Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, the Chairman of the National Peace Council (NPC) has called on Ghanaians to be conscious of the emerging security threats posed by violent extremists who may come into the country under the disguise of doing small-scale illegal mining.
He made the comment amid the Ministry of National Security’s calls for stakeholders to support strategies to weed out illegal miners and ensure that terrorist groups do not take over the mining sector.
In many mining communities, the wanton environmental destruction and pollution of water bodies are worrying developments of which communities will have to be more vigilant to protect their livelihoods.
While efforts have been made by government agencies, including the security agencies, and civil society organisations to clamp down on illegal mining, he said, the challenges wrought by ‘galamsey’ persisted and remained burdensome, sometimes with fatal outcomes.
Addressing a day’s capacity-building workshop on countering violent extremism for fishers in Central Region at Elmina on Tuesday, Dr Adu-Gyamfi appealed to Ghanaians to protect the peace, stability and integrity of the country.
The event sought to empower the gathering on how to counter violent extremism, terrorism and radicalization as well as conflict prevention and peace-building strategies.
Dr Adu-Gyamfi said the Ministry of National Security, had announced growing threats of terrorism in the sub-region and the expansionist drive of terrorist groups towards coastal West African states, with a renewed modus operandi of targeting public gatherings, including places of worship.
As a result, it was imperative that precautionary measures were taken by all stakeholders, adding that, National Security was collaborating with the relevant state security and intelligence agencies to avert terrorist attacks in the country.
He said: “This is the only country we have and everybody in this country must work towards the peace of our country.
“The threat of terrorism is real and those of us at the realm of affairs should intensify efforts to create awareness in our communities on the need for vigilance and support to our security agencies who are well poised to deal with any situation.”
Also, he assured that the Council was in border communities in three regions of the north and other Regions to create awareness of the situation.
“Already, the Peace Council has started engaging student leaders across the country to equip them with knowledge on signs to look out for,” he added.
He said the council had developed a questionnaire for religious leaders in the performance of their functions to ensure security in their respective communities.
Dr Patrick Osei-Kufuor, a Senior Lecture at the School for Development Studies of the University of Cape Coast, intimated that the engagement was to strengthen, prevent, manage and help resolve conflicts in our country.
That would be achieved by engaging different stakeholders and equipping selected youth to serve as peace ambassadors to promote non-violent ways of addressing conflicts.
He added that though Ghana’s place in the sub-region as one of the few stable democracies was a good thing, “it must be jealously guarded to avoid any act that could derail the democratic gains we have collectively achieved over the last three decades.”
“I think all of us must be conscious; this is a real threat to us, probably more threatening than the economic situation we are facing.
We must wake up and protect our motherland and the interest of our children. We should be very vigilant in these times, ” he cautioned.
Violent extremism is a form of extremism that condones and enacts violence with ideological or deliberate intent.