Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocesan Development Organization and the Upper East Regional Peace Council have jointly appealed to various stakeholders, especially Security forces acting to restore peace in Garu district in the Upper East region to apply “a touch of professionalism in their towards restoring peace and security in the area.
A press statement signed and released on 31st October, 2023, by the Bishop of Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic diocese, Most Rev. Alfred Agyenta and Chairman of the regional Peace Council, Alhaji Sumaila Issaka while condemning the recent attacks on National Security Operatives by youth in the area, which led to violent responses from Military personnel, also called on government to initiate an independent investigation into the incident. Below is a full copy of the statement.
PRESS RELEASE BY THE UPPER EAST REGIONAL PEACE COUNCIL AND THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF NAVRONGO-BOLGATANGA ON REPORTED MILITARY BRUTALITIES IN GARU AND ITS ENVIRONS-31St OCTOBER, 2023
The Upper East Regional Peace Council and the Catholic Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga view with grave concern the recent happenings in Garu involving the military and the indigenes of Garu and condemn in no uncertain terms the brutalities meted out to civilians in the area. We stand in solidarity with all those who have suffered from these brutalities.
We have, over the past years painstakingly carried out a lot of work along the border communities including communities within the Garu and Tempane areas through building cohesive communities and fostering security-community as well as trust-building interface. These activities were carried out based on lessons we have learnt from other areas, including the Sahel Region, that propose the use of soft-skills in countering extremist activities and which have been found to be successful. Our activities and campaigns on countering violent extremist activities have been anchored on the Ministry of National Security awareness campaign slogan “see something, say something” launched in 2022.
We were, therefore, extremely surprised to receive information from Garu in the past few days about the horrible incidents in that area, which have given cause for us to express our grave concerns. We received reports of brutalities meted out by the military to some of the youth of the area, resulting in several casualties on the dawn of Sunday, 29th October, 2023. This situation has created fear and panic among people in the area. This development if not handled very well will hamper the needed cooperation between the residents and the security personnel in countering violent extremism. These recent brutalities in Garu by the military have the grave potential of defeating the much needed collaboration and mutual trust between the security personnel and the citizenry in dealing with the violent extremism that is knocking on our borders.
In the light of the lack of clarity on what actually happened, we call on the Government to initiate an independent investigation into the incidents involving the National Intelligence personnel and the youth of Garu, on the one hand, and the military and the youth on the other. We also call on Government, as a matter of urgency, to take the necessary steps to ensure that those who were injured in the incidents receive the needed medical attention and to guarantee the safety of those who have been arrested.
Furthermore, we call on the Ministry of National Security and the Ghana Armed Forces to ensure that their approach to restore security and peace has more professional touch and not the use of brutal force, so that in the course of their work the dignity of the human person is always respected. We, the Upper East Regional Peace Council and the Catholic Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga jointly call on the people of Garu and its environs to be the law-abiding citizens as known to the best of our knowledge and to respect the state security apparatus that has been put in place to protect everybody. We also call on Civil Society and all peace actors to be active citizens and not mere spectators in matters that affect the safety and security of all of us, especially those of us in the Upper Region. As Peace loving people, we need more collective and collaborative efforts from all concerned to restore security and peace in Bawku and its Environs rather than singular efforts.
We pray that God grants the victims and their families as well as all those affected by these recent tragic incidents healing and inner peace.