SHOWING COMPASSION TO TWO AT THE PERIL OF MANY; A RECKLESS DECISION

BY FRANK KYEI BAFFOUR

The hosting of two ex Guantanamo detainees in Ghana has set tongues wagging in every corner of the country. The two, Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef and Khalid Shayk Mohammed are known to have trained with the terrorist group Al Qeda and have been detained for fourteen years. They have been transferred to Ghana on the request of the USA.

Terrorism being a prime heated issue has over the years gained the attention of many in other parts of the world. It is sad to say that, terrorist groups have caused havoc to many in other parts of the world. This should be a reason to keep countries which have not fallen prey to terrorism to be kept on their toes .The Al-Shabab of Somalia and Kenya, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroun, Houthi rebels in Yemen among other groups have caused havoc to many and are known to be dangerous.  Again, the recent terrorist attacks in Mali, France and other parts of the world cannot be left out in discussing terrorism. According to the 2014 edition of the Global Terrorism Index from the Institute of economics and peace, the world experienced a 61% increase in terrorist attacks within a single year. Worrying as this may be, the president of Ghana has welcomed two ex- detainees known or suspected to be notorious terrorists. This was an agreement between the USA and Ghana to host these two ex-detainees for two years. It was initially made known to Ghanaians that, their stay here would be at the expense of the USA, however it is reported that Ghana would partly bear the cost.

Ever since the news was broken to Ghanaians that, these two ‘’suspected’’ criminals have been hosted by the government of Ghana, many have been enveloped in fear. This is because Ghanaians are privy to the many terrorist attacks in other parts of the world and the dire consequences of terrorism. The president used his executive powers to take a unilateral decision in welcoming these people to Ghana. This has not gone well with some Ghanaians while other parliamentarians have concluded that, the president did not show respect to Ghanaians in taking such a unilateral decision.

Due to the weight the issue carries, many have been left with no other choice than to voice their opinions out. The Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, the Catholic Bishop conference and other stakeholders have made their opinions known.  Dr. Vladimir Antwi an international relations expert also added his voice to it and made it known the dire consequences this could bring the nation.

They have all staunchly expressed their objection to this decision. Unfortunately, the public outcry seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Government officials including the chief imam have however supported this decision in the wake of this outcry.

Hannah Tetteh, minister of foreign affairs, Mark Woyongo ,minister of interior claim they aren’t privy to some of the details surrounding the coming into Ghana of the two terror ‘’suspects’’. Yet these are the people who have come to the defence of the stay of these criminal ‘’suspects’’ in the country claiming they pose ‘’little’’ risk to the country. If indeed these people pose ‘’little’’ or no threat, why are they kept under surveillance and monitoring every day? Why don’t they leave them to live and move freely in the country? Will any of these government officials be willing to keep them in their houses? Will they for once learn some lessons from what is happening in other countries as a result of terrorism?

The president has denied taking something from the USA in its request to host these detainees. However, it seems so obvious to many Ghanaians that this offer was triggered by a quid pro quo. Even if keeping these people in Ghana was devoid of pecuniary compensation as claimed by the president; what was the rationale behind their stay in Ghana?

The president could not give any answer than telling Ghanaians that he is only showing compassion to the two ex-detainees as a Christian. It’s good to be compassionate and we do not deny this fact. He should however consider these before he reaches a conclusion on compassion: The God he claims to serve brought punishment upon Adam and Eve for their disobedience and this has continued from generations to generations; he destroyed the earth with flood; he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah; he destroyed the first born sons of Egypt; he destroyed the city of Jericho. He will come back and on judgement day, cast the unrighteous into the lakes of fire.  It is though admitted that, he brought Jesus Christ to die for our sins but he punished his people for disobedience. Is he more compassionate than the God he’s a mere servant to, the most gracious and ever merciful one? Is the president more Christian than the Americans?  If it is about compassion, then Ghanaians should be the first to enjoy it not foreigners because charity begins at home. Our opinions may vary, but the president should not show compassion to two foreigners at the peril of over twenty-five million citizens of the country.  Is the government not exposing its gullibility in taking this decision and subjecting itself to ridicule in the eyes of Americans?

The risk of every venture determines its returns as financial laws put it. In other words the higher the risk, the higher the returns  and vice versa. In our situation, the risk is very high and the returns does not match it in any way. If indeed huge sum of money was taken to host these people, it would be worth considering the returns and the security threat the nation puts itself. In 2007, the US department of defence assessed Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef as‘’ a high risk as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies, medium threat from a detention perspective and of high intelligence value.’’  These are ‘’suspected’’ criminals the USA which has all the security gadgets and intelligence are rejecting. Why have we chosen to play with the exposed fangs of a deadly snake when even the blind around us have briskly walked away? How on earth do we choose to suffocate in carbon monoxide when our whole body is immersed in a sea of unadulterated oxygen? If the two ex-detainees pose little or no risk, why have they chosen to send them to Ghana? Do we have to swallow everything from the USA in acquiescence? Do they consider themselves more human than us or do they breathe a different air? It is of interest to note that, the USA as well endowed as it is has never taken the risk upon itself to keep them. They see the future to be bleak in keeping them. The question that would be left unanswered in the minds of Ghanaians is, even if the USA as well resourced as it is has walked away, why Ghana a less endowed country?

It goes without saying that our politicians wait for problems to spiral out of control before they put in measures to curb them. The background of these people are enough to reject them and their presence in Ghana adds no value but a security threat. The USA has brought these people here at the detriment of Ghanaians and it would be very necessary for the president to act swiftly by rescinding his decision. Every good leader does not take a decision that would put his people in danger. I believe it’s for this reason Barack Obama did not keep the ex-detainees in the USA.

It is high time parliamentarians, civil society organisations, opinion leaders, chiefs and all other Ghanaians raise a resolute objection against the unilateral decision taken.

Source: Frank Kyei Baffour (frakyeb@gmail.com)

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