Mr Mustapha Sinto, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Capacity Enhancement and Community Support (CAPECS), has urged residents of rural communities to interrogate strangers that they find in their communities in the wake of the threat of violent extremist activities.
He said violent extremists could visit their communities in disguise or as people with mental illness to understudy the community to enable them perpetuate their nefarious activities on those communities.
“We are not saying you should beat them. What we are saying is that you interrogate them, and find out who they are and what they want.
Some people can come as made people. Question them too”, Mr Sinto said at a sensitization programme at Kpanfaa and Tuole communities in the Wa West District.
The sensitization formed part of the implementation of the Mobilising for Peace and Cohesion (MPC) project by the CAPECS in selected border communities in the Wa West and Sissala West Districts.
It was under the COGINTA’s “Preventing Electoral Violence and Providing Security to the Northern Border Regions of Ghana” (NORPREVSEC) programme with funding from the European Union (EU).
The 10-month project sought to increase women’s engagement and their involvement in the peace-building process and community development through their effective involvement in local development committees.
Mr Sinto entreated the community folks to identify and interrogate people, especially youth of the communities who suddenly exhibited strange behaviors such as avoiding friends and acquiring unexplained wealth and assist them appropriately as they could have links with violent extremist groups.
He also stressed the need for peaceful co-existence among the community members as a prerequisite for preventing the infiltration of people with negative intentions such as violent extremists into the community.
He observed that chieftaincy, land, and political disputes were breading grounds for violent extremist activities to thrive and cautioned the people against that, saying, “The only thing that Ghana can use to prevent terrorist attacks is unity and peace in our communities.”
Mr Sinto encouraged the community members to take the education of their wards very seriously as that was the gateway to their personal and community development.
He said: “The project is to contribute to the prevention of violent extremism and to promote peaceful farmer-pastoralist co-existence in border communities in the Wa West and Sissala West Districts of the Region.
Mr Thomas Tindan Gurumbeog, the Upper West Regional Grant Manager for COGINTA, encouraged the people to resolve conflicts amicably through dialogue rather than the use of “guns and machetes”.
The people in the beneficiary communities did not mince words to thank CAPECS, COGINTA, and their partners for choosing the Kpanfaa and Tuole communities to benefit from the project.
Mr Charles Saavroma, a visually impaired man who was the community mobiliser at Kpanfaa, indicated that through the project the community, especially the women had eschewed petty quarrels and embraced unity.
He added that it had also helped revived the nearly collapsed elementary school in the community as parents had enrolled their wards and ensured they stayed in school.
“I pray God to bless them (CAPECS) for them to continue with their good works so we all can reap the benefits from their activities”, Mr Saavroma said.