A security alert released by the UK government indicating an imminent terrorist attack has settled on the minds of Ghanaians.
On Thursday, August 3, the alert from their website indicated, “terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Ghana. While there have been no recent attacks in Ghana, terrorist groups in West Africa have demonstrated their capability and intent by mounting attacks in 2015 and 2016 in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali, targeting beach resorts, hotels, cafes and restaurants visited by foreigners”.
They advised all foreign nationals to always carry a copy of their passports and other documents on them whilst they keep the original somewhere safe.
“Also, for the safety of foreign nationals, a person must carry with him/her a photocopy of their passport at all times while the original document remains in a safe place,” they stated.
Also, the Canadian government on May 2017 warned its citizens travelling to Ghana to be vigilant, indicating a looming terror attack on Ghana. The notice said “There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist targets could include shopping malls, government buildings, and public areas such as bars, restaurants, hotels and sites frequented by Westerners. Be aware of your surroundings in public places’’.
Moreover, the UK government in an article on the gov.uk website advising its citizens indicated that the Ghanaian local laws and customs must be respected by all foreign nationals so as to avoid any suspicion or misconduct from an individual especially with the way of dressing.
“Ghana is a conservative and deeply religious country. Although modern and progressive attitudes also prevail, you should show respect for traditional values and morals”.
Below are the points made by the UK government on their website on how foreign nationals can be safe:
1. Dress modestly in public.
2. Wearing military clothing including camouflage is prohibited.
3. Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for drug related offences are severe. Even possession of small amounts of marijuana can lead to a prison sentence in excess of 5 years, usually after a lengthy and expensive legal process. Bail is not normally granted. Class A drugs like cocaine are likely to be laced with other substances. Foreign visitors, including British nationals, have died after taking these drugs.
4. Carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times, and put the original document in a safe.
5. Homosexuality is illegal. Although there is a small gay community, there is no ‘scene’ and most Ghanaians don’t accept that such activity exists.
6. Photography near sensitive sites like military installations or the airport is strictly prohibited. Ask permission if you want to take a photograph of a building where there are guards on duty. Beware of self-appointed officials trying to charge fees to take pictures of well-known sites of interest.
7. Ghanaian family law is very different from UK law, particularly when child custody becomes an issue.
8. The fear of having to experience the tragedy of some countries affected by terrorist attacks have brought experts, politicians and even pastors to the centre of this alert.
Minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has charged government to take immediate steps to assure the safety of Ghanaians.
“I think that it is important for the Ghanaian government to respond to this if there is a looming terrorist attack. If there is, are citizens being alerted and what is being done to ensure that we are safe,” Hon. Ablakwa said.
Security analyst David Agbe has urged security agencies in the country to endeavour to create preventive measures to anticipate any possible terrorist attack on the country.