Ghana: Media report security alert, Mahama’s debate challenge to main opposition leader

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Public security alert following the 20 March terrorist attack in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana’s western neighbour, and a challenge thrown by President John Dramani Mahama to opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo to address some “contentious” statements made by the latter were some of the stories highlighted in Ghana this week.

The media also reported a call by former President Jerry John Rawlings for the implementation of capital punishment for murderers.

“Be alert: Don’t ignore minor breaches,” was the lead story of the state-owned Graphic on Thursday after a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by President Mahama after Cote d’Ivoire became the third neighbouring country of Ghana to be attacked by terrorists.

Mali and Burkina Faso to the north of Ghana were attacked in November last year and January this year.

Graphic reported that security chiefs had started a series of engagements with members of the public, particularly owners of public places, as part of efforts to raise the consciousness of Ghanaians of potential terror attacks.

The security chiefs have already met owners of hotels, supermarkets/malls and universities in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions, the newspaper said.

It said “certain proactive measures” had been put in place, according to highly-placed security sources, adding that while the security chiefs were at it, Ghanaians needed to be vigilant and security-conscious in their day-to-day activities.

As part of the engagements, they said security personnel and front desk officers of those facilities had been educated on how to identify suspicious characters.

They said the engagements included what members of staff of those public facilities should do on identifying suspicious characters and linking up with the security agencies.

The newspaper said at its meeting held last Tuesday, the National Security Council urged Ghanaians and other nationals resident in Ghana to bear with security measures that might be enforced at various locations from time to time for the purpose of public safety.

The Council advised members of the public to be “vigilant, cautious and curious and report any unusual circumstances to the law enforcement agencies”.

An official statement said on the basis of briefings by the intelligence agencies and partners, the Council determined that there were credible terrorist threats to all countries in the sub-region.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times, in its story under the headline “Ghanaians asked to be vigilant against terrorists”, reported that the National Security Council had called for public vigilance in the wake of terrorist attacks on some neighbouring countries in West Africa.

It said Ghana was also facing a credible terrorist threat and therefore urged the public to be security conscious.

Meanwhile, the Times reported that an international relations expert had rejected suggestions that a lack of fortified security at Ghana’s borders was a major setback in efforts to parry possible terror attacks.

Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, a Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy, University of Ghana, Accra, observed that although the country’s porous borders weakened its defence against enemies that should not be the immediate focus of security agencies in the quest for a sustained strategy to deal with possible acts of terrorism in Ghana.

He said if sophisticated gadgets and heavy security boots at the country’s entry points were guarantees against attacks, countries like US and UK who invested millions in defence would have been impregnable.

President Mahama, in an interview with a local TV station, TV3, on Monday, accused Nana Akufo-Addo, presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), of making many controversial comments about how the country was being run, indicating a debate would unearth the truth.

“Bring on Akufo-Addo any day any time – President Mahama,” was the headline of the Graphic, with the story saying President Mahama said he was ready to debate the flagbearer of the NPP anytime the need arose.

President Mahama said: “Indeed he’s made a lot of contentious statements that I would have wished that you had him here, so that we would debate those issues, but essentially our parties are involved in agreeing the format of the debate, who organises it and all that, and, so, it’s not for me to say....but, like I said, I’m willing, even this afternoon, if Nana presented himself, to take him on all those contentious statements that he’s made.”

An Accra-based radio station Joy FM, reported on its website that Nana Akufo-Addo, reacting to the challenge on his Twitter handle, said if accepting the challenge for a national debate would solve Ghana’s problems then he was ready to do it.

Meanwhile, Graphic reported in a story under the headline, “People’s Forum-Ghana, offers to organise Mahama-Akufo-Addo debate”, that a group calling itself People’s Forum-Ghana had offered to organise a debate between President Mahama and the NPP flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo.

The People’s Forum-Ghana said in a statement issued in Accra on Wednesday that it would facilitate a debate between the two political rivals.

The group said it had started the process of designing the modalities and form the debate would take and would complete same after consulting President Mahama, Nana Addo and other stakeholders.

“Stemming the tide of callous killings ...Rawlings calls for capital punishment,” was the headline of the Graphic on former President Rawlings’ call for the strict application of the capital punishment law to stem the spate of callous killings in the country.

He said Ghana should not be witnessing the spate of killings with impunity, when the Constitution exacts the severest punishment possible.

Speaking when family members of a murdered MP, Joseph Boakye Dankwa-Adu, called on him, the former president invited Parliament to consider the need to amend the Constitution so that Regional Security Councils would have the power to approve the execution of convicts sentenced to capital punishment.

Rawlings headed two military regimes under which many people were executed for various crimes including murder, failed coup attempts and economic activities. Those executed included three former military heads of state and senior military officers.

As expected, Amnesty International has rejected Rawlings capital punishment demand, saying the call was unfortunate.

The Country Director of Amnesty International, Lawrence Amesu, said the death penalty did not deter crime in any society.

“Amnesty International totally opposes what His Excellency the former President Jerry Rawlings is proposing that people on death row should be executed,” stated Mr Amesu.

“We think that His Excellency has taken us back to barbaric years.”
-0- PANA MA/VAO 19March2016

19 march 2016 06:47:36

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