Hotels in the country are just playing the ostrich game with the security and safety of the members of the public who patronize their services.
When Ghana was asked to be on ‘Red Alert’ following attacks launched by terrorists on neighboring Burkina Faso, Mali and Ivory Coast, the hotels tried to address the spongy security situations, but have since then relaxed.
In what appears to be running through all the Star-rated hotels, security is so relaxed that people could enter and exit at any time.
What is making the whole situation murky is the fact that the National Security, with its Counter Terrorism Desk, is not breathing on the hotels to the right thing.
Most of the hotels have engaged private security companies to handle affairs, but these companies are not on top of issues.
The issue of porous security at the various plush hotels bounced to the fore during the ‘Year of Return’ when some visitors raised concerns as to why people could enter hotels without proper checks on their vehicles.
There are murmurings that the equipment used in checking vehicles at certain first-class hotels in the country are not in good shape and those in good shape are handled by persons who do not have deep knowledge of how to use them.
The Inquisitor as far back as March 27, 2019 reported about the malleable security situation in the country’s topflight hotels, especially in Accra.
Five months down the line, the situation is so terrible that the safety of patrons of those big hotels cannot be guaranteed in the event of any attack.
A top class security person in government yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Inquisitor that the security situation in various hotels was simply embarrassing for a country that prides itself on being the ‘Gateway’ to Africa.
According to him, hotels in Burkina Faso have better security, but the terrorists penetrated and killed people and that should inform Ghana not to relax but make sure that better security arrangements are put in place.
He told The Inquisitor that the country’s counter-terrorism activities are just not enough and blamed the National Security for not doing enough.
It emerged during The Inquisitor’s visit to some Star-rated hotels that some have malfunctioning Close Circuit Television (CCTV), as there had been crimes that were simply not detected.
What is laughable is the fact that the hotels are quick to settle issues with victims of thefts because of the fear of losing clients should those nasty incidents get into the public domain.
Ghana became a prospective target, following attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali and a red alert was consequently issued to the effect the country could be on the radar of the jihadists.
The government in the early part of this year appeared to be on top of issues and assured Ghanaians of their safety from the Jihadists.
But the reality on the ground paints a gloomy picture, a clear indication that the country is not serious with counter-terrorism.
In March 2019 West African countries feared attacks could spread from Burkina Faso which has been battling the insurgents since 2015
An alarming rise in jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso is posing a mounting threat to security in three of its coastal neighbours, according to security sources and analysts.
Benin, Ghana and Togo have so far been spared the Islamist violence that has hit their landlocked neighbour since 2015, a fallout from instability in Mali, a haven for groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
Yet the speed at which violence has spread in Burkina Faso has taken many by surprise.
In recent months, attacks have occurred in the eastern region, which borders Benin and Togo, sparking fears that the jihadist bushfire in the Sahel is heading towards the coast.
Security fears have increased since the killing of four Burkinabe customs officials and a Spanish priest who was returning from a meeting in Togo’s capital, Lomé.
They were killed just after crossing the border.
Bakary Sambe, the head of the Timbuktu Institute in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, said the upsurge in violence “seems to indicate that Burkina Faso is the last obstacle that these groups want to get over to reach the coast.”
Northern Ghana, Togo and Benin could become ideal staging points for jihadists hiding in forested areas or isolated rural locations along the porous border, he said.
“What’s more, stretching their area of operations far from the current epi-centre of jihadism could allow them access to the sea via west African ports” and possibly new networks for acquiring weapons,” he said.
Ghana and Togo went on high alert against attacks after gunmen from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) killed 19 people in the Ivorian resort of Grand-Bassam in March 2016.
In the W Regional Park, which straddles Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso, rising militant activity has been detected in recent years.
The Thomas More Institute, a European think-tank, said earlier in March that “fighters from Mali reportedly conducted a reconnaissance operation in 2014-2015 reaching as far as Benin”.
In December 2018, four alleged jihadists from Burkina Faso, Mali and Ivory Coast were arrested in Mali on suspicion of preparing to attack New Year celebrations.
Other sources point to “recent incursions of small groups” from Burkina Faso to villages in northern Togo and Benin, where locals have been asked to stop selling alcohol.
Radical messages have also been preached in mosques, they said.
Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Benin in 2018 conducted joint operations against banditry and cross-border criminality, leading to the arrest of more than 200 people.
Several were suspected of jihadist activities.
One senior Togolese security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said military reinforcements had been sent to the north since the Spanish priest was killed.
He gave no further details but said of the security situation in Burkina Faso: “The threat is real. Everyone is on the alert. The Togolese and Beninese security forces are working in close collaboration with the Burkinabe.
“Patrols have been organised regularly in recent times in border villages, especially at night.”
Ghana army spokesperson Col. Eric Aggrey Quarshie said the military was on top of protecting the northern border. “Everything is under control,” he added, without elaborating.
Effects of violence
But Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation said it was beginning to see the effects of violence in Burkina Faso.
In recent weeks, more than 300 people, including 176 children, have sought refuge in the Bawku area of northeast Ghana.
Most attacks in Burkina Faso go unclaimed but are blamed on Ansarul Islam, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) or the Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS).
Ansarul Islam emerged near the Mali border in December 2016. The JNIM has sworn allegiance to AQIM, while ISGS was behind the deadly ambush of US troops in western Niger in 2017.
Rinaldo Depagne, West Africa project director at the International Crisis Group, said the exact nature of the relationship between these groups and others was unclear.
But he said the militants were exploiting the “weak link” — the government in Ouagadougou — which does not have the means to confront the problem on its own.
“The increase in fronts allows them to avoid the military response from Western armies and forces of the G5 Sahel group [Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad],” Depagne said.
A wider geographical spread of militants is complicated further by the involvement of criminal groups that have long operated in border areas.
They have joined the jihadists as cover for their activities such as weapons and drug smuggling or illegal gold mining.
Several analysts said poverty, illiteracy and the geographical remoteness of the border areas could make them fertile breeding grounds for radical ideologies.
The same factors helped the development of Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.
Burkina Faso: Front-line against Jihadism in West Africa
Burkina Faso’s strategic geographical position makes it crucial in the fight against extremism in West Africa, but the country is failing to contain the threat. Despite coordinated efforts, national and regional forces have been unable to counter the expansion of jihadist groups towards the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, and Togo.
The First Line of Defense
Since the 2011 Libyan crisis, extremist organisations have crossed the Sahara desert and propelled the insurgency in Northern Mali. In the vacuum of state authority, jihadist groups have spread across the whole Sahel region, impacting Niger, Chad, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, and are now moving further south. This has had immense repercussions on the entire West Africa security architecture. Burkina Faso is on the front-line against this jihadist expansion. Lying between two of the most unstable areas of the Sahel region – namely Central Mali and Western Niger – Burkina Faso is plagued with ethnic and religious conflict.
Source: The Inquisitor