Too Close For Comfort


“On April 20, 2023, JNIM attacked the Waldjouague village in northern Togo. This village is just about 15km away from Cinkase, which is a border town in Togo near Bawku in the Upper East Region. JNIM is gradually closing up in Bawku and will exploit the security challenges there if vigorous security measures are not put in place in Bawku to ward them off. JNIM has strong affiliations with the Fulani and normally will use this in getting info for their activities.”

The foregone is information a staff of an international organisation sent out to his friend, and which landed on our desk.

The proximity of JNIM and other jihadist actors operating in Burkina Faso close to our frontier is something known to our national security managers already. The preparedness of our security agents is also not in doubt. This is evidenced by an announcement about the formation of Forward Operating Bases upcountry in response to the security reality.

However, other loose ends which need tying abound.

How much education has been given to residents of border areas regarding the security challenges in their areas of residence and what to do when suspicious movements are noticed? This and other issues require attention if we are to live up to the task of countering any attack successfully.

Tackling such elements goes beyond conventional warfare and requires the cooperation of residents of the frontier settlements and towns.

A couple of days ago, President Akufo-Addo proffered notes on how to respond to the maritime security challenges along the Gulf of Guinea. This for us should include the security challenges unfolding upcountry.

One of the issues he raised was about the importance of collaboration among member countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea.

Fighting insurgents or jihadists whatever their nomenclature require such collaboration in order to register success.

Taking cover in a country from which to launch attack on a target state can only be thwarted through collaboration as in sharing of intelligence and joint military exercises.

The security challenges of the West African sub-region are not confined to the coastal areas but indeed as evidenced from the insecurity in landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, northern parts of Nigeria and Niger.

The sub-region is, as it were, enmeshed in insecurity, the occasional attacks by jihadists threatening the livelihoods of many a resident of especially the arid parts of the geographical areas under review and creating refugee management crisis for host countries.

The war against the jihadists and others in the sub-region will remain a long war if the individual country approach is not replaced by a sub-regional collaborative template.

The bad guys besides their sophisticated armouries have unlimited determination to cause maximum damage come what may.

The sovereignties of countries in the sub-region, vulnerable as they are, in the face of the marauding jihadists using their complex network, must be subdued and eliminated. Periodic simulation exercises involving all the security agencies of the sub-region should be considered, including the sharing of intelligence as pointed out earlier.