The Upper East Regional Peace Council has urged opinion leaders, including Chiefs and Queen Mothers at the Kpikpira Community in the Tempane District, to be wary of visiting strangers with devious characters.
The Council engaged over 30 leaders on extremists acts that could destabilize the peace in the community and district and urged them to sensitize the community, especially the youth, to understand terrorism and its related crimes and guard themselves against being recruited by extremists to cause havoc.
Mr Ali Anankpeing, the Upper East Regional Peace Council Executive Secretary, said as decision makers, the leaders played a crucial role in maintaining peace and served as a gateway into the Community and it was important, they knew beforehand what to watch out for.
He said the extremists usually made their way to communities to recruit the youth for their activities as experienced in the sub-region and there was the need for opinion leaders as gatekeepers to understand how to identify suspicious behaviours, know what exactly has been identified and what to do with what has been identified.
The sensitization programme, which had funding support from the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), was part of the campaign, dubbed, “see something, say something”, aimed at raising public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and its related crimes.
Mr Ali Yaro, a representative of Naba Dazuur III, the Kpikpira Chief, said the presence of the Peace Council in the community would help cast out doubts among some individuals who thought violence extremism was something abstract.
According to him, there were some who doubted the possibility of extremists visiting the community but the sensitization had brought some level of seriousness for them to be vigilant and guard the youth against being used by the extremists.
Mrs Margret Kanfatib, the Queen Mother of Pisgong Community, said she particularly paid less attention to the issue of extremists.
“I actually had doubts because we hear it from people who are with us and so sometimes it looks like an exaggeration regarding how people are killed, including Soldiers, but with this knowledge now, l will be a leading voice by educating others to report on suspicious movement, especially by strangers”, she stated.
Mr Paul Bugre, a representative of the Kpikpira Tindana, noted that welcoming every stranger was a sign of courtesy and good fate in traditional societies such as theirs, “but it is time we become wary of who enters our community and for what purpose”.
He called on other traditional leaders to whip in line children who had the habit of making every stranger their friend and sensitize them on the need to be cautious so as to maintain peace in the community.