Are We Safe?

The menace of international terrorism appeared too distant from Ghana until the unfortunate murder of Prof. Kofi Awoonor occurred in Nairobi, Kenya last Saturday. Our airwaves and pages of newspapers seldom contain the subject of international terrorism, even when doing so is in our best security interest. Perhaps, it is time we stopped taking things for granted, given the ability of terrorists to strike at will wherever they please, regardless of how far-flung the destination is. In such matters, even the most sophisticated countries cannot insulate themselves from terrorist threats, US and Russia inclusive. In fact both powers have suffered terrorist attacks in various dimensions and remain potential targets. We have editorialised on this subject before in the light of our porous borders and the challenges militating against the efficiency of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS). The Kenyan story has justifiably prompted a revisit of the subject. While empathising with the family of the deceased, we think that all of us, as a people, should begin to take a more serious look at the fact that in a global village the threat of terrorism should not be taken for granted. Our own compatriot, among other nationals, lost his life following the decision of terrorists to strike in the most brazen fashion. As part of the comity of nations, we continue to deal with other countries around the globe and would never know when the evil men of bokoharam or even Al Shabab would be incensed by our links with their enemies and consider punitive actions as they did in Kenya. These are possibilities we should take onboard in our management of immigration and security issues in the short and long terms. In a country such as ours where our hospitality could be abused to our detriment, the need for every citizen and immigrants alike to be security conscious cannot be overlooked. How many times have we wondered how the fair- skinned illegal immigrants from Chad and elsewhere manage to sneak into the country and to turn our ceremonial streets into begging locations? With no travel documents in their possession, the ease with which such persons pass through our borders is amazing. Some would say they are enjoying the ECOWAS travel protocol, but we doubt if that is the case, especially when they as travellers bear no such documentary identification. Some mosques in the country are hosts to an assortment of foreign Islamic preachers. While we do not seek to stereotype such persons for isolation, the realities of the challenges posed by borderless terrorists should inform the adoption of fresh and better measures in keeping our country safe. It goes beyond dispatching policemen to the Accra Shopping Mall ostensibly to protect the facility from possible terrorists attack. Terrorists cast in the mould of Al Shabab and Bokoharam are more sophisticated and smarter than turning their attention to a shopping mall in Accra soon after a mission in an East African country. The issue at stake is more complex than this theatrical move.