14 February 2013

Ghana: Vea Youth Accuse Police Boss

THE YOUTH of Vea community in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region are venting their anger on the Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP), Mr. Bright Oduro over the killing of one of their own, Mr. Gideon Azaare Aniah.

Mr. Aniah, a final year student of the University of Education, Winneba, was shot dead last Wednesday when he and other community members came out to protest against a contractor from breaking a rock they regard as a god.

The said rock was identified by Eunitack Services Ltd, the construction firm contracted to maintain and re-enforce the banks of the Vea Irrigation Dam as the only rock with good quality for the work.

But some residents of Vea, with the support of the Tindana (Traditional Chief Priest) protested against the breaking of the rock. The matter was referred to the Regional Security Council for resolution. The committee later resolved that the local people should accept compensation from the contractor for pacification and allow him to break the rock.

According to a source, the compensation which was in monetary form was paid to the chief of the area and not the Traditional Chief Priest who should have pacified the god before the rock could be broken.

Sensing danger, REGSEC on Wednesday provided armed Police officers to provide security to the contractor to break the rock. This move angered residents of Vea and they came out in their numbers to protest against it.

While they were protesting, the police fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse them. Amidst the warning shots, a police officer allegedly pointed his gun at Gideon Azaare Aniah and shot at him. He collapsed and bled profusely. He was rushed to the Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga but died on arrival.

In a statement signed by Asampana James and Baba Timothy, all youth leaders of the community blamed DCOP Oduro as being responsible for the shooting of Mr. Aniah by the Police on February 6, 2012 at Vea.

According to the Vea Youth, some recent events have compelled them to believe that Mr. Oduro had a hand in the event that led to the killing of Mr. Aniah.

They claimed that they are aware that the substantive Chairman of the REGSEC, Mr. Mark Woyongo, who has been designated as the minister for Defence, is currently busy as a result of his new appointment and they, therefore, suspect that the Regional Police Commander cashed in on that circumstance to steer the Council to his personal advantage.

"If the Commander doubts our suspicion, we challenge him to answer why he did not allow the Regional Crime Officer, who had begun investigation into the shooting of Gideon Aniah, to take part in a meeting that took place at the Police Head-Quarters between the Police and the Vea Youth on February 7, 2013".

They are also challenging the Police boss to explain why he barred the Regional Crime Officer from all matters relating to the investigation of the shooting case. "Why has the Regional Commander caused the immediate transfer of the Regional Crime Officer out of the region, at a time such a terrible act by the Police is to be investigated by the Crime Officer?

According to them, DCOP Oduro was doing everything under the Sun to cover up the brutal murder of Mr. Aniah and to portray the people of Vea as a people who are against development.

They are, therefore, calling on President John Daramani Mahama, to as a matter of urgency and in the interest of Justice and fairness, exclude the regional Police Commander from all matters relating to the investigation into the shooting of Mr. Aniah.

They also want the President to empower the acting IGP, Mohammed Ahmed Alhassan to constitute a neutral investigating team, excluding DCOP Oduro to investigate into why Police had to disperse Protestants, with a live bullet, and why REGSEC had ignored their plea for their place of worship and sacrifice be left alone.

Meanwhile, DCOP Oduro has told this reporter he has no personal interest in the matter but only acted on a resolution that was arrived at a REGSEC meeting in Bolgatanga. He also denied taking side in the matter and said the decision of REGSEC was only to ensure that the banks of the dam were protected.

On how Mr. Aniah was shot dead, DCOP Oduro said from the information he gathered from his District Commander in Bongo, the Protestants were pelting stones at the officers who were armed with AK 47 assault raffles. They then fired warning shots and in the process, he was hit and died.

He said he launched investigations into the incident and promised he will not shield the officer who was shot and killed Mr. Aniah.

Meanwhile, residents of Vea who were at the site to protest against the contractor say they can identify the Police Officer who killed their brother and challenged the police to parade the officers who were on duty for them to do so.

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