Porous borders fuelling insecurity as Immigration grapples with serious logistical constraints
A solid border infrastructure in an unstable sub-region is critical not only to check criminals from entering the country, but also to check economic migrants attracted by Ghana’s stability and economic growth.
Ghana’s internal security can only be brought under control when challenges of border controls are satisfactorily addressed.
The use of sophisticated weapons by criminals and the increasing spate of sophisticated crime have alarmed the citizens.
The Ghana Police Service has come under intense criticisms for not doing enough to bring crime under control.
However, blaming the Police Service alone is unfair as the critics have lost sight of the contribution of the country’s porous borders to the insecurity situation.
Ghana's emerging economy as a result of the oil find and its relative political stability in the West African sub-region have attracted an increasing number of foreigners, including illegal immigrants, as well as criminals, into the country to seek greener pasture.
Foreigners all over without proper records
The number of foreigners, especially from the neighbouring countries, without any reliable record on them is a cause for concern, and a stroll in major cities and towns in Ghana provides enough evidence.
Easy for criminals to enter and exit
The porous borders make it easy for criminals to enter and depart the country through the numerous unapproved routes.
It is a fact that suspects arrested for serious crimes, such as armed robbery with sophisticated guns, murder and illegal sale of arms, comprise nationals from some of Ghana’s neighbouring countries.
Ghana has 42 approved borders
It must be noted that Ghana has 42 approved borders, comprising 36 minor borders, two seaports and four major borders, including one airport.
Illegal routes to Ghana
Aside these, there are several illegal routes along Ghana’s borders where smugglers and criminals ply their trade.
Not a single metre of border fencing
However, the country cannot boast of a single metre of border fencing, a critical element in border management strategy around the world.
In line with this, the country needs to construct a considerable length of fence fitted with Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras and other devices to enhance border management.
Where are the guns for Immigration Officers?
Last year, personnel of the Ghana Immigration Service at the country’s borders were legally permitted to use firearms during border patrols.
Even though Parliament passed an act to legalise the bearing of arms, the service is yet to be provided with the firearms.
Due to the weak border control, smugglers have a field day bringing goods to Ghana or taking goods out of the country through illegal borders without paying duties, costing the economy millions of cedis in losses.
Immigration officers risk their lives in very obscure locations on Ghana’s borders just to protect the country.
Some officers actually sleep in temporary structures in deep forests hundreds of miles away from any community.
Others cross rivers and streams on foot and walk for miles to their duty posts.
Coherent border management systems
Ghana needs coherent border management systems in order to check the influx of illegal immigrants into the country.
Urgent need to retool Immigration Service
As the government allocates GH?800 million to retool the Ghana Police Service, it is equally imperative for the government to, as a matter of urgency, pursue a coherent border management strategy through a well-equipped Immigration Service.
Bribery and corruption at entry points
Bribery and corruption at the entry points have also worsened the entry of contraband goods, especially arms and drugs, into the country.
Since assuming office, President Nana Akufo-Addo keeps advocating for the 24-hour opening of the borders between Ghana and Togo, explaining that this will boost trade and tourism, and, thereby, ensure that the peoples of the two nations reap the economic benefits thereof.
While this is a noble idea, the influx of sophisticated weapons into the country, some of which have been intercepted by the security agencies, raises questions.
3 Arrested for allegedly trading in weapons (January 27, 2018)
Three men have been arrested by the Kasoa Divisional Police Command for allegedly trading in weapons and hiring same to criminals in Kasoa and elsewhere for robbery and other criminal activities.
The suspects are Mawuli Adokokye, 28; Obed Wood, 37; and Jeffrey Tetteh, 38.
Police arrest Chinese for illegal sale of arms (November 1, 2016)
Police in Kumasi arrested a Chinese woman for allegedly selling arms and ammunition without lawful authority.
Ashanti Region Deputy Commander, ACP Ampofo Duku says 32-year-old housewife, Lucy Tang, was picked up.
A search of her vehicle revealed four pump action guns, one Sig Sauer rifle and 70 rounds of 380 auto ammunition.
She led police to her residence at South Patasi, where two foreign-made pistols, 37 pieces of Point 22 ammunition, 20 pieces of Point 25 ammunition and 11 Chinese passports were found.
She told police the pump action guns were given to her by an unnamed Ghanaian while the foreign pistols belong to her brother, identified as Sun Yun Chang.
Though Lucy Tang claimed the Sig Sauer Rifle belongs to her, she failed to produce any document to prove ownership.
Kumasi police arrest 4 in biggest arms hauls (December 14, 2015)
Police in Ashanti Region arrested four persons, including a Burkinabe, for possessing and transporting a cache of ammunition to Niger.
The suspects, three of whom are Ghanaians, were picked up upon a tip-off.
The arms retrieved include 20 AK47 guns, machine guns and countless ammunition.
Bomb scare: Police arrest 3 suspects (Jan 15, 2018)
Few months ago, three persons who were in possession of seven explosive items alleged to be grenades (bomb) were arrested by the police.
They are Abdul Karim, 30, described as notorious land guard; Ismail Ali Musah, 31, believed to be a member of Islamic State in Syria (ISIS); and Osman Alhassan, 33, a Malian. They are currently in police custody assisting in investigations.
The explosives were intercepted by the Odorkor Police based on intelligence.
Karim was arrested at Ablekuma Agape in Accra with the hand grenades. He then led the police to arrest Musah (supplier of the grenade) and Alhassan at Kata Hostel at Nyamekye in Accra.
Police seize truckload of arms (January 10, 2012)
On January 10, 2012, security operatives seized a truckload of arms and ammunition and arrested five suspects, comprising three Ghanaians and two Nigerians.
One of the Ghanaian suspects said he was the owner of the illicit cargo, and claimed it was being taken to Nigeria.
Police in Gambaga intercept cache of guns (December 8, 2017)
Police at Gambaga in the Northern Region on December 8, 2017 intercepted a cache of weapons in a vehicle with six occupants.
The Nissan Patrol, with registration number GE 5433-16, was heading to Namong village from Tamale.
A search in the car uncovered six pump action guns and 130 cartridges.