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Crime & Punishment of Monday, 29 November 2021

Source: Ilyaas Al-Hasan, Contributor

279 Ghanaians and 107 foreigners nabbed under Operation Koundanlgou IV

Emmanuel Okyere, Ghana's National Security Advisor at the press briefing Emmanuel Okyere, Ghana's National Security Advisor at the press briefing

"In this operation, 279 Ghanaians and 107 foreigners have been arrested and profiled. Exhibits such as weapons, narcotics, mining implements and uncustomed goods including vehicles have been impounded. All cases are under swift investigation and some have already appeared before the court. One has already been convicted in the Savannah Region," Brigadier-General (rtd.) Emmanuel Okyere, Ghana's National Security Advisor has revealed.

He said Operation Koudanlgou IV was launched as part of pro-active measures under the Accra Initiative to clamp down on criminal activities and to also maintain peace and harmony in Ghana and her neighbouring countries.

According to him, "the main objective is to fight terrorism, transnational organized crimes within our borders, highway robbery, trafficking of all forms, illegal mining, security issues related in transhumance, and other criminal activities within our defined areas of operations. The operation also included some social programmes."

He disclosed this at a press briefing in Wa Friday, November 26, 2021, following recent security operations in some parts of the Upper West Region that left many residents in fear and reeling for their losses.

It can be recalled that GhanaWeb on Friday, November 26, reported a joint security raid at the Wa East District where people were beaten, arrests made and properties of people especially, mining equipment were destroyed.

This triggered a public outcry over what many described as irresponsible and demeaning on the part of the security particularly when the experience of similar alleged brutality by the military in the Wa Municipality a few months ago is still fresh in their memory.

Following this, the security team together with its counterparts from neighbouring countries, held a Press Conference at the Aggrey Barracks 10th Mechanized Battalion in Wa to explain to the citizenry the motive of the exercise and how it all went.

Addressing the Media, the National Security Advisor said: "Within the past few days, you would have observed an increased security presence in the Upper West and some other regions of the north conducting activities to rid of the country of suspected criminals. These security activities are part of the planned programmes of the Accra Initiative which encompasses Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo.

"The multinational joint operation Koudanlgou IV is the fourth in the series since the beginning of the initiative in September 2017. The first operation in May 2021 was between Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Benin. The second in November 2018 between Ghana, Burkina Faso and Cote D'Ivoire and the third between Ghana and Togo in 2019."

"Personnel conducting the operation were drawn from several agencies including Ministry of National Security, Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Police Service, Ghana National Fire Service, Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Immigration Service, National Intelligence Bureau, Research Department of Foreign Affairs, Ghana National Ambulance Service, Forestry Commission as well as Narcotic Control Commission."

Brigadier-General (rtd) Emmanuel Okyere explained the operation was being undertaken in all 5 regions of the North as well as parts of Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire and Togo.

While entreating the public to readily cooperate with the security personnel in the ongoing operations, he indicated the exercise was neither targeting law-abiding citizens or any ethnic group but was aimed at arresting criminals, organized criminal networks and any activity that is capable of fuelling terrorism.

"The general public is hereby entreated to freely cooperate with the security personnel. The operations are not targeted at law-abiding citizens or any ethnic group but it is aimed at arresting criminals, organized criminal networks as well as activities that have the potential to fuel terrorism in the country and by extension the sub-region."

"This operation is intelligence-led. Since its commencement, the personnel have conducted Cordon and Search operations, swoops, highway robbery and border patrols as well as anti-illegal mining operations," he told the media.

According to him, the Koundanlgou IV operation is not fighting only criminals but also aims at sensitizing the general public on the threats of terrorism and encouraging them to cooperate with the security agencies in passing relevant information.

When quizzed about the alleged brutalities and excesses the people in the areas of the operations suffered in the hands of the troops, the Retired Brigadier- General claimed the leadership of the security team were unaware of any such alleged brutalities but promised to launch a probe into those reports.

He disclosed that the team, in their line of operations also usually use the opportunity to come to the aid of the people in their areas of operations in the provision of social amenities. He said, as a result, the security personnel on this occasion have provided 7 boreholes to the people of which, the Upper West received two - Bankpama in the Wa West District and Bamwon in the Lambussie District.

Acknowledging that security operation often comes with some inconvenience to residents, he appealed to the people in the region not to be too fixated on the excesses that might have arisen out of the exercise over the larger picture of the achievements chalked from the whole operation and urged them to cooperate with the security agencies since the operations are aimed at achieving peace and security for law-abiding citizens of the country.

Meanwhile, the National Security Advisor also called on the people in the region to continue to observe the COVID-19 safety protocols while urging the media to intensify sensitization on the dangers associated with bush burning in order to reduce the practice to the barest minimum, if not eradicated.