15 January 2013

Ghana: Bawku Explodes Again

Bawku — When the military in Bawku embarked on an operation to clamp down on wee smokers and peddlers in their hideout last Saturday, little did they know that their operation could lead to sporadic gunshots in the conflict-prone town.

As a result of the shooting, 35-year-old Osman Shaibu was hit by a stray bullet in his left ribs, and is receiving treatment at the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital.

In an interview with The Chronicle, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Bawku, Mr. Musah Abdullai, explained that the military detected that a group of people were smoking and peddling Indian hemp around the Ghana Commercial Bank area, and subsequently dispersed them.

The MCE said a few minutes after the action of the military, sporadic gunshots were heard around the Ghana Fire Service area. The military and the police again moved in, but no one was found in the area.

A similar shooting incident reoccurred on Sunday at about 7:00 a.m. leading to injury to Osman. The security officers later found 19 empty shells and a blank one at the scene.

According to Mr. Musah, on Monday, Awudu Issah, alias Bob, 23, a Moshie by tribe, was arrested with M16 rifle bullets, and his partner, Yusisi Mohamed, 21, a Wangara, was also arrested by the police.

He said the latest incident was purely a criminal one and had nothing to do with the conflict between the Kussasi and Mamprusi ethnic groups in the area. The MCE assured residents and the general public that the relative peace they had enjoyed for the past two years would continue.

He was, however, quick to add that the security officers decisively would deal with any person or group of persons who would want to disturb the peace by causing harm to others, or embarking on criminal ventures.

Between 2007 and 2009, Bawku suffered continuous clashes as a result of chieftaincy and land disputes between the Kussasi and Mamprusi ethnic groups. These clashes claimed dozens of lives with properties destroyed.

But, following several efforts and interventions put in place by the government and stakeholders, the one-time economic hub of the Upper East Region has enjoyed relative peace for the past two years.

Meanwhile, the ban on the use of motorbikes in the town is still in place.

Superintendent of Police Adamu Seidu, Bawku Divisional Crime Officer, who confirmed the arrest of the two persons, said there was calm in the area.

He said the police had started investigations into the latest incident, and hoped the residents would assist in providing relevant information to aid the investigations.

In a related development, our Volta Regional Correspondent, Samuel Agbewode, reports from Ho that the Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police Alex Bedie, has expressed surprise that the Anlo-Kodzi near the Metro Mass station in Ho had been turned into a 24-hour drug peddling market, after the police raided the area in June 2012.

Mr. Bedie explained that the police had information from the public that some youth had turned every available space in the Anlo-Kodzi area into a mini-wee and drug market, which had created fear and panic among the residents.

According to him, available information indicates that the situation was worse than what was experienced last year.

Briefing the media in Ho, DCOP Bedie said drug peddling in the area was on the ascendency due to the perception that because one person lost his life when the police raided the area last year, it would be very difficult for the peace officers to carry out a similar exercise again.

Unfortunately for them, that was not the thinking of the police, as they raided the area again and arrested 20 suspects, including a woman suspected to be supplying the drug to the youth.

DCOP Bedie further stated that the drug dealers also engaged in other criminal activities like robbing travelers of their belongings, including mobile phones. He assured the residents of the readiness of the police to restore the Anlo-Kodzi area to its former safe and calm state.

He said the police were dealing with the situation, and that the suspects who were arrested would be put before the law courts. According to DCOP Bedie, a woman (name withheld) complained to the police that the activities of the drug dealers were seriously affecting their health.

Mr. Bedie disclosed that the woman told the police that she and her daughter fell sick and went to a hospital in Ho, and to their surprise, the medical doctor, after thorough examinations, questioned both mother and daughter as to whether they smoked "wee," to which they responded in the negative.

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