Yorogo Killings: Storm, tears at mass held for slain men

General News of Sunday, 6 August 2017

Source: Starrfmonline.com


Family members of the slain men at the church service

A requiem mass has been held at Yorogo for the three men killed recently in the Upper East region, one knocked dead by a mortuary man’s car and two shot dead in a resulting demonstration in front of the Bolgatanga Police Station late in June, this year.

It was an emotional ceremony, accompanied by an ‘angry’ rainstorm observers say could be a sign of nature’s strong disapproval and distaste at the killings. The ‘anger’ was written in the dark clouds that engulfed the community for 10 minutes before a storm and a heavy downpour followed. Elderly folks, supported by walking sticks, were among those who walked through the rain, as lightning continuously tore through the rumbling clouds with frightening vigour, to join the church and the grieving families to pray for the souls of Peter, James and Thomas.

The front rows of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church, where the event took place, were occupied by the slain men’s widows and relatives who dabbed their eyes repeatedly with handkerchiefs as the choir sang at intervals. And just a few inches away from the church building was the charred body of the car which triggered the multiple tragedies that occasioned the requiem. The remains of the car have remained at that spot ever since the June crash struck around the church.

Daniel Alhassan Azaah, a veteran mortuary attendant at the Upper East Regional Hospital, had run with his car into James Nsobire who at the time was riding a motorcycle home on the Bolgatanga-Bongo Road. The crash happened Thursday June 22, close to the victim’s house at Yorogo. An angry mob emerged from the area and the well-known mortician fled first on his feet before he found a passing motorised tricycle to escape possible lynching.

The mob set fire to his car and launched a raid on his house the following day, burning his motorcycle too. Police arrests of two of the attackers led to the rest of the mob dumping a casket bearing the body of Mr. Nsobire in front of the Bolgatanga Police Station on the night of Friday June 23.

They demanded the police either release the two men or add the casket to those behind bars. A tough demonstration erupted that night. Gunshots were fired. Two among the demonstrators, Peter Anaba and Thomas Ameseya, fell at the awful sound of rifles. The community, after dumping one coffin at the police station, got two more caskets in return. June ended at Yorogo, taking three men away at a pace that left the entire region in stark shock.

“The message to the bereaved families is basically to have peace and love and forgiveness,” said Fr. Kevin Rand, the Parish Priest in charge of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church. “Not to forgive allows the pain to still sit down and dwell in your stomach and it would always be eating you, eating you and take your humanity. Once we can come, once we can shake hands, once we can forgive each other, then we can go forward as human beings,” he stressed.

We are lonely and sad – Widows

Speaking to newsmen at the close of the mass, the Chief of Yorogo, Naba Johnson Awuni Azebire, defended the subjects involved in the June 23 demonstration, saying they did not do anything to warrant the bloody outcome at the police station.

“The only odd thing my people did was dumping the corpse there,” the chief said. “But they did not misbehave. Taking the little pieces I gathered, they did not misbehave there- except dropping the corpse there and to walk away,” he pointed out as he waved a forefinger strongly in front of cameras to affirm his remarks.

Separated eternally from their husbands through the late-June disaster, the widows told journalists at the forecourt of the church life had been “lonely” and “sad” without their children’s fathers.

“I feel very bad, very bad. My life partner has been taken away. I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened and he has passed away. I don’t know. Life is not good- very lonely, sad. I’m hoping that Almighty God will work on it,” the late Thomas Ameseya’s unemployed wife, Gloria, lamented. Pearl, her little daughter, dressed in a mourning black as was Gloria herself, stood near.

Find the killers and punish them- COFAL to IGP

Meanwhile, outpouring of calls for justice for the three men has continued to swell with the Coalition for Accountable Leadership (COFAL) being the latest to petition the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to crack the whip on the police officers believed to have fired the live bullets that killed Peter and Thomas.

“Pursuant to the incident at the Bolgatanga Municipal Police Station that led to the demise of two civilians by gun wounds inflicted on them by the police stationed at the Police Station on [23rd June, 2017] we pray that: the Inspector General of Police immediately constitutes an independent committee to investigate the activities of the Bolgatanga Municipal Police Office on the [23rd of June, 2017] which led to the death of two civilians,” demands a press statement issued by Eugene Alagskomah, President of COFAL.

The coalition further asks that: “That the Inspector General of Police publishes the findings of the committee in the spirit of transparency, to enrich public trust in the service and in accordance with Section 23 (4) (a) of the Police Service Act (Act 350), 1970; that the impartial committee identifies the police officer (s) who shot at the crowd leading to the demise of the 2 civilians; that any police officer or officers found culpable in the death of the 2 civilians should be made to face the full rigours of the law and appropriate sanctions exacted on them to deter others and restore public confidence in the police service; that appropriate compensation should be given to the families of the 2 deceased.”

The bereaved families and the community had made similar demands in a joint press statement issued in June, saying: “We wish to appeal to the Minister of Interior, the IGP and for that matter the government through the Regional Police Commander and the Upper East Regional Minister to set up an independent committee of enquiry to investigate the matter thoroughly since we have lost complete trust that the Bolgatanga Municipal Police Command can conduct investigation into the death of the three on neutral grounds.”

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