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You Can Do Better To Address Arms Proliferation - Experts Tell Security Agencies   
 
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25-Sep-2019  
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Dr Emmanuel Kwesi Aning
 
 
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Three security experts have entreated the security agencies to do more to address the proliferation of arms in the country.

Although the experts lauded the security agencies for the sting operation that unearthed an arms and ammunition base in Accra last Friday, they believed that there was a more threatening picture out there that needed to be tackled with all seriousness.

The three experts, who spoke to the Daily Graphic in separate interviews, were Dr Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, the Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs & Research, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC); Nana Yaw Akwada, the Executive Director of the Bureau of Public Safety, and Mr Adam Bonaa, the Executive Director of Security Warehouse.

Two of them — Nana Akwada and Mr Bonaa — contended that the government’s communication on the operation was exaggerated and could have been handled better, instead of causing panic in the public sphere.

Small Arms

Dr Aning said the country must pay more attention to the manufacture and management of small arms.

Equally dangerous for the nation, he said, was the stockpiling of arms, which needed urgent attention.

Reacting to the government’s statement on a purported plot targeted at the Presidency, he said there were three important things in the statement which should re-direct the attention of all stakeholders to the issue.

On the issue of the local manufacture of arms, he explained that there were more than two million unregistered locally made arms in circulation, hence the need to find out why people procured those weapons in Ghana and their continuous manufacture.

He said the country must learn to provide alternative sources of living for the manufacturers to discourage them from manufacturing small arms for sale.

He said it also called for a review of the management of stockpiling of arms.

Dr Aning said answers must be found to how the military-styled weapons found their way not just into the country but also into unauthorised hands.

He said another issue that needed to be addressed was related to the handling of improvised explosives and detonators.

He explained that the mining sector had been associated with the legitimate importation of explosives and detonators, but there had been recent breaches in some of the mines.

He indicated that for some of those gadgets to get into public hands meant that the country needed to review its stockpiling system.

Fighters

According to Dr Aning, Ghana needed to be mindful of the fact that some of its citizens fought elsewhere before resettling in the country and had thus possibly been radicalised.

That, he explained, provided an opportunity for such persons to be easily targeted for use in matters of disturbing the peace.

Having an understanding of that issue, he said, was critical to providing solutions for the illegal manufacture and importation of small arms, as well as addressing breaches at places where arms and explosives were kept.

Announcement

He wondered why the government chose to make the announcement at a time when the attention of the global community was on New York where the United Nations General Assembly was in session.

The announcement, he explained, had serious challenges for Ghana, as it had the tendency to affect investor confidence and the business community.

He said Ghana had a history of coups and, therefore, the announcement of a failed coup attempt was likely to affect its reputation.

Public Safety

Speaking to the issue, Nana Akwada commended the security agencies for their successful surveillance and retrieval of arms and ammunition from suspected culprits behind the manufacture and stacking of arms.

“The need for the security agencies to clamp down on the proliferation of arms in Ghana cannot be overemphasised and thus must be an ongoing concern to assure public safety and security,” he said.

He, however, expressed disquiet about the government’s communication on the matter, describing it as “poor and one that does not assure public safety, as more questions remain unanswered”.

He explained that from a classic public safety assurance view, the government’s statement failed to submit critical information regarding who the members of Take Action Ghana, the group at the centre of the alleged coup plot, were, how many they were and how the security agencies had or were containing them.

He said the government also failed to name who the collaborators were or at least the key players in the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and how many members of the GAF and their ranks had broken ranks to the plot.

“These are very critical to announcing a credible foiled attempt to destabilise a nation. The absence of these key facts challenges not only the credibility of the government’s claim of a foiled attempt but also its own appreciation of the gravity of the matter it is dealing with. On the back of the foregoing, the public is left with nothing but heightened anxiety or to completely dismiss or reject the government’s claim,” he said.

Nana Akwada said the Bureau of Public Safety, therefore, rejected the government’s communication on a foiled attempt to destabilise the country.

“We urge the State security managers and political authority to collaborate responsibly on sensitive matters such as this in the future,” he said.

Security Warehouse

For his part, Mr Bonaa said anytime an arrest was made and arms retrieved from unauthorised hands, it should be commended because it would save innocent citizens from being terrorised with such arms.

He, however, described as an exaggeration the government’s communication on the arrest, which pointed to a foiled attempt to destabilise the country.

He said fertile grounds were needed for a coup, and for that matter its success, saying that such grounds included the high unemployment rate and the breakdown of systems where nothing seemed to be working, adding that if the citizens were not ready, no coup could be successful.

“To call this a plot cannot be true. The government could have allowed the local police, not the regional police, to deal with this matter,” he stated

Mr Bonaa recalled that in October 2015, the Ashanti Regional Police Command arrested four persons, including a Burkinabe, for possessing and transporting a cache of ammunition to Niger.

He said the weapons impounded in that operation — 20 AK47 guns, machine guns and countless other ammunition — were much heavier and more dangerous than what were seized in Accra last Friday.

He advised the government machinery to tone down and allow the institutions of state to work, stressing that “government speaking for institutions is not good enough”.

Background

In a statement issued on September 23, 2019, the government explained that a joint security operation, which led to the arrest of three persons at Alajo in Accra last Friday, had neutralised “an elaborate plot targeted at the Presidency, with the ultimate aim of destabilising the country”.

The statement, signed by the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said the joint security operation of personnel drawn from the Defence Intelligence, Police CID and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) at the Citadel Hospital was successful.

He gave the names of those arrested as Dr Frederick Yao Mac-Palm and his two accomplices, Ezor Kafui (a local weapon manufacturer) and Bright Allan Debrah Ofosu, alias BB or ADC.

The suspects, it said, formed a group called “Take Action Ghana” (TAG), under the guise of mobilising the youth for nation-building, education, health and providing shelter for the needy.

However, it said, evidence available showed the intent was to build a support base of young people and radicalise them against the political authority in Ghana.

The security agencies also retrieved a number of arms, explosive devices and ammunition from locations in Accra and Bawaleshie, near Dodowa.

According to the statement, the arrest and seizure came after 15 months of surveillance and gathering of evidence on the activities of the prime suspects and others.

It mentioned the items retrieved from the operation in Accra as five locally manufactured pistols with magazines fitted on, one foreign pistol (Reg. No. PX154006) with two magazines, three locally manufactured pistol barrels, three smoke grenades, 22 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), nine 7.62mm NATO AK47 rounds, two AK47 magazines, one long knife and 63 pieces of nine millimetre NATO rounds.

Soldiers also arrested

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, in an interview on Accra-based Citi FM yesterday, added that some military personnel had also been 'picked up' in connection with the elaborate plot.

“The updated brief I have is that some soldiers, including at least one officer, have also been picked up. They are in custody and being interrogated in connection with this enterprise and when that interrogation is done, the details of that will be out and if some of them are to be charged, it will be done.

“The security agencies and the Military High Command informed us that they have it very well contained and that they are in full control,” Mr Oppong Nkrumah said in the interview.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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