5 January 2010

Ghana: Swedru Riot Provokes Residents of Region

Cape Coast — The recent fighting that broke out between the Zongo Community of Agona Swedru and the inhabitants of the town during the Christmas celebration, has provoked some residents in the region to call on the Minister of Defence, Brigadier General John Henry Smith (rtd), to, as a matter of urgency, establish a military barracks in the Central Region to beef up security there.

Some inhabitants of Swedru, who spoke to the Central File, lamented that if there was a military barracks in the Region, the security authority would not have gone for reinforcement from the Jungle Warfare School at Achiase in the Eastern Region, and the 64 Battalion from Accra, to calm the situation after the police had been overwhelmed by the mob action.

In the ensuing riot, one Mahammadu Iddrisu, who was said to be mentally-challenged, attacked people indiscriminately at a drinking spot, but was overpowered by some vigilante youth who beat him to death.

This ignited fighting among the Zongo Community and the indigenes, where five people sustained various injuries, and one Kweku Acheampong, a taxi driver, lost his life through a stray bullet.

The Central Regional Minister, Mrs. Ama Benyiwa Doe, visited the trading city to ascertain the security situation, and in the process pleaded with Swedru chiefs and Zongo leaders to call for calm among their people.

She called for investigations into the riot, and warned that anybody found culpable, would face full rigours of the law.

Mrs. Benyiwa Doe visited the victims at the Swedru Government Hospital and wished them a speedy recovery.

She donated GH¢500 on behalf of the Central Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) to support the feeding of the injured.

The Medical Doctor of the hospital, Dr. Sakyi Appiah, who received the money, thanked the Minister and her entourage for the kind gesture.

The Omanhen of the Agona Swedru Traditional Council, Nana Kweku Botwe, and his chiefs decried the behaviour of police in Swedru, and also that of the soldiers who were brought from Achiase.

According to him, the police and the soldiers rather brutalised the local inhabitants, claiming that some of the police intentionally arrested some of his people and extorted monies from them.

One Inspector Amoah's name was mentioned for taking GH¢50 from a boy, and Nana Botwe had to go and retrieve the money from him. The money was shown to the Regional Minister at his Palace.

Nana Botwe called for the transfer of any police personnel who had spent two years in the city, saying "they were too corrupt," and also expressed concern about the behaviour of the Zongo communities in the Agona Traditional Area, citing rioting at Nsaba, Tinkorang and Nyarkrom, where properties were destroyed.

The Zongo Chief, Nana Diffa, denied his people's involvement in the riot, and pleaded with the youth to refrain from violent acts.

However, the Central Regional Deputy Police Commander, ACP Lartey, told the press that the Regional Police Command would investigate the extortion allegation brought against the police.

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