PERSONNEL of the border patrol unit of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) are to be armed to help check the increasing cross-border crimes in the country.
Consequently, the ministries of the Interior and Defence have been tasked to draw up modalities for the take-off of the system to ensure that those who will be involved do not misuse the power and weapons given them.
The Minister of the Interior, Mr Cletus Avoka, who disclosed this at a meeting with officers and men of agencies under his ministry in Kumasi last Saturday, noted that quite often personnel of the border patrol unit had come under attack from criminals but could not defend themselves.
He, therefore, expressed the hope that arming them would put them in a better position to face the criminals along the country’s borders.
Mr Avoka, who was on an official tour of the region, called on the GIS to expedite action on the processing of documents and also treat visitors, who could be potential investors, with respect.
The minister stressed that the government was satisfied with the performance of the security agencies in the Ashanti Region with respect to fighting crime, and called for the strengthening of the police-military patrols to be able to deal effectively with armed robbery and related crimes.
He stated that the government was on top of the security situation in the country and that efforts were being made to tackle the pockets of disturbances in some of the areas.
He stated that even though no shoot-to-kill policy had been adopted, the police had every right to return fire when they came under attack from armed robbers and other criminals.
"And in the event if the suspected criminal who so engaged the police dies, the police cannot be blamed," he stressed, adding that "it is when armed robbery has not been brought to your doorsteps that you'll condemn the police when they kill robbers".
Mr Avoka emphasised that the decision by the police administration to suspend recruitment into the service was as a result of accommodation problems and added that the government was doing everything possible to bring some sanity into the accommodation situation.
He said personnel of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) with the requisite qualification and discipline would be drafted for training in the police service and the other security agencies.
On the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Mr Avoka said recent fire outbreaks in the country had informed the government about the need to resource the service "or we face doom as a country".
Consequently, the President has directed the Fire Service Council to present proposals on the procurement of equipment for immediate action to be taken on them.
He directed all government agencies to take steps to review the electrical wiring in their buildings to make sure that the structures were safe.
Mr Avoka described the GH¢60p daily feeding grant per prisoner as woefully inadequate and gave the assurance that the government would review it upwards.
He also touched on the law establishing the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and said the law would be amended to turn the organisation into a service organisation to enable it to enjoy a support similar to the Ghana Police Service.
Welcoming the minister, the Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP Patrick Timbillah, mentioned inadequate office and residential accommodation, lack of communication and transport as some of the challenges facing the police in the region and called on the minister to help address them.
He said the police needed to expand their presence in Kumasi to move in tandem with the fast development of the metropolis.
He gave the assurance that the police-military patrols would be intensified to fight crime in the region.