EMERGING THREATS IN THE WA MUNICIPALITY OF UPPER WEST REGION

Overview

The Wa Municipality is one of the nine Districts/Municipal Assemblies that make up the Upper West Region of Ghana. The region is located in the northwest part of Ghana and shares borders with Cote D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso to the north. In recent times, there has been the manifestation of incidents such as armed robberies, homicides, kidnaps, communal clashes, burglaries, human trafficking, and GSF operations to counter these acts captured between 2021 and 2022 in the Wa municipality. Wa is said to have no huge industrial and manufacturing industries and so employment opportunities are limited, which is a factor that could contribute to the existence of nefarious activities in the area.

Kidnappings and murders

Over the past few weeks, there have been a persistent trends of kidnap and murder incidents perpetrated by unidentified groups in the municipality. The most targeted victims have been identified as night security guards of companies and institutions. The modus operandi of the unknown perpetrators is to decimate victims and bury them in shallow graves. 

Recent reports

A night security guard was allegedly kidnapped at Star Standard International on 12 September 2022. In response to this, the Upper West Regional police announced a ban on the movement of tricycles in Wa from 2200 hrs. effective 13 September 2022 until further notice. The impacted school was also shut down while police monitored the school premises. A similar occurrence was noted during the early hours of 16 September 2022, when another security guard was believed to have been kidnapped near the Wa Technical Institute resulting in tension in the area. Aggrieved youths of the locality took to the streets and towards Wa Naa’s Palace to protest the high rate of crimes in the municipality. The protesters later occupied the main Wa traffic light, blocking the movement of vehicles for over an hour. The irate youth also locked up shops belonging to foreigners. 

These two attacks came after another attempted murder of a security guard at Child Support Ghana Foundation Home on 9 September 2022. However, the victim survived the attack due to GSF intervention. These attacks have instigated fear among residents. Other night security guards have beckoned on their employers to equip them with necessary equipment to enable them to protect themselves. 

Government’s response

As a result of the persistent threat to the security of lives in Wa, three hundred and five Policemen comprising special purpose investigation and intelligence teams and crime combat teams were deployed in Wa on 17 September to beef up security and also carry out a proper investigation on the matter. A suspect was eventually arrested for his alleged involvement in the case.

Following intelligence received by the police service’s investigative team, a body of an unidentified male adult buried in a shallow pit was recovered on Monday, 19 September 2022, at Bamahu, a suburb of Wa, a day after the body of a night security guard was exhumed behind Napogbakole, in the said Wa area. The situation surrounding these incidents remains unascertained, however, reports point to possible ritual killings. The Upper West regional police command indicated that they had arrested a total of 18 people so far in connection with these crimes. 

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