So far, Ghana remains the only country in the West Africa sub-region not to have been attacked by terrorists, but the Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitwul, says this does not mean the public must go to sleep.
To him, it is important that the public looks for suspicious characters and report them to the security agencies.
He said even though government has prioritised security and is continuously retooling the Ghana Armed Forces, the public has a role to play by supporting security efforts for the peace and safety of the nation.
According to him, since security remains the government’s number one priority for a safe and sound Ghana, the armed forces would continue to request resources to defend national boundaries, combat crime and protect the public.
He said this on Sunday during a simulation exercise organised by the Ghana Navy, in conjunction with other units at the Nungua Junction Mall, as part of preparation against terrorist attack on the country.
The exercise, which was organised in three segments, also aimed at creating security consciousness among the general public, under the tag – “if you see something, say something.”
The minister said the simulation exercise was a demonstration that the Armed Forces are fully prepared, ready and equipped to prevent people who will attack or have the intention to attack the country.
Mr. Nitwul added that discussions of insecurity, particularly terrorism, have dominated national and international discourse because it is lethal and stalls national development.
He stressed that the West Africa sub-region has become a hotspot of terrorist activities, hence citizens are required to cooperate with their governments in order to contain the menace. According to him, “10 to 15 years ago, we will not have been thinking and talking about terrorist activities, but today we are.
We are determined as leaders of West Africa to rip West Africa off the difficulties that we are facing today, but until we can do so…whether you are in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Burkina Faso Mali or anywhere, join the government to fight this terrorist menace.
“You can never know who is a terrorist – that nice gentleman who goes to church with you, or who prays with you in the mosque could be the terrorist or working with them. So please watch your surroundings, report what you see, and help the security agencies.”
He advised the onlookers that, “Today’s exercise is an imagination of a particular junction mall that has been taken over by a group of terrorists. Please they are not terrorists. It is a simulation exercise. You will see the supposed terrorists as part of us….
“We don’t want people to make short videos of it and say there was a terrorist attack and soldiers came to like what happened up north in Tamale. This you can see the boys who acted as terrorists. It is just to give you an idea of what would have happened at this junction mall.”
The minister charged Ghanaians to work closely with the armed forces for “if you see something say something” to be realized, as it is believed that saying something that one suspects to be untoward, not natural, or strange could help save the lives of hundreds.
“Similarly, when there is an explosion like what was exhibited in the stimulation exercise, the public is entreated to move away as the first option, but not run to where the explosion has happened to go and take pictures for social media. This may endanger one’s life like what happened in the mining town that killed people.
“And, in an event of a terrorist attack, the public is advised to take cover, and not to rush to where the incident occurred, or else you might be a casualty. Therefore, being security cautious is a personal responsibility.”
The simulation exercise
The stimulation exercise – ‘Exercise Sea Hawk’ – is the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) Maritime Interdiction and Counter-Terrorism exercise that incorporated staff planning and field training for tactical missions and strategic effects.
The exercise was to test the men’s readiness and enhance their operational capacities to combat maritime crime.
So the first scenario was an arrest of a Feeder Vessel imagined having transhipped the arms and ammunitions from MV MAERSK CALABAR into the Tema Port
The last scenario, which the media had the opportunity to witness, was a follow-up of the previous exercises and the arrest of the Titanic bombers who were the engineers behind the arms and ammunition smuggling, piracy, and terrorism within the Gulf of Guinea.
Per the figment of Navy imagination, they were purportedly arrested while holding a meeting at the Junction Mall to visit mayhem on the country by retrieving the impounded arms and ammo by the armed forces.
The exercise, called Operation Sea Hawk, had participants like the Special Boat Squadron, Ghana Air Force, Eastern Naval Command, Amour Regiment, Ghana Military Police, Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team and Nay Aviation Cell.