Introduction

On 7 January 2022, the Ghanaian military arrested six suspected members of the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), the Western Togoland secessionist group near Aflao in the Volta region. The individuals allegedly planned to attack the Bank of Ghana office in Hohoe, as well as the Adomi bridge, among other targets. Security forces in Denu in the Volta region also carried out an operation leading to the apprehension of suspects belonging to the separatist group, which has been pushing for an independent Western Togoland state since the 1970s.

Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF)

                           Western Togoland

In 1914, Britain and France invaded the German colony of Togoland in West Africa, which was bordered to the east by the British Gold Coast colony and to the west by French Dahomey (now Benin). The war’s victors separated the territory into two parts: British Togoland and French Togoland. Eventually, Western Togoland residents decided to join the Gold Coast, now Ghana, after a United Nations-supervised referendum in 1957. From 1980 to 2017, secessionism was dormant until the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), created in 1994 resurrected the demand for Western Togoland’s autonomy even declaring independence in May 2019. Western Togoland is made up of the Volta Region, Oti Region and parts of the North East, Northern and Upper East Regions.

Previous Attacks and Government’s response

Prior to the latest attempt, intel had captured previous attacks in 2021. Reports indicate gunmen stormed police stations in Mepe and Aveyime in the Volta Region in the early hours of 25 September 2020. Sequel to this, reports further claimed that the armed men belonged to the Homeland Study Group Foundation. The assailants had blocked main routes going to and from the area before a joint military-police response team could bring the situation under control. They also raised their new ‘national’ flags and demanded Ghanaian security forces vacate their territory. Despite the fact that authorities were eventually able to intervene and bring the situation under control, the group reappeared four days later on 29 September 2020, with an attack on a public bus stop in Ho, the regional capital, where they set two vehicles on fire. Following this trail of events, there have been no attacks in recent times as Government security forces continue to monitor the activities of the group and conduct regular intel-led operations to avert further attacks.

Present-day

While the movement has struggled to gain traction, the Ghanaian government’s efforts to suppress the secessionist movement have been successful, the concept of the region gaining independence is merely an illusion, owing to the government’s use of divisive and repressive tactics, which have so far been instrumental and effective in suppressing separatism. Furthermore, the separatist aspirations are unsustainable because they do not represent the views of all ethnic groups in the region. Notwithstanding, the evolution of separatist movements highlights concerns about an underlying political crisis linked to governance deficits, equitable resource allocation, and equal political representation of marginalized groups. Ghana’s porous borders, along with threats from secessionists and transnational crime, presents a recipe for disaster in regards to national security.