It is undeniable that insecurity has increasingly become a major problem among the countries in West Africa. While some countries such as – Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Niger, have been experiencing a series of attacks by terrorist groups, other neighbouring countries remain potential zones likely to witness shadows of terror as armed actors continue to spread their operations spirally across the Sahel region and progressing towards other West African countries.
In recent times Togo has witnessed attacks on civilians and the military. On Wednesday, 10 May 2022, a group of heavily armed gunmen suspected to be al-Qaeda affiliates ambushed a military post of Kpekpakandi in the Kpendjal prefecture near the Togo-Burkina border, resulting in 21 soldiers casualties including eight (8) soldiers fatalities. This was followed by another attack recorded in July 2022 in the said Kpendjal prefecture.
An IED detonation left seven children dead and two injured in the Margba village of Tatigou commune. To date, the attack on the security post at Kpekpankandi is noted as the first deadly attack in the history of the country. This has instilled fear in the country known to be peaceful and has been void of any security issues. This successful attack remains a threat to its neighbouring country Ghana, which also shares a border with Burkina Faso.
Ghana has been rated as one of the most peaceful countries on the continent. According to the 2022 edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI) report, Ghana is the second most peaceful country in the sub-Saharan African region and the 40th in the world. This rating is about to be threatened due to the rising insecurity threat posed by porous borders, which have long served as a safe haven for Islamist militants. Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM) fighters numbering 20 or more allegedly invaded the Burkinabe border community of Benliyenli, about 25 kilometres from Bansi in Binduri and close to Gentiga in Bawku, Ghana.
According to a local official, the fighters entered the community around 11 p.m. amid gunshots. Reports cited that some of the villagers fled to the Ghanaian side of the border due to the incident. Ghanaian authorities are said to have sent armed forces to the area to monitor the situation. According to sources, on 11 June 2022, some armed men allegedly invaded Dakola, another Burkinabe town near Ghana’s border in Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District and held some business operators, hostage, for nearly an hour. After looting millions of CFA and killing two locals, the perpetrators fled.
The possible root cause of unchallenged terrorist infiltrations:
Several reports have cited the recruitment of Ghanaians into terrorist groups. Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) spokesman Sidi Amar and the head of Ansarul Islam’s foreign fighting unit, Saifoulah, estimate that there are 200 Ghanaian fighters in the ranks of the jihadis groups. The majority of them are believed to be in the ranks of JNIM/GSIM. About 80 Ghanaian fighters are believed to be part of Ansaru Islam. They are prevalent in the Katiba fighters of Mouslim, the Tamimou Katiba, and the Saifoulah Katiba. These Ghanaian recruits operate mainly in the areas of Pama, Kompienga of the Est region, and more widely in the Barsalogho of Center-Nord and in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso.
The Katiba Serma group, led by Abu Hamza Al- Chinguinti, consists of approximately 40 Ghanaian members operating in the Mali Gourma and Burkina Faso Fada regions. For Katiba Macina, about 30 elements under the command of Shekou Oumar and Bobala operate in the Dialloube area. Six (6) Ghanaians are said to be Sheikh Iyad Ag Ghali’s Ansar Dine members. Two Ghanaians have reportedly assisted in the guarding of hostages for a time. While 40 Ghanaian elements are part of the ISGS/EISG.
While the need to monitor these threats can not be overemphasised, it should be noted that the current situation of the country could be an added advantage to extremist groups who exploit the poor condition and absence of good governance in some localities to gain the attention of wandering youth and thereby radical them and using them to gain assess to several parts of the country.
The second possible factor would be inter-communal violence. Almost every community in Ghana has experienced some form of communal conflicts that are complex with varied causes; ranging from religious differences to land resource competition, chieftaincy succession rights, ethnic supremacy, and political and economic marginalisation or deprivation. The failure to tackle some communal violence and its causes could possibly influence terrorists’ presence in a country.