Military Excesses May Derail Peace Efforts in Upper East Ghana: Religious Leaders

Bishop Alfred Agyenta of Ghana's Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese . Credit: Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese

Religious leaders have expressed concern about the recent violence meted by military against civilians in Garu, Upper East Ghana, saying the excesses are likely to slow down peace efforts in the region.

Soldiers allegedly raided Garu on November 29 in what appears to be a reprisal attack following an assault on some national security intelligence officers deployed in the area. 

In a statement that was shared with ACI Africa Wednesday, November 8, Bishop Alfred Agyenta of Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese said he views the acts of military brutality in the region with “grave concern” and condemns “in no uncertain terms the brutalities meted out to civilians in the area.” 

The statement was co-signed by Bishop Agyenta and Alhaji Sumaila Issaka, Chairman of Ghana’s Upper East Regional Peace Council.

The two religious leaders said that the development in the embattled region, if not handled well, “will hamper the needed cooperation between the residents and the security personnel in countering violent extremism.”


They said that the brutalities perpetrated by the soldiers “have the grave potential of defeating the much-needed collaboration and mutual trust between the security personnel and the citizenry in dealing with the violent extremism that is knocking on our borders.”

One person was killed and at least 200 others injured during the military operation.

On November 8, youth in Garu and Tempane held peaceful protests demanding justice for the victims of the brutalities. 

In their statement, the religious leaders have appealed to the Ghanaian government to initiate an independent investigation into the incidents involving the National Intelligence personnel and the youth of Garu, on the one hand, and the military and the youth on the other.

“We also call on the Government, as a matter of urgency, to take the necessary steps to ensure that those who were injured in the incidents receive the needed medical attention and to guarantee the safety of those who have been arrested,” they say. 

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The religious leaders also call on the Ministry of National Security and the Ghana Armed Forces to ensure that their approach to restoring security and peace in the region “has more professional touch and not the use of brutal force so that in the course of their work the dignity of the human person is always respected.” 

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.