Ghana has been facing a rapid increase in cases and rates of abduction among both local and foreign citizens. This worrying trend has had Ghana, which was considered to be one of the safest countries in West Africa, shoot up in crime rate rankings across the global scales. However, security leaders in the Ghanaian Government tend to think different.
According to the Nation-Masters 2014 survey on “Ghana Crime Statistics,” concerning recurrent cases of abduction in Ghana, most of the respondents confirmed that instances of crime have been on the increase ever since the past three years. In other words, ever since 2011. Currently, crime rates that range from armed robbers and armed kidnappers have significantly increased capturing not only the local but the international community attention. This follows two foreign abductions that were carried out within less than a month.
The United Kingdom security alert travel advisory
The Government of the United Kingdom, through its foreign travel advice for its citizens in Ghana, gave a public report concerning the increased cases of abduction in Ghana. The UK Government warned that Ghana was most likely to face increased rates of terrorisms. As a result, the UK foreigners were advised to keep vigil at the "Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.”
According to the Travel Advice,
There is a threat of kidnapping by groups originating in the Sahel. This includes Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-IM) and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel across the region's porous border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in areas bordering the Sahel. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials, and civilians in the region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.
On the contrary, Ghana’s Government and top security officials strongly disagree with the security alert provided by the United Kingdom. According to Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who happens to be Ghana’s Minister of Information, the United Kingdom travel advisory was inappropriate.
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah went ahead to disqualify the allegation on Ghana’s security by revealing that Ghana’s National Security officials carried out their country security intelligence and found out nothing worth worrying the foreigners and tourists from the UK among other countries.
The Minister of Information said, “Ghana’s safety and risk profiles remain largely unchanged despite recent events in the sub-region. The security apparatus of the nation continues to be retooled and vigilant to tackle any major security threat within the jurisdiction.”
Canada travel guide warning on Ghana’s increased kidnappings
Apart from the UK warnings, the Canadian Government also went ahead to warn all tourist, workers, and foreigners from Canada to keep vigil concerning the rise in abduction and kidnapping cases. Canada's travel information guide took to their Twitter account on 5th June 2019 and twitted the following security updates.
“#Ghana: violent crimes, including armed robbery and kidnapping, may occur. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone or displaying signs of wealth. Ensure that windows and doors in your residence are secured.”
Two Canadian girls abducted
The tweet followed a recent kidnapping incident where two Canadian volunteers were kidnapped in one of the most notorious Ghanaian cities known for crime. The two Canadian girls are namely Lauren Patricia Catherine, who is 20 years and Bailen Chitty who happens to be 19 years.
The duo was kidnapped on Tuesday, 4th July 2019 in the city of Kumasi, which happens to be the capital city of Ashanti Region. No sooner had the two Canadian girls left their house at 8:20 pm than they were approached by armed thugs who forced them into a car. Bailen Chitty and her counterpart Lauren Patricia Catherine, were in Ghana following their activities with Youth Challenge International.
Thanks to the beefing up of security, the Ghanaian police was able to rescue the two girls who were unharmed by their abductors. According to a report by The Minister of Information, “Preliminary investigations show they are fine and are receiving the necessary attention". He went ahead to showcase how the Ghanaian security acted swift in saving the two foreigners in a security operation that was successful in a less than 30 minutes operation.
The police managed to arrest a total of 8 victims believed to have been behind the abductions. These include 5 Ghanaian suspects and three Nigerians. Apart from that, the city of Kumasi has been leading in kidnapping breaking news.
Local Ghanaian girl’s abductions
The abduction security problem is not new to the local Ghanaian residents. Take a look at the three girls Priscilla Mantebea Koranchie, Ruth Love Quayson, and Priscilla Blessing Bentum. The three, who are famously referred to as “Takoradi Kidnappings’ are still at large ever since their close related kidnapping dates.
Indian man abducted
Talking about Kumasi again, the shocking story about the abduction of an Indian man in Ghana is still fresh in the memories of the citizens. The 30-year-old Indian man named Umpakan Chodri fell prey to an armed robbery-kidnapping that sent chills to the entire nation. The abductors sent graphic pictures of Umpakan Chodri kneeling with his hands tied on the back and a gun held towards his head as the thugs threatened to shoot him.
The abductors demanded that Umpakan’s family must pay ransom or else they would kill him. The kidnappers demanded a total of $500,000 as they continued to send shocking photos to the family members. Lucky again, the Ghanaian police came through by rescuing him at Parkoso which is located in the municipality of Asokore-Mampong.
61-year-old man abducted
To showcase the height of abduction in Ghana, a 61-year-old leader of Mission of Estonia in Ghana was also kidnapped one day as he was taking a regular daybreak walk along Accra. The counselor General named Nabil Makram Basbous is just one of the few affected individuals that showcase that the rate of abduction is Gahanna is a worrying trend.
Ghana is safe! Fewer Kidnappings compared to neighboring countries
Unlike the statistical numbers and international travel advisory provided by both UK and Canada, Derrick Oduro, who happens to be The Deputy Minister for Defense in Ghana strongly argues that Ghana is safe. Oduro went ahead to describe Ghana to be like “Heaven” compared to other countries rates of abductions.
According to him, the witnessed kidnappings in Ghana are a shadow compared to what other African countries statistics record. The Deputy Minister for Defense stated that a country like Nigeria is much worse with kidnapping incidences reaching 250 in 24 hours and Kenya with five kidnappings within 24 hours.
Derrick Oduro related the increasing kidnapping incidences to the global rise in criminal and terrorist activities all over the world. Talking at Asempa FM, Derrick said, “Ghana is experiencing kidnappings because of emerging crimes, Nigeria about 250-300 people are kidnapped on a daily basis, Nigeria records 10-20 kidnappings hourly, go to South Africa, Kenya so many attacks are going on there, other countries record a huge number of kidnappings, ours is a small figure, when it comes to kidnappings, Ghana is a heaven.”
To conclude minister however advised that abduction rates are likely to increase if the necessary security steps are not swiftly taken. According to him, if Ghana’s security does not continue to be beefed up, then the increasing confrontations from the terrorist groups are likely to increase.
This might lead to increased kidnappings among other negative impacts that might affect Ghana’s reputation in the international security rankings. As a result, all Ghanaians should be vigilant and report any cases of suspicion and work together with the police in beefing up the security for the good of Ghana as a country.