MINISTER FOR Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, has appealed to the youth engaged in violent conflict in Bawku to cease using violence and lay down their weapons, while soliciting the cooperation of Members of Parliament (MPs) to promote peace in the area.
According to him, over 30 people have died as a result of the Bawku conflict since December 2022, noting, “Bawku is not what we used to know three years ago.
“We should all help plug the loopholes and cure the issues of Bawku. Because Bawku can lead Ghana into an abyss; an abyss where terrorists can infiltrate into Ghana,” the minister said in Parliament yesterday.
He was responding to a statement made on the floor by Mahama Ayariga, the Bawku Central MP, who accused the military of killing the father of 12-year-old Sumaila Jafaru in a garden at Baratinga, a suburb of Missiga Electoral Area in Bawku Municipality.
The MP stated, among other things, that some eyewitnesses recounted the incident to him and said they saw men in military uniform who chased the boy and shot at him but missed, claiming that the military had been accused of killing ten people.
However, the minister dismissed the allegations, stating that he wanted to give the personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) the benefit of the doubt until investigations proved otherwise.
“The law of Ghana says you are innocent until proven guilty. Investigations are being carried out. If there is anybody who is found guilty, that person will be punished. I will want to give you that assurance,” Mr. Nitiwul asserted.
He added, “But let all of us work carefully and conscientiously build Bawku into a peaceful area. Because the issue of chieftaincy is no longer available in the area; it is not there.”
The minister also wants MPs to help members of the GAF to bring peace to Bawku, intimating, “Help the military and the security agencies so that the boys can lay down their arms. They can silence the guns.”
“Please, use your voices and appeal to them to silence their guns. Use your influence and appeal to the people to silence the guns. Use your influence as Members of Parliament to appeal to the people to lift the artificial boundaries that have been created in Bawku. Use your influence to allow people to go to their farms and market unhindered. Use your influence to allow people to travel without being accompanied by soldiers,” he appealed.
He stated that many of the youth in Bawku own AK47 and machine guns, and urged them to sell the weapons and use the proceeds to conduct business.
Bawku is the site of numerous violent conflicts, which endanger human and national security and impede economic growth.
Peace and stability, according to the minister, are necessary for development, and he urged the people of the area to prioritise dialogue-based conflict resolution mechanisms.
Other MPs, on the other hand, said there was a need to reduce military force in such situations, calling for functioning mechanisms for peaceful conflict resolution in all areas of society to promote a culture of peace and tolerance among the people.
BY Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House