Cletus Avoka - Interior Minister Gunshots rang out yesterday during proceedings at the Tamale Circuit Court where 19 suspects are standing trial for their alleged roles in the recent clashes in the Tamale Metropolis.
Some youth numbering over 700 besieged the court premises protesting against the court's decision to grant bail to the suspects, thereby holding court officials and all in the court room hostage for several hours.
Not even the sporadic gunshots from the police personnel who escorted the suspects to the court could disperse the crowd whose number kept increasing.
Several other measures to get the irate youth make way for the suspects proved futile until reinforcement was deployed from the military to assist the police on guard.
The immediate response of the military saved the situation as they lashed out at the youth until they fled the premises, thus making way for proceedings to end properly.
The 19 suspects who made their second appearance in the court presided over by Mr. John Nabrese were granted bail in the sum of GH¢10,000 each with two sureties to be justified.
They would reappear on 26th March 2009. The 19 included Mohammed Fusheini, Innusah Yakubu, Yahuza Yakubu, Mohammed Iddrisu and Zakaria Fusheini.
Others were Gafaru Yakubu, Abdul Rauf Yahia Iddrisu, Majeed Alhassan Shamuna Yakubu, Osama Sulemana and Alhassan Salifu.
The rest were Issah Adam, Ziblim Salifu, Soale Adam Iddrisu Fusheini, Abukari Abdulai, Yakubu Nashiru and Afa Tafirili, a known comedian and actor.
Charges of illegally possessing weapons, destruction of property and rioting were preferred against them.
They are expected to report daily at the regional police command till the next adjournment date.
Fifteen of the accused have been charged with rioting while the remaining three have been charged with illegal possession of arms.
The case of Bomadi Sulemana, driver of a private Peugeot car with registration number AS 2637 V, and Zakaria Abdul who were arrested in their bid to bring weapons to the region was not called.
The two were arrested at Lamashegu, a suburb of Tamale, after trying to bring into the city 11 pockets of AAA Topman live cartridges, with each pocket containing 21 pieces and 21 pockets of BD Super Hardcore cartridges.
But for the timely intervention of the security forces, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) office near the SG-SSB