile in the Upper West Region.

The arrest which followed a report by some church members, came on the back of predictions of terrorist attacks on churches in the northern part of the country.

Last week, a new report released by the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCE) warned of a possible terrorist attack in the country, saying although Ghana has managed terrorist threats over the years, “yet Ghana has been so close to terrorism.”

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, at a meeting of West African defence chiefs, said this year alone, 840 attacks had been recorded in the region, resulting in 2,482 casualties.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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