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Operation Vanguard In Danger

Military and other national operations are usually launched with very specific objectives. These objectives are usually part of a broad mission that is given with time lines, whenever and wherever possible. The objectives are also to be spelt out in very accurate, brief and clear terms so that they can easily be measured by way of successes or failures or challenges.

In addition to several good policies initiated by the President, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, to improve the living conditions, well-being and welfare of Ghanaians (such as free Senior High School enrolment, restoration of allowances for trainee Nurses and teachers, construction of dams for communities, establishment or facilitation of establishment of factories in districts, provision of equivalent of one million dollars for each constituency for development projects, improvement in the administration of National Health Insurance and School Feeding programmes among others), Operation Vanguard (the fight against GALAMSEY) was launched a few months ago by the NPP Administration with vim and vigour.

The launching of Operation Vanguard was preceded by proper inter-Security Services planning and coordination.

The various stakeholders, such as the Ministries of Lands and Natural Resources, Local Government and Rural Development, Environment, Science and Technology, Defence, Interior, the Presidency and the National Security Secretariat were involved in the planning and coordination before the operation was launched.

With the support of the media, chiefs and the good people of Ghana, a programme of sensitization and education on the dangers of galamsey on the environment, health, safety, security and agriculture was undertaken for a reasonable time before the operation was launched. Expectations were therefore very high in terms of collaboration and cooperation between and among the stakeholders and the communities for the success of the operation.

The operation started in earnest but recorded some avoidable fatalities and collateral damages by way of death and destruction of property (machines, equipment, plant, tools, vehicles etc). Owing to the goodwill towards the execution of Operation Vanguard by the majority of Ghanaians (especially the intellectuals, well informed and right thinking members of society), the fatalities were accepted as some of the possible unintended consequences of a major operation of that magnitude.

That notwithstanding, the family of the deceased in the Obuasi (Ashanti Adansi) tragedy called for a transparent and thorough investigation into the circumstances of the death of their beloved family member. We on our part joined in the demand by the family for proper investigations into that avoidable tragedy just as was done in the Denkyira Obuasi case that led to the unfortunate death of Major Mahama.

We also called for restraint in the destruction of property used in the galamsey activities as those machines, equipment, plants and tools could be used in better ways in our national development. Since then we have not heard of or seen the institution of any Board of Inquiry or Police investigations into the death of the Ashanti Obuasi casualty. But we were glad to observe that no further destruction (burning of equipment, plants, machines and tools) of property suspected to be used in galamsey activities has been recorded. Neither have we recorded more deaths.

Operation Vanguard moved into full gear in only some selected regions especially Ashanti, Eastern and Western. Some remarkable successes have been chalked. Hundreds of galamsey activists have been arrested and processed for possible prosecution to demonstrate the seriousness that the government and the Security Services attach to the operation.

The media has been very supportive and has given prominent coverage to the operation in the various locations.

Visual and audio coverage of the Operation have been made available to the general public thereby reinforcing the damages that have been done and the dangers that they pose to our environment (the water bodies, flora, fauna and relief features and the general ecology) by the activities of galamsey.

Even the doubting Thomases have come to the realization that something urgent ought to, have to, and must be done about the threat of galamsey to our very survival (destruction of quality of oxygen, drinking water, arable land, timber for construction and dwelling places) as a people. There is therefore no doubt that the war on galamsey is a “MUST DO” indispensable operation demanding the support and cooperation of all or at least an absolute majority of Ghanaians.

With this understanding at the back of our minds we offered some useful suggestions on the rules of engagement citing the principles of legitimacy, necessity and proportionality. We may not have to repeat them or re-invent the wheel. But suffice it to say that our gallant security personnel must be constantly reminded of the three essential principles in the performances of their duties.

Additionally, we have had to draw the attention of the High Commands of the Security Services especially the Armed Forces, Police and National Security Secretariat to some unfortunate developments that are taking place in the execution of Operation Vanguard.

We had our initial suspicions and reservations about the selection of the Task Force Commander in the person of Colonel William Agyapong (GH/2431). This is one officer who is a dyed in wool member of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). He was of immense help to the NDC during the NDC regimes of Mills/Mahama.

He was used tremendously in the recruitment of NDC foot-soldiers when he was made the Commanding Officer of the Army Recruit Training School (ARTS) at Shai Hills. He was again very useful to the NDC as an Officer Commanding in one of the strategically located Battalions of the Ghana Army. He was used in undertaking all sorts of operations (overt and covert) to the advantage of the NDC.

