General News of Thursday, 22 November 2018
More than 300 people have been arrested and over 150 items and equipment, including explosives and a tractor seized, after armed forces from Ghana and neighbouring Burkina Faso, Cote d’ Ivoire raided many border communities in Northern and Upper West Regions on Wednesday, in an ongoing joint multinational operation.
The operation, KOUDANLGOU II, was carried out at the Bui Dam catchment area, stretching from isolated Dollar Power, settlements Plumbujara Forest Reserve in the Northern Region to Tumu, Hamile and Kpongu near Wa in the Upper East.
Nearly 500 makeshift structures were totally destroyed including an entire illegal mining community called Dokokyina, which were set ablaze by the ruthless servicemen, however, occupants had moved out before the forces arrived. Some personal belongings running into millions were burnt to ashes and the remaining confiscated.
The items that were seized included; seventy (70) pieces of dynamites, Thirteen (13) motorbikes, ten unlicensed, ten (10) locally made cap guns, one tractor, three (3) chainsaw machines, four chainsaw machine blades, a lighting rope, a dagger knife, two (2) red star live AAA pellets, a grape size led pellet, a large quantity of dried leaves suspected to be marijuana and a metal detectors.
A group of selected press from the Northern Regional capital are travelling with the KOUDANLGOU II team to the operation scenes. The press visited Wasipe, Tinga and Banda Nkwanta, an illegal mining communities in the Bole Bamboi district, that were left in flames after the battalions’ raids.
Leader of the Planning Team-Ghana, Lt Col. Henry ansah Akrofi addressed the media in Bole where a mini communication setup was installed to monitor the ongoing operation. He read a prepared statement on behalf Ghana’s National Security Minister, Hon. Albert Kan – Dapaah.
According to the top Ghanaian military officer, the joint operation among Ghana and her western and northern neighbours was being undertaken to combat transnational crimes such as smuggling, drug trafficking, terrorism, human trafficking, illicit arms dealings along their borders.
Col. Ansah Akrofi explained that KOUDANLGOU was a code-name given to a regional multilateral security agreement among Presidents of Ghana, Burkina Faso, La Cote d’ Ivoire, Benin and Togo to have their heads of intelligence and security agencies to engage themselves through regular security meetings, identify security threats along their common borders and institute measures to address same.
He said this was the second of such operation in within the borders of Ghana. According to him, the first one was conducted in May after the second ministerial meeting in January, at Lome, where the ministers endorsed proposal from heads of intelligence and security agencies of the named countries to conduct a Joint Multi National Operation.
He stated that the first operation, KOUDANLGOU I 2018 had been done around the Bawku among Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Ghana.
“This operation is supported by the Military, Ghana Police, Customs Division, Immigration Service, Narcotics Control Board, Ghana National Fire Service, Forestry Commission and the Ambulance Service. Enough personnel and resources have been mobilised by the Security Agencies to ensure the success of the operation and also safeguard the security of Ghana’s borders. The Security agencies are not only carrying out effective patrols but also instituting a lot of intelligence work that will lead to the arrest of criminals operating along the country’s borders and surrounding areas”.
The National Security Ministry entreated residents to report to the security operatives elements whose activities endanger the security of the nations’ borders.
Innocent Foreign Nationals to be Repatriated
Taking questions from pressmen after reading the minister’s statement, Lt Col. Ansah revealed that among those arrested, nearly half were foreign nationals, mostly from Benin, Nigerian, Niger and Cote d’ Ivoire. He said a huge number of them were arrested engaging in illegal mining activities but others, including three Nigerian teenagers, were also rounded up after illicit and banned drugs such as tramodal, wee toffee and marijuana, were found with them.
The Operation Leader again disclosed that the suspects were put before the Bole Magistrate Court and a remand request was granted. Col. Ansah mentioned that a screening exercise was already underway as plans for immediate repatriation of the foreign nationals of those cleared by investigations. Those found culpable are to be prosecuted in Ghana.
He finally explained, that because the operation was conducted simultaneously, the planning team for the three countries would head to Cote d’ Ivoire Thursday to take details of the outcome and discuss repatriation plans if Ghanaian nationals were arrested.
Coordinating Leaders for both Cote d’ Ivoire and Burkina Faso, Major Katty Bi Jonas and Major Banaon Sonie Alex praised the operation and was optimistic that the cooperation will combat transnational crime.