The Exercise under the Ministry of National Security code named “Home Shield” was aimed at practising and harnessing the various roles and expertise of all the stakeholders in the National Counter Terrorism Effort (NCTE) and was also to test their preparedness in the event of any terrorist attacks.
The exercise participants included the Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana National Fire Service, Bureau of National Investigation, National Security Council Secretariat, National Disaster Management Organisation, Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority, Financial Intelligence Centre, National Ambulance Service and Ghana Health Service.
Different simulation exercises were conducted simultaneously at the State Transport Corporation (STC) Bus Station at Circle, the Achimota New Bus Station, the Achimota Forest, Tema Ports and the Trade Fair Centre at La Accra.
At the STC Bus station scenario for instance, the onlookers looked anxious as people were evacuated from the yard, and the venue corded of, following a Police response to a distress call of a suspected bag containing an Improvise Explosive Device (IED) which had been deposited at the parcel area.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Bismarck Boakye Ansah, Deputy Commander at the National Counter Terrorism Unit of the Ghana Police Service who was in charge of that particular operation said that, the Police called in for technical support from the Military Service after assessing the item and confirming it contained an IED.
He said the Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit (EOD) were able to neutralise the device safely without any casualty recorded.
Colonel Eric Aggrey-Quarshie, Director, Directorate of Public Relations at the Ghana Armed Forces said that, the exercise had been successful considering the level of coordination from all the various Security Agencies to work as a team.
“When it comes to dealing with counter terrorism operations, it is not one Agency that deals with it; you need all hands because each has a separate role.
“You need to train and when you train you need to practise what you have trained that is why we are doing this. Because we have been training individually, the Military Counter Terrorism Unit have been conducting their training, the Police UDS, the Fire Service have way of handling their training, the Immigration Services but we need to find a situation where all of us can join together to operate as a team…So it is very important that we do some of these things to get common terminologies that we can use in operating together.”
He noted that the exercise was a good test for the country’s preparedness physically and psychologically for any eventuality because of recent recorded terrorist attacks in neighbouring countries within the West Africa Sub region such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
He said the exercise was going to continue every year to ensure that Ghana can protect herself or join multinational counter terrorism teams to deal with terrorist activities outside the country if the need arose.