During the later part of the Mahama Administration, he was made the Director of Army Administration at the Army Headquarters. He partnered Colonels Vander-Pallen, Kofi Adokor, Asiamah and Osabutey to effectively execute the agenda of recruiting in absolute terms foot-soldiers, members, supporters, sympathizers, family members and friends of NDC officials, officers, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Chief Directors, Directors, Chief Executives of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies.

He was very lucky to be retained by the NPP Administration of His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo as the Director of Army Administration until he was made the Task Force Commander of Operation Vanguard.

Owing to his links, connections and ties with the NDC, Colonel W Agyapong continued and is continuing to assist his political masters in the NDC. Owing to his deceptive name (one of the usual Akan rooted names) his real identity of Nyebro is not apparent and could pass for a pro-NPP or at worst a neutrally professional officer. And that is where the danger is.

Very unsuspecting members of the NPP Administration are tempted or persuaded to think that he is NPP compliant. Unfortunately, the truth is that he is not and has never been a NPP-compliant officer, not even during the father-for-all era of John Kufuor.

“A piece of wood floating on water will never turn into a crocodile no matter how long it stays in the water”. That is precisely how this Colonel W Agyapong has proved to be. Those who are quick to trace his “Akyem” roots and those of his wife are advised to revise their notes.

This is for the consumption of the Generals Okyeres, Sackeys, Akwas and the Captain Kodas.

Colonel W Agyapong has indeed joined the league of saboteurs in the Security Services as far as the interests of the NPP and the nation are concerned at this present time.

Readers may be wondering why we have gone to this extent to show the real identity of the Operation Vanguard Task Force Commander. From afar, this officer may look innocent, pleasant and warm looking. But from inside and within the officer is one of the most dangerous, treacherous and hypocritical that any reasonable right thinking members of our society (especially those in the NPP) could think of.

Information and Intelligence filtering in from the ranks of the Security personnel involved in the execution of Operation Vanguard and the communities within which they operate are very disturbing.

The integrity of the operation and those of the leadership of the operation have allegedly been seriously compromised. Some junior members of the Task Force have come to complain bitterly about some of the unhealthy developments surfacing in the operational areas thereby seriously threatening the harmony, esprit de corps, team work, efficiency and effectiveness of the Task Force.

The allegations are rife that powerful politicians (especially those from the NDC including former Ministers, Members of Parliament), former and serving members of the Security Services (the Armed Forces, Police and Others), chiefs, powerful businessmen and women have managed to influence the conduct of the operations.

These “influential members” of our society have succeeded in putting pressure, exerting their influence, using financial and other inducements to sabotage the conduct and execution of Operation Vanguard.

According to our sources, the leadership of the Task Force have been holding series of meetings with these “influential members” during which monies and other resources are given out to the leadership and members of the Task Force in order to turn blind eyes to activities of the galamsey activists.

Once the “private gains” are made, after these hurriedly and properly arranged meetings between the leadership of the Task Force and the “galamseyers”, already issued operational orders are varied to favour the operations of these galamsey activists. We are sad to state that the overall leader and the subordinate leaders of the various teams in the Task Force have had their names mentioned in these allegations.

According to some of the junior members of the Task Force, the leadership of the teams after collecting the “private gains” tend to order the teams to move to entirely different locations leaving the galasmey activists in the “critical areas” to continue their operations with impunity. Where the Task Force teams have to return to those critical areas, they only come at pre-arranged times by which time the galasmey activists would have completed their operations for the day.

In some instances, it is alleged that, the teams of the Operation Vanguard Task Force rather “prepare the grounds” for the galamseyers to follow later. “Thus, the trick is simple: members of Operation Vanguard will not go to areas where known “influential members” are operating. They would rather go to areas where no activities are taking place. They will not visit or patrol “critical areas” owned by the influential members. They will do so only after the galamseyers have left those locations.

The Task Force pretends to be working when in fact they are not. Intelligence given voluntarily by patriotic members of the communities are ignored completely where the actors are influential members of the community and have managed to establish meaningful contacts between themselves and the leadership and important members of the Task Force.

The Patriotic Concerned Officers and Men (PACOM) in the Task Force are really disappointed in their leadership. They are really crying for mother Ghana. Their fear is that the level of corruption that is creeping into Operation Vanguard will lead to a failure of the operation.

