30.01.2024 Feature Article

Silencing The Guns In Bawku: A First Step In Resolving The Conflict

Silencing The Guns In Bawku: A First Step In Resolving The Conflict
30.01.2024 LISTEN

The conflict in Bawku has claimed a lot of lives, destroyed many properties, chased many workers away, rendered many women, widows and many children, orphans. The government has also spent a lot of tax payers' money in curbing the conflict. The conflict has made Bawku lost its status as a viable and vibrant economic town in the Upper East Region. Something has to be done to completely resolve the issue to bring Bawku back to life. In every conflict resolution, there must be a starting point and that starting point is silencing the guns because the feuding factions cannot comfortably be called to the mediation table whiles killings of each other continue.

I believe strongly that for the government and other stakeholders to make a headway in the Bawku conflict, the guns must be kept silent. It would not be an easy task but it is unavoidable option. It demands impartial and strategic leadership from government, major stakeholders and as well as high level of commitment from both feuding factions. I suggest the following measures be taken to silence the guns.

1. Demystifying the notion that the conflict can be resolved through gun battle (war). The mentality that the conflict can be resolved by a way of conquering the other is a nonstarter. It is not possible for one party to overpower the other and intend chase their adversaries away and take over the town. It cannot happen in this modern day Ghana where the rule of law exists. I think if this notion were to be practicable, by now, one party would not have been in Bawku. It is just telling the feuding factions that so far as the resolution of the conflict is concerned, fighting each other would not resolve the issue. The feuding factions must understand that no one wins in a conflict. In a battle of war both sides record causalities. The factions must know that one day the conflict will be resolved but by then the lives lost and destructions caused would be irreversible. How are the orphans and widows of those who are killed through this conflict surviving? Those who are sponsoring the warriors, do they attend the funerals of the deceased neither to talk of visiting the bereaved families with support? It is logical for us to understand that the gun battle cannot make or unmake anyone a chief in Bawku unless due process.

2. Blockage of the supply chain of the ammunition. Another key way to silencing the guns is to block the route of supply of the ammunition. Bawku as a town does not have ammunition manufacturing company. Definitely, the ammunition are procured somewhere and transported to the community for this conflict. The security services must consciously intensify search for any illicit arms enroute to Bawku. This should be done at all entry points to Bawku without any biases. Anyone who falls victim of such crime should be made to face the full rigour of the law without any interference whatsoever from any quarters.

3. Identifying the financiers and conflict-prenuers of the conflict. In every conflict, there are people who finance the conflict by purchasing of ammunition and provision of other various support to sustain the conflict. The available sources of funding the conflict should be identified and those behind that dealt with drastically to serve us deterrent for others to desist from that. There are another category of people who benefit from the conflict and do not want it to end. There are people who are described as conflict-prenuers. They are those who sell the illicit arms to the people. They get their daily bread from the sale of the arms whiles the affected people suffer the consequences in the hands of the eventual abusers. Such people must be identified and dealt with accordingly. There are other group of people called politicians who politically benefit from such conflicts. I have a strong opinion that if government is committed to silencing the guns such people should be tracked and apprehended.

4. Arresting and prosecution of the bandits. The final destination of the arms are in the hands of the bandits who perpetuate the violence. The bandits who are carrying the ammunition around and causing harm to people within the Bawku Traditional Area should be tracked and arrested. The culprits should be fairly and impartially dealt with. What is hindering the fight against silencing the guns sometimes is the release of culprits after arrest without putting them through full trial. This emboldens the bandits to perpetuate more unpardonable and heinous crimes to individuals. This could be the reason why the bandits have the audacity to attack the security personnel when the security personnel sometimes confront them. It is unfortunate some of those actions happen just few meters away from a police station. The bandits must be disarmed and dealt with accordingly.

5. Citizens involvement. Security services as we all know cannot be at everywhere and hence, they sometimes need the assistance of the civilians to carry out their work. The government launched an initiative dub 'See something, Say something'. It is the responsibility of each and everyone to ensure the safety of himself or herself and the safety of other citizens. Insecurity in any part of the country is a concern to all citizens, hence, any unusual activities or illegal ammunition spotted by any citizen should be reported to the security services for appropriate intervention.

6. Retrieval of illegal arms and ammunition in circulation. Another strategy government can employ is the voluntary surrendering of illegal weapons in circulation for possibly attractive incentives. This can be employed after the factions agree to silence the guns and should be done in good faith. A level playing ground should be provided with clear-cut guidelines and unflinching assurances that the weapons will not find their way back to the community at the behest of powerful individuals.

In conclusion, all parties involved must appreciate that peace is necessary for the survival of mankind and a chief does not rule animals but human beings. All must see to it that the sporadic shooting of guns are stopped to the benefit of all. Government, major stakeholders and politicians in general should exhibit good faith in the resolution of the conflict by allowing the state machineries to carryout their independent and objective services without any political interferences. Silencing the guns in Bawku is possible.

I Stand for Peace in Bawku
Thank you
Alhaji Salifu Hadara
A Citizen of Ghana
North East Region
[email protected]