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General News of Saturday, 4 November 2006

Source: Chronicle

Ghana's Peace Attracts Drug Dealers - Minister

THE MINISTER of the Interior, Mr. Kan Dappah has stated that Ghana is attractive to drug dealers in particular and other ill motive persons as well as genuine travelers and investors due to the utmost peace and security in the country.

According to the Minister, as many people want to come to Ghana for genuine reasons, there were others who also want to use the country for the operation of cocaine business, questioning, "if it is now difficult for them to operate where they are, where else would be attractive to them in West Africa?"

Answering his own question, the Minister said, "its here because its safer here and all things being equal, its attractive to drug dealers but by all means let us do everything possible to prevent our borders from those who come here for undesirable purposes."

On the other hand, he noted that it is important that security services, especially the (Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) facilitate entry of genuine travelers such as those coming here for educational, medical, holiday and investment purposes into the country for development.

The Minister made this known at the commissioning of the first batch of one hundred and fifty members of the GIS Border Patrol Unit (BPU), comprising male and females, twenty-three officers and five senior commanders as well as other ranks of the Service on Wednesday in Accra.

Mr. Dapaah indicated that the decision to put in place a BPU was informed by the need to tighten security at the nation's borders and as such a body that would operate, manage and control the boarders more effectively to facilitate easy entry into the country in accordance with the country's immigration laws, while providing incentives for those who use inappropriate means to enter the country to stop the practice.

He said the Immigration was given the task because of its proven record and urged members of the BPU to maintain the positive image of the service in their new duties, saying, "you have a crucial role in protecting our borders as far as immigration laws are concerned and from today, we can say we have men and women actively at work protecting our borders."

Particularly, he cautioned them to handle the weapons they would be given with utmost respect and care for only legitimate purposes when necessary and that, "the use of weapon does not go with temper but used properly only for official engagements."

Further, he urged them to help in gathering intelligence at the borders in securing the safety of the country through constant monitoring and surveillance at the Eastern borders, stretching from Prampram in the Greater Accra Region to Bawku in the Upper East Region where this first batch would be operating.

In addition, Mr. Dappah entreated the BPU members not to succumb to the numerous temptations that goes with their duties, saying, "resolve not to fall for such temptations that would be of disgrace to you, the Service and the nation at large."

In conclusion, he assured the newly commissioned members and GIS that government would provide necessary logistics to make their training meaningful while urging GIS officials to provide regular refresher courses for the BPU to sharpen their skills at all times for maximum success.

Also, the Director General of the GIS, Ms. Elizabeth Adjei said Ghana was an attractive nation in the West Africa Sub-Region due to its strategic, geographical, social and hospitable nature that tend to enhance its advantage over its neighbours.

She said the purpose of the BPU was not to turn Ghana into a Police state but to provide a secured environment for all, including investors to enhance enforcement through adequate physical security to stand the threat environment.

This, she noted would deter those who violate immigration laws from entering the country to undertake illegal operations to soil the nation's image, stressing, "in the last year, our laxity and lack of enforcement allowed non state actors to come into the country to promote illegal businesses but we want to detect and prevent such people from entering the country."

According to her, the BPU would ensure adequate security, patrol and management with the integration of effective training, improved infrastructure such as fencing vulnerable areas; provide dwellings for patrol teams and the use of sophisticated equipments to intercept all security threats.

She assured the Minister that the GIS would continue to work closely with other security agencies, especially the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the military to ensure risk and threat management through intelligence management, while urging all to support them in their operations to keep Ghana safe.