If I were in charge of State Security… An Owula Mangortey observation.
I am a Citizen.
I research, write and speak on Military and other Security Sector Operations.
From the end of August to mid-September, 2021, I was in the Upper East Region to observe Ghanaian Officials’ security-related deployments for the spillage of water from Burkina Faso Kompienga and Bagre dams.
As the Burkinabe authorities were vacillating on the spillage because the Bagre Dam (for example) was not hitting the spillage level of 234.75 metres, I took the opportunity to drive around to observe Police operations in selected communities in all the Districts and Municipalities of the Upper East Region.
Fellow Ghanaians, from my observations, I would state that if I were in charge of State Security, I would pay very close attention to, and provide adequate support for, Police Operations in the Upper East Region by taking the following actions with immediate effect:
(1) I would ensure that experienced Police Personnel transferred from the Upper East Region are replaced immediately. I would advise the IGP that with immediate effect, no Police Personnel should be transferred from the Upper East Region without evidence of a replacement.
(2). I would ensure that the Fumbisi-Builsa area gets a District Police Commander.
(3). I would ensure that I resolve the local disagreements in the Tempane District which are stopping the commissioning and use of the newly and nicely constructed Police station at Woriyanga.
(4). I would ensure that the Telecoms work on providing a communication network in the 3-km-stretch of land between Woriyanga and the Togo border so that the Immigration/Police/Military Personnel could move their border posts further away from their present location at Woriyanga.
(5). I would procure and/or request philanthropists to donate some twenty (20) motorcycles (jungle type) for Police patrols, especially in Bolgatanga Central Bawku Central and Bawku West.
(6). I would provide funding for paid informants. And I would embark on a sensitization drive to encourage communities to be vigilant and report what goes on around them.
(7). I would provide extra motivation for the Upper East Regional Police Commander and his “boys.”
(8). I would ensure that joint Police/Military Patrols take place in Bolgatanga Central, Bawku Central and Bawku West.
Fellow Ghanaians, the Upper East Region is bordered by Togo and Burkina Faso and it faces peculiar security challenges including the following: Threats from extremists and terrorists, armed robbery, targetted assassination, hoarding of caches of arms by feuding families/communities, motorcycles snatching, smuggling, small arms and human trafficking, etc.
As part of the Northern Border Defence Project, the Ghana Army is beefing up security in the region by setting up its Camp at Bazua and its OPS HQ at Zaare in Bolgatanga Central. It has bases and presence at Polimakom, Mognori, Paga and Bawku. It stations a Miltary tank at Doba on the Bolgatanga- Navrongo road.
However, the Military is new to the Region and it is likely to face expected setting up challenges. It is likely that lack of manpower and resources will slow down rapid Military deployments along the long stretch of approved and unapproved routes at critical areas like Kulungugu, Sapeliga, Budugu, Galaka, Namoo, Nakolo, Chiana, etc.
In the interim, I would suggest increased funding
for Miltary Intelligence gathering and acquisition of drones to help the Military compensate for its apparent slowness in deployment in the Region.
On 29th August, there was information about likely terrorist movements in the Region and the Military had to deploy some extra men and cobra vehicles to the Y-Junction at Garu. There were reports that some twenty (20) foreign nationals were arrested.
I wondered how terrorists could infiltrate from Togo when there is supposed to be a Military/Police/Immigration presence at Woriyanga near the Togo border. I went to the Tempane District to do on-the-ground checks.
I found that it is 5 km distance from Garu to Tempane, and it is 9km from Tempane to Woriyanga. It is 3 km from Woriyanga to the river which is the boundary between Ghana and Togo.
At Woriyanga, I saw only two (2) Immigration Officials at the post. I noted with surprise that the Immigration post and “barrier” is located three (3) km from the river which serves as a boundary between Ghana and Togo.
I found that within that stretch of land between the border and the Immigration post are located Ghanaian villages, namely, Bimpiella No.1, Bimpiella No.2, and Bimpiella No.3.
