There are periodic reports of discovery of arms and ammunitions being conveyed from one point to undisclosed destinations in this country. Consignments of guns and cartridges, explosives and other lethal weapons are uncovered at the borders, hidden in travellers’ luggage or specially-contrived compartments on vehicles. It always takes a lot of intuitive diligence, and sometimes tip-offs, to come upon such hiding-places of deadly weapons being smuggled into the country or being transported inland. Sometimes the smugglers manage to escape detection and payment of duties by using unapproved routes, to avoid Customs and Preventive officials at the border posts. All the same, some of them are eventually caught at Police and or Customs road blocks. There are also locally-manufactured shotguns of various sizes, usually small and handy. These are normally patronized by hunters and farmers. The trade in arms and ammunitions has been a genuine or legal business in the past. Licensed Arms Dealers could import shotguns (usually long, single- or double-barrel models), into the country. Buyers were and are still required to acquire permits to possess and use them for specific purposes such as hunting. Keeping shotguns for self-defence was hardly a remote objective, because self-defence or ‘personal security’ had not been a major concern until the recent thirty or so years, when armed robbery has been on the upsurge.
Another burning concern has been the presence of Fulani herdsmen who are armed to the teeth with AK47s originally supposed to be used by the Police and special Security operatives. One really wonders how such people manage to come by those weapons. The arrest of a Ghanaian in the United States of America who, allegedly, had hidden a number of firearms and stuffed canvas boots with thousands of US dollars, in fridges intended for shipment to Ghana, has hit the headlines and social media not too long ago. Initial reports indicated that the suspect was still being quizzed for the needed information on the prospective consignees in Ghana, or any others behind the transaction. The incident has a lot of significance at a time the Nation is preparing for a crucial election in less than five months.
Again, there was a situation whereby one of the major Political Parties had attempted to train a group of people to protect some of its leading personnel before, during and after the elections. Also, an exercise carried out by the Electoral Commission, to register potential voters who had attained 18 years or had not registered before, turned violent in certain areas. People brandishing dangerous gadgets caused mayhem and inflicted wounds on others. The need for extra vigilance by the security agencies cannot be over-stressed. Already, there have been pockets of hot spots in some parts of the country. There are frequent clashes between neighbouring ethnic groups and even clans, over deep-seated issues which seem not to be settled satisfactorily.
Attempts at peace efforts have had to be re-visited at short intervals. Surprisingly, groups and individuals, including very influential opinion leaders, are clamouring for violence through their utterances on air and in public pronouncements, trying to justify self-defence. There is a lot of suspicion, distrust or lack of confidence these days among people and in the operations of some Public institutions. This is very unfortunate for our present Democratic dispensation. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the campaigns and the elections must take place without any form of intimidation from any quarters. The unpleasant occurrences and experiences of some other countries should serve as a warning to all actors in Ghana.
Fortunately, this country has been blessed to have survived some near-explosive periods till now. Our Security Forces should gird their loins and live up to the assurances they keep giving the nation in the face of such challenges, not only for the impending Elections, but also beyond. After all, Elections are not the ultimate in life. We should be able to live in total guarantee of peace to go about our daily affairs and routines. Hoarding guns, missiles and other lethal weapons will not solve any problems; they will rather aggravate the security situation in this country.
BY ANTHONY KWEKU ANNAN