The series of battles to be fought in the war against galasmey may be lost. The initial successes are gradually giving way to failures and disappointments owing to the unpatriotic, selfish and inward looking attitude of the leadership and some members of the Task Force.

When challenged by some of the members of PACOM on the attitude of some of the leaders and members of the Task Force, the “compromised officers and men” (COMPOM) replied that owing to the esprit de corps among the “Officer Corps” and the need to be circumspect about dealings with powerful politicians and influential members of society and owing to the possibility of alternation in political power, they are unable to ignore the concerns and interests of these personalities.

The leaders said emphatically that they cannot predict the future and are therefore not going to side entirely with the current political leadership to the detriment of their professional progression in the near future. These comments are really disheartening, unfortunate, uncalled for, unpatriotic and diametrically opposite to the policies of the progressive administration of His Excellency, Nana Akufo-Addo.

In the course of our investigations we were able to establish some veracity in some of the allegations. Indeed, it is true that some very influential members of our society are deeply involved in the galasmey operations. Serving and retired members of the Security Services and the political landscape are behind and actively involved in some of the galasmey activities.

For instance, there is the case of one Captain John Djabari (GH/3456) of the 4th Battalion of Infantry in Kumasi. This officer, for some inexplicable reasons, has been permanently attached to the Jungle Warfare School (JWS) at Achaise, which fact he has exploited to be fully engaged in galamsey activities in and around the Bririm River in the Akyem Areas of the Eastern Region and Obuasi in the Ashanti Region.

According to our sources, this officer has been intermittently, and most times permanently, stationed at JWS Achiase since his Lieutenant days. He had the support and cover of very important personalities in the Mills/Mahama Administration. This Captain owns a Micro Finance Company and a storey of shops at Achiase. He is an estate developer and a transport fleet owner. He has a lot of vehicles-flashy ones of course and very many others which he changes with cheeky ease. He is alleged to have a senior brother of his retired from the Ghana Armed Forces to be the operational manager of his galamsey operations.

According to our sources, the various Commanding Officers of 4th Battalion especially Colonel Y Salifu and Lieutenant Colonel Arhin are aware of and complicit in his galamsey operations. So also are Officers Commanding at the Jungle Warfare School. This officer is reported to be more of a businessman than a professional Army officer. He is alleged to be “greasing the palms” of his immediate superiors handsomely such that his continuous retention at either JWS at Achiase or Obuasi as a Platoon Commander is always guaranteed. This officer has become so arrogant, disrespectful and boastful to the surprise of concerned officers and men. The wings that he grew during the era of former President John Mahama cannot be clipped.

He was feared and became untouchable during the Mills/Mahama era as he was alleged to be linked directly to then Vice President and later President Mahama. He was and is still linked to the Mahamas, especially Ibrahim, whose interests he is alleged to be protecting, for which he was given unfettered room to operate in the military. What members of PACOM cannot understand is the fact that this officer is still very powerful and untouchable even in the present administration.

Members of PACOM are quick to add that it is because nothing really has changed in the Ghana Armed Forces. The same GOCs are in charge of the Central and Northern Commands. The same NDC inclined Commanding Officers are in charge of 4Bn and the JWS in Kumasi and Achiase respectively.

We are also very reliably informed that Honorable Collins Dauda and his agents are deeply involved in galamsey activities in the Ahafo Areas of Brong Ahafo Region (even beyond his constituency). After depleting the trees in our forests, Honorable Collins Dauda has now shifted to our minerals. The painful thing is that he invests his fortunes in his fatherland, Burkina Faso, where his brother, Naaba, who confessed murdering several NPP supporters is comfortably residing currently enjoying his booty. We are monitoring Honorable Collins Dauda closely.

The same Army Secretary and the Military Secretary appointed during the Mahama era are still in charge of the Army Headquarters and General Headquarters respectively. In these circumstances not much could be done to tame these saboteurs of our national economy and the Security Services. What a pity!!

Just as all our previous calls for investigations, probes and accountability have fallen on deaf ears by the political and military leaderships of the Ministry of Defence, our present call for investigations into the activities of Operation Vanguard may also see no light. We take consolation, however, in the fact that, our prompt revelations are able to attract the requisite attention in the Security Services. Those who matter and feel strongly concerned about some of the issues that we raise occasionally act on some of them in an imperceptible manner. We pledge and promise to continue to draw the attention of the appropriate authorities to some of those inappropriate actions on the part of some members of leadership and rank and file of our Security Services.

