Every nation can only develop if there is peace and safety for its citizens and its territorial integrity is assured. Citizens can go about their lives normally, and strive to improve upon the quality of their lives and their circumstances when the security of the state is guaranteed.

In recent years, there is hardly any day without news on the threats of violent extremism and terrorism (VET) in the West African Sub-Region. Countries surrounding Ghana and the coastal states bordering the Gulf of Guinea have recently either witnessed attacks or identified the presence of terrorist groups and their activities within their jurisdictions.

Given this, the NCCE Krachi East Municipal office with support from the Krachi East Municipal Assembly organized a stakeholder’s forum at the Church of Pentecost Dambai Central Assembly on the role of citizens in ensuring a peaceful and violent free Municipality. Participants were drawn from the Ghana Revenue Authority-Customs Division, Ghana Commercial Bank Plc, Persons Living with Disability, Assembly Members, Susu Groups, representatives of political parties and the Media. Others included Okada Riders, Drivers, Carpenters, Welders, Barbers, Traders Tailors/Hairdressers, and Canoes Owners Associations. The rest were Civic Club Members, Heads of Departments, Traditional Authorities, the Muslim Council, the Local Council of Churches and the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council. In all, 170 stakeholders participated in the forum.

The NCCE Oti Regional Director, Mr. Robert Boame speaking at the programme said NCCE recently conducted research in the five Northern Regions, and three adjoining regions; Oti, Bono East and Bono to assess the knowledge of the people about violent extremism. He said the outcome of the research revealed that just a few people are aware of VET, and the youths and women are most at risk of violent extremism while Oti Region was the most tolerant region among the eight research Regions.

He, therefore, advised the youth to stay away from anything that will not bring peace to their communities. He also cautioned Landlords/Landladies to do a background check about tenants before giving out their rooms for rentals. The Regional Director added that Chieftaincy, land disputes and partisan politics are issues likely to trigger violent extremism and urged religious leaders, chiefs and politicians to be ambassadors of peace.

Mr. Clement Kwesi Mamadu, Krachi East Municipal Director of NCCE while addressing the gathering said women seem peaceful but are sometimes used for violent extremism and appealed to the women to always be careful of utterances that may push their children to join violent extremist groups for monetary gains. He admonished drivers at the meeting to check their passengers well before boarding their cars for safety purposes.

He said, kidnapping, suicide bombings and pirating are some of the modes of operation of extremist groups and advised participants to be extra vigilant in places where large numbers of people gather such as funerals, lorry stations, shops, markets, festivals, and schools. Mr. Mamadu added that participants monitor strangers and people with queer characters in their community and report to the security agencies by calling 999, 191 or 18555 as in the national security slogan ‘If you see something, say something’.

Contributing to the programme, the Municipal Coordinating Director, Issahaku Yakubu who represented the Municipal Chief Executive, Hon. Bernard Aboakogya Mensah, said education is key in preventing violent extremism. He bemoaned the practice where parents leave their children (youth) to stay late in the night mingling with different kinds of groups that are likely to fuel violent acts. He concluded by edging leaders to help address the issues of Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the Municipality.

The head Pastor of the Dambai Central Church of Pentecost, Pastor Michael Osei-Frimpong who spoke on inter-faith tolerance encouraged participants to accept the beliefs and practices of every Religion in the Municipality since that is the only way peace can be ensured at all times. He intimated that the effects of war and misunderstanding undermine development, hence the need to practice peace and not only to speak peace.

Mr. Samuel Opoku of the Ghana Commercial Bank Plc Dambai branch also encouraged participants to take advantage of their numerous banking products and develop the habit of savings for the future of their children now.

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