I learned with a sense of surprise and shame that if the Immigration and other Security Officials relocate anywhere beyond their current locations, they would not have telecommunication access to enable them to communicate with and relay information to their Commanders at Garu or Misiga or Polimakom or Bawku.
What are the security implications?
It is likely that an extremist or terrorist or armed robber could conveniently cross over to any of the Ghanaian communities and use unapproved routes to go through the Tempane District to the Garu District.
At Woriyanga, I saw a nice and newly constructed Police station with donkeys, cattle and goats tethered and grazing around the building. There were no Police Personnel there, and there were no Police activities all the way from Woriyanga to Tempane and to Garu. Even Tempane, the District Capital, has no Police station.
I would request the General Officer Commanding the Northern Command of the Ghana Army to seek explanations from the Head of the Military in the Upper East Region on the whereabouts of soldiers at the Woriyanga base. I did not see any soldiers at post. I saw what appeared to be an abandoned Military tent.
The Ministry of Local Government and the Tempane District Assembly have serious questions to answer on the whereabouts of the Woriyanga-based soldiers, and also for their part in the serious security failure in the Tempane District.
I noted the impressive efforts and attention to details put in by the Police before, during and after the 12th September, 2021 visit of President Akufo Addo to Bolgatanga to address the Conference of the Ghana Bar Association.
I noted the Police patrols in and check points on the Bolgatanga-Bawku and Bolgatanga-Navrongo roads.
I was particularly impressed with the good work of the Police Patrols in the following areas:
(1). Bolgatanga to Pwalugu
(2). Bolgatanga to Zambrongo
(3). Bolgatanga to Kongo
(4). The Gbane mining area
(5). Bolgatanga Central.
I felt sorry for the Police on the stretch of road from Garu to Nankpanduri (in the North East Region).
I noted the strategically located Police stations at Pelungu, Widana and at a village in the Binduri District (some 7km from Goil station at Bawku). The newly commissioned Pelungu Police station is likely to deal with the incidence of armed robbery in the communities along the road from the Pwalugu area which passes through the Talensi and Nandam Disticts to link Kongo on the Bolgatanga-Bawku road.
I noted the Police market escorts that ensure that traders are provided security during and after trading activities to prevent them from being robbed. I noted the usefulness of such Police market escorts on the Binaba to Tiili, and the Sapeliga to Kobore roads in the Bawku West District, and on the Fumbisi-Sandema-Chuchuliga roads.
I took notes as I went on day and night (very risky) drive through communities on the following roads:
(A). Bawku Division
(1). Misiga to Garu
(2). Garu to Nankpanduri
(3). Garu to Tempane
(4). Tempane to Woriyanga
(5). Misiga to Pusiga to Polimakom and Widana
(6). Misiga to Kulungugu
(7). Bawku to the Mognori river
(8). Kobore to Sapeliga to Galaka
(9). Zebilla to Binaba
(10). Binaba to Tiili
(11). Zebila to Budugu
(12). Bawku to Bolgatanga
(B). Navrongo Division
(1). Navrongo to Chuchuliga
(2). Chuchuliga to Sandema
(3). Chuchuliga to Chiana
(5). Chiana to Banu
(6). Sandema to Fumbisi
(7). Navrongo to Paga
(8). Paga to Nakolo
(9). Paga to Nania
(C). Bolgatanga Division
(1). Kongo to Pelungu
(2). Pelungu to Zanerigu to Zuarungu
(3). Bolgatanga to Bongo
(4). Bongo to Namoo
(5). Bolgatanga to Tongo to Pwalugu.
For tactical, security and operational reasons, I do not intend to put my observations in the public domain.
If would take action on them if I were in charge of State Security.
I shall return.
Owula Mangortey is a Panelist on Fridays (8.30-10.00 AM) on #asaasebreakfastshow, Asaase Radio 99.5 FM