We prefer taking the initiative to allowing the opposition papers such as the Informer, Republic and the Daily Post to seize the initiative. This way, we think, we are helping our own cause no matter the perception, not forgetting the fact that we may not have to wash our dirty linen in public. Self correction is better than imposed correction.

We are making this publication against the background that the NPP Administration, with an un-quenching determination to eliminate or reduce the incidence of galamsey operations to the barest minimum, has provided all the resources needed by the security services to execute “Operation Vanguard” with the clearest political will and support and military mission. So much effort went into the planning and consideration before the execution of “Operation Vanguard”.

The Security Services were asked to submit their operational and administrative requirements during the planning phase of the operation. Training of personnel about the objectives, mission and political dimensions of the operation was thoroughly done. With so much, in terms of resources, invested in the operation, it is only fair that the Task Force, the High Commands of the Security Services and the political echelons ensure that the operation becomes successful from all perspectives including the political objectives.

Any form of sabotage should be eschewed. Any form of inappropriate actions on the part of the leadership and rank and file of the Task Force should be avoided. The temptation to make private gains may arise from time to time but the professionals that they are, the members of the Task Force should resist them.

In their own interest and for purposes of winning and gaining the respect of our civil society and even that of the Security Services themselves, members of the Task Force are to decline any offers that border on private gains or corruption of morality and professionalism.

For what shall it profit members of the Security Services if they lose the respect that society has for them?

They become liable for prosecution before Trials by Disciplinary Boards, Courts Martial and the Civil Courts?

Our professionals should not forget about their reputations and the effect that tarnished reputations can have on themselves and their descendents of today and future generations. Once such malpractices or inappropriate actions are recorded in the Security books, they become points of reference and irreversible stigma that will follow them to their graves and beyond. So please, members of our community, do not lose your guard only for pittance or even handsome rewards of filth and dirt. Good names are better than riches, we believe.

To the “influential members” of our society (politicians, former members and current members of our Security Services, powerful chiefs, businessmen and opinion leaders), we say please desist from influencing members of the Task Force by way of inducements, pressure and all forms of morally reprehensible acts. We must all put our hands on deck, cooperate and assist one another to ensure that the battles and war against galamsey are won at every phase and stage of it for the sake of humanity, mother Ghana and future generations.

We may wish to state that one can only go to equity with clean hands. Since the hands of some of our leaders in this unique community of Security Services are tainted with inappropriate actions, they may do well to turn into completely new leaves or they should voluntarily retire or get released from the Services to enjoy their booty in peace.

We are reliably informed that the current Military Secretary of the Ghana Armed Forces wishes to victimize some two Commissioned officers who are perceived to be strong NPP sympathizers over issues relating to their ages. Much as we may not want to condone any form of wrongdoing, we wish to advise the Brigadier General that he should thread cautiously. He may not be clean himself.

Having entered the Ghana Military Academy in October 1983 after completing his Advanced Level Education of the General Certificate of Education of the West African Examinations Council now Brigadier General CK Gyasensir should know that most of his mates and seniors doctored their ages.

If he sincerely wishes to check on the ages of officers then he must start with himself, his Intake Mates (the Oforis, Kporkus, Aryees etc) and his seniors (the Fiawoos, Buligas, Akpatsus, Allohs etc). If it is a question of some officers changing their dates of birth while in the service, then he must know that this is not the first time. There are pieces of evidence to show that during the tenure of office of Colonel Akou-Adjei and Commodore Beick-Baffour as Army and Military Secretaries respectively a lot of those “doctorings” or “falsifications” happened.

Our sources indicate that some of them were at their blind sides while a sizeable number was done intentionally to enable certain favorites to attend courses such as War Colleges and Senior Comparative Courses in the preferred Countries such as United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, China, Canada and Nigeria.

The records are there to be verified. The pattern and trend of those who consistently had the opportunities to attend these courses are also available for verification. There is no doubt that those who were politically and ethnocentrically correct by the standards of the Akou-Adjeis and Beick-Baffours were from a certain angle and benefitted from doctoring of ages, grades on courses and other criteria.

So please be wary of the persecution that you have started.

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