Ghana’s anti-terrorism campaign; See Something, Say Something

By Dr. Nana Sifa Tsum, Communications Consultant

Ghana has been put on the alert against the backdrop of the security intelligence on a possible imminent terrorist attack on the country. This follows the widespread terrorist attacks in the subregion in recent times.

Neighbouring Togo has suffered an attack when assailants stormed a security post in the northern border village of Sanloaga in November last year. During the same period, there was another terrorist attack in northern Benin, resulting in several deaths and injuries. Between then and January this year, Benin has gone through a number of such horrible attacks, some of them could be described as the deadliest attacks with improvised explosive devices on a National Park struck. A soldier and eight park officers, including their French instructor, were killed and 12 others wounded.

Early this year, eleven soldiers in Côte d’Ivoire were killed with several others injured in multiple attacks in the first half of 2021. Other West African countries have had their fair share of real attacks or threats.

Terrorist groups associated with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Islamic State of Libya and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) present a threat in the region.

These groups have demonstrated capability and intent by mounting attacks against security forces and civilians in several countries, most recently in Burkina Faso and Mali.

Terrorist attacks in Ghana therefore cannot be ruled out, especially when there are suggestions from the information minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah that “intelligence reports suggest that some Ghanaians may have been involved in terrorist attacks in the Sahelian region.”

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. In the words of the National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaa “it had determined that there is a credible terrorist threat to all countries in the subregion” He has therefore launched a citizen awareness campaign to encourage people to report suspicious acts of terrorism.

The aim of this campaign, among other reasons, is to get citizens highly alert and report suspicious characters in the wake of terrorism threats suspected by security analysts. Dubbed the ‘See Something, Say Something’, the campaign forms part of the operational strategy to collaborate the efforts between security agencies and the citizens to safeguard the borders of the country.

If you see something, say something campaign slogan is a very effective one borrowed. This slogan was first coined by New York advertising executive Allen Kay, who came up with the phrase to be used by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for campaigns on city subways and buses for anti-terrorism and anti-terrorism crime efforts.

The purpose of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign is to raise awareness of suspicious activity that may constitute a national security threat and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement or security officials.

This is laudable and must be done alongside a behavioural change approach as the culture of the Ghanaians is not friendly to the slogan. The Ghanaian culture is deeply seated in avoiding escalated matters especially when it involves police and court and by extension, legal matters.

Citizens must be conscientious that terrorism activities could wreck a nation, and all efforts must be consciously made to prevent it. Threats to national security can come in many forms and early identification is possible, as in the case of Ghana.

By working together, knowing what to look for and what to do with the information we receive are also important in dealing with such security matters.

Everyone must be on board with this effort by the government to protect the citizenry.

Operators at public places such as transport operators at the various terminals, staff and passengers at the various airports, market men and women as well as customers, drinking spots, hotels, schools and colleges, and workplaces are all vulnerable and all must therefore be well-equipped with the requisite information as well as the knowledge and skills of information handling and dissemination to enable the play their important roles in the prevention of terrorist attacks in the country.

The introduction of the emergency toll-free number 999, and access to the security agencies with any suspicious activity information, is commendable.

This is because the latest figures on mobile phone penetration in the country are about 42 million.

An indication that some Ghanaians have more than one mobile phone, making it easier to use a mobile phone to alert the nation’s security apparatus on any possible terrorist attacks.

That said, the security apparatus must be swift and resolute so that information sent to them would be useful. With the will and commitment, we can make a difference, ensuring safety and security for all of us.

Read also:

Adhere to Security Ministry’s directives on terrorism- FOSDA urges Ghanaians


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