My brother Ambrose Dery from Kokoligu, I went to some border posts and unapproved routes in the Northern Sector and interacted with some of your Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) Staff.
I can’t believe seeing and hearing some of the challenges facing the GIS staff. Aargh!!!
The GIS staff boasted that they are the first line of defence in Border Control Management and Counter-Terrorism Operations in the Northern Sector. In fact, in Namon and Woriyanga, I noted that the GIS staff perform additional responsibilities of Police men in the communities. Namoo is 13 km from the nearest Police station at Bongo. And Woriyanga is 14 km from the nearest Police station at Garu.
They said that in August, 2019, the Comptroller-General of GIS (CGI) toured 25 locations including Regional and District offices, border posts and unapproved routes in the Northern Sector. His trip took him to Bole, Wa, Lawra, Nandom, Tumu, Hamile, Kokoligu, Gwolu, Tumu among other places.
They said the GIS Boss’ tour was imperative “to enable him gather first hand information on activities at the borders and be abreast with the operational challenges.”
My brother Ambrose Dery, could you kindly find out from the CGI whether he got adequate information on the following issues:
Appointment Cards (or Identity Cards)
The GIS staff revealed that when you visit the Kotoka International Airport or the GIS Headquarters, you could easily notice that GIS staff have Appointment Cards.
Regrettably, they said that some staff in the Northern Sector who are engaged in border control management and counter-terrorism operations don’t have Appointment Cards.
My brother Ambrose Dery, this is a serious matter, or?
They said the GIS has had Intakes 1 to 26, but some staff in Intakes 22- to 26 do not have Appointment Cards, especially those posted to remote border posts. Some of them say they have not had ID cards in over 15 years.
(1). How do GIS officials’ identities get verified by their colleagues from the Military, Police FPU and the NIB who are involved in counter-terrorism operations?
(2). How could GIS officials’ identities be verified and cross referenced with data in Accra HQ and other Operational HQ should their ranks be infiltrated by smart thinking extremists/ terrorists and other cross border criminals?
(3). In other words, how do you my brother Minister of Interior from our Kokoligu village near the Burkina Faso border, verify the identity of an extremist/terrorist or a cross border criminal in a GIS uniform?
(4). I was told that the GIS dispatches officials from Accra to go on monitoring and auditing operations. How are their identities verified by their colleagues at the remote border posts?
(5). How do GIS officials introduce themselves when they cross the border to buy some household items in the markets in the neighbouring countries?
My brother Ambrose Dery, the following quote is an unedited response of a GIS staff when I questioned him on how he introduces himself when he crosses the border into a neighbouring country:
“Hmmm sir, we are always disgrace by our colleagues at the other nations not even our sister securities in Ghana, but the other side. If you want to buy something you are forced to wear uniform otherwise if they asked of your ID card and you don’t have they will not allow you to go and buy what you want.”
In May, 2021, it was reported that a GIS staff from Mognori went across the border to buy some items at Bittu in Burkina Faso. He was ambushed together with other travellers by an armed gang. He had no way of identifying himself except the uniform he was in. He was mistaken by the armed gang to belong to one of the Burkinabe Security Agencies and he was about to be shot dead when one of the criminals shouted that his uniform was from Ghana and not Burkina Faso. The GIS staff was lucky he was only robbed of all his money and his life spared to live to narrate his ordeal to me when we met in Bawku.
The threat of extremists and terrorists is real and closer to Ghana than the GIS officials can imagine. In the Upper West Region, killing of Ivorian soldiers by Islamist militants took place about 50 km from the border. In the Upper East Region, terrorists/bandits activities are as close as between 10 to 20 km away from Ghana’s border. Recently, on 12th November, 2021, there was a spillover of possible militant violence into the Konandji Prefecture of Togo near the border with Burkina Faso.
The GIS can not afford to risk its operations by over looking fine margins such as provision of Appointment Cards to its staff.
Torch lights, Rain Coats, Boots, Uniforms, Service Rank, Lanyards, Name Tags
My brother Ambrose Dery, on 2nd August, 2021, the GIS announced that it had promoted four of its staff who had shown great commitment to duty and patriotism by remaining at and securing their duty post during heavy down pour without any protective clothing.” What a shame? You can’t supply rain coats to the GIS?
I was not surprised when some GIS staff told me that they buy torch lights, rain coats, service rank, lanyards (I wonder what that is), name tags, boots, inners, socks, etc.
I present below unedited accounts of some GIS officials who spoke with me on the condition of anonymity:
“We are buying almost everything. Example, we buy Boots, uniform materials at Abena Wahab Store at Accra. touch lights, rain coats and almost everything we buy everything.”
Other GIS staff said some of their colleagues at the Stores Department in Accra send the items to their friends to sell to the GIS staff in the outstations.
“If you see any Immigration officer currently looking smart, that means that the person bought the items,” one staff said.
The GIS staff said the CGI has cancelled “Medicals and Rent Allowances.” Therefore, any staff who is sick whether he is stationed at Hamile or Tumu or Namoo or Sapeliga or Kulungugu or Polmakom or Woriyanga has to travel to a GIS clinic in Accra to seek medical attention.
My brother Ambrose Dery, this directive does not sit well with your GIS staff.
To buttress their point, they cited an incident in which one of their colleagues, a DSI at the Accounts office at the GIS HQ, collapsed and was rushed to the Ridge Hospital instead of the GIS clinic. They wondered why another sick official in Hamile or Tumu has to travel all the way to the clinic in Accra for medical treatment.
Rent Allowance, Transfer Allowance, Uniform Allowance
Some of the GIS staff conceded that their bosses have introduced a uniform allowance which is good news for them.
Others also talked about cancellation of rent allowances, which were scheduled to be paid quarterly but the payments got delayed.
Others also talked about being asked to go on transfers “with immediate effect,” but their transfer grants are not paid “with immediate effect.”
Weapons, handcuffs, pepper spray, motorbikes, and vehicles
Some of the officials said that during his duty tour, the CGI gave assurances that their concerns and challenges would be addressed. So, they look forward to having weapons and ammunition, handcuffs, pepper spray, motorcycles and vehicles to enhance their operational capabilities.
One of the staff summarised his frustrations with GIS transportation in this unedited quotation:
“Our transport section too is not helping the service. The few cars that we are managing too almost 80% are not in good condition. Any command post you go you will see machines packed without operating. The motorbikes they brought almost 70% of them are packed without using. They are spoiled.”
Investments in GIS Projects
My brother Ambrose Dery, I noticed what appears to be an information sharing gap in the GIS.
Accordingly, I suggest that the Board and Management of GIS should endeavour to hold periodic staff durbars, clinics and consultations to explain the efforts of the Government and its Development Partners to invest in enhancing the quality of manpower and operational capabilities of the GIS.
The GIS staff must be provided adequate information on some of the following projects:
A 5 million euro EUTF project to strengthen border security
As you are aware, the project is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and is being implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and it is aimed at strengthening border management and security in Ghana.
Strengthening border security and border community resilience in the Gulf of Guinea Project
Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, the project aims to strengthen border management capabilities at selected posts in northern regions of Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
The project interventions will include renovation/construction of five border posts, including installation of renewable energy sources, and the building of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities. An IOM developed border management system called the Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) will be installed to support the digital processing of travellers information, including to analyse travellers data, to verify traveller identity, and to cross reference travellers identity against watch lists.
EU countries/GIS collaborative projects
The GIS collaborates with some EU countries to implement strategic projects aimed at effective management of migration in Ghana. Examples are the GIS-Danish Project, the GIS-UK Project, the GIS-Spanish Project, Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach Project.
My brother Ambrose Dery, I shall return with an account of the hard work some GIS staff are putting in at Sapeliga, Mognori, Bawku, Kulungugu, and Woriyanga.
23rd November, 2021
Owula Mangortey appears on Fridays (8: 30-10: 00) on #asaasebreakfastshow @AsaaseRadio 99.5FM.