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Deal with Western Togoland rebels now, security expert warns

Adib Saani tells Asaase Radio that the Ghana police and army must crush the secessionists in the Volta before they get out of control

A prominent security analyst has called on the government to deal immediately with the activities of the separatist Western Togoland Group and remove the Minister of National Security, Albert Kan-Dapaah, before the situation in the territory escalates.

Adib Saani, director of the Jatikay Centre for Human Security and Peace-Building, was speaking with Nana Yaa Mensah on The Asaase Breakfast Show (ABS) after the group blocked sections of the Ho-Accra highway at Juapong today (Friday 25 September), bringing traffic to a standstill.

The group is also reported to have launched attacks on the Aveyime and Mepe police stations in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region, in Sogakope, as well as in Asutsuare and Atimpoku in the neighbouring Eastern Region.

 

“Relaxed about it”

Saani said the group’s recent activities may be a prelude to further actions to carry out their agenda.

“I am not surprised at all: I knew it would get to this,” he said. “It is depressing to know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“When this whole secessionist group thing started we were relaxed about it. We arrested them and let them go. We didn’t seem to give it the seriousness it deserved.

“If for nothing at all, we have a lot of lessons to learn, because Boko Haram [in Nigeria] didn’t start as a militant group.”

Call for resignation

Saani said he would like to see structures put in place immediately to check the activities of the group, which seem to be getting out of hand.

 

However, he also called for Kan-Dapaah to resign, in recognition of his failure to forestall the attacks and ensure national security.

The secessionists have ordered all members of the security services to leave the “homeland” within 24 hours and not to attempt to take any arms or ammunition away with them. Reports suggest that they are also holding a number of police officers hostage.

“The National Security Minister has not been up to the task,” Saani said. “I unreservedly ask that he resigns, because he has failed on this occasion. Look, the people have become more emboldened – I don’t think you need a rocket scientist to tell you this.

“And unfortunately they have their communities behind them. From day one, some of us have been saying the way things are going, [we must] rise to the occasion and use the carrot-and-stick approach to arrest and prosecute them in line with the laws of the country.”

Police search

The secessionist group, which is also known as the Homeland Study Group Foundation, plans to cut itself off from Ghana and declare itself an independent country called Western Togoland.

A combined team of military and police personnel rounded up eight supporters of the group in Ho as they met to finalise arrangements to declare the Volta Region an independent state in May last year.

About three weeks ago, the police mounted a search for group members after their signposts for Western Togoland were spotted in Akuse and near Somanya, both in the Eastern Region.

Graphic Online reports this afternoon that 21 people have been arrested in connection with secessionist activities in the Volta Region in the early hours of the day. The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, said the regional security council was in control of the situation and that roadblocks mounted in Juapong, Sogakope and Tefle.

The group, which is led by the 83-year-old Charles Kormi Kudzordzi (aka Papavi), operates in secrecy. In November 2019 it unlawfully declared the Volta Region a sovereign state of Western Togoland.

Fred Dzakpata

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.
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