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04.02.2009 Politics

Mamprusis dread 'bloody hand' Avoka

By The Chronicle
Mamprusis dread 'bloody hand' Avoka

Members of the Concerned Youth of Bawku taking refuge in Tamale have strongly appealed to President Mills to revoke the nomination of Mr. Cletus Avoka as Interior Minister for the sake of national security.

The group questioned the quality of background checks that were done prior to Mr. Avoka's nomination.

According to the youth, Mr. Avoka has a bad track record alleging that he was deeply involved in the 1985, 2000/2001 and 2008 conflicts in Bawku, and that he was allegedly arrested with five other opinion leaders in connection with the 1985 conflict.

The Youth in a statement to the press in Tamale on Monday and signed by the Secretary
Abdul-Rahman Iddi, said "It is a known fact that a highly sensitive ministry like that of the Interior, requires the leadership of a personality who is peace-loving, security conscious with an unblemished security record, fair and above all impartial in dealing with all citizens of Ghana.”

On the contrary, Mr. Cletus Avoka, the Interior Minister-designate exhibited bad qualities in relation to his roles in the Bawku conflict. "We are, therefore, particularly concerned that his appointment will pose a great threat to the already volatile security situation in Bawku, which has the potential of degenerating into fully fledged conflict in the Northern part of Ghana".

The Bawku Youth also alleged that Mr. Avoka, an Ethnic Activist, had consistently planned and incited Kusasi Youth in the area to take up arms against their brothers from the Mamprusi side.

They revealed that Mr. Cletus Avoka was a pioneering member of the Kusasi Youth Association which was formed to ultimately fight the Mamprusis in Bawku, adding that in the early 1990's, the Interior Minister-designate led a Kusasi Crusade to change the name of the district from Bawku District Assembly to "Agoli District Assembly" to symbolize the ownership of the district by the Kusasis.

Mr. Avoka, the youth indicated, had on many occasions stood behind and freed most Kussasis who were arrested by the security forces for violence and criminal acts including some Kusasis who murdered two Mamprusis, namely Osman Amandi and Gumah Thomas, who was a General Science Tutor at the Bawku Senior High School.

According to them, they were very much afraid that Mr. Avoka, after openly identifying himself with the Kusasis would use his position to carry out his parochial ethnic interest to the neglect of national security. "We are not raising these concerns against the backdrop that he is a Kusasi, but we are afraid that he will use his position as a tool for vengeance.”

They also mentioned Mr. Avoka's role in defending and assisting to secure bail for almost all the Kusasis that were charged for attacking and murdering some people in the area. He subsequently organised a press conference to condemn the transfer of suspected killers in the Bawku conflict to Accra, just because the action limited his ability to represent his boys and free them.

Mr. Avoka has meanwhile denied all the allegations leveled against him by the group. “The allegations are not true because I have never taken up arms against the Mamprusis." According to him, he is a peace-lover and could not have, therefore, taken up arms to fight the Mamprusis.

He admitted that he was a member of the Kussasi Youth Association but added that was some thirty years ago when he was a student. On allegations that he attempted to change the name of Bawku district assembly to 'Agoli', he explained that in 1989 the Kusassis in Tamale invited him to a programme. He said during question time one of them asked him to explain the procedure that must be followed to change the name of a district assembly, which he did as a government official, without, any malice behind it. He was, therefore, surprised that the Bawku Youth were today trying to use that against him.

Touching on another allegation that he had always defended the Kusasis against the Mamprusis, the Minister of Interior-designate explained that he acted purely as a lawyer. He said if a Mamprusi had approached him, he would have defended him also. He stated further that he was the Upper Regional Minister from 1995 to 1997 but no conflict surfaced between the Kussasis and Mamprusis. He noted that if he had something personal against the Mamprusis, he could have used his office to achieve that but that did not happen.

He asked the Mamprusis not to entertain any fear because he would be a Minister for all Ghanaians and not a particular ethnic group. “Their allegations and apprehensions are baseless, they have nothing to fear,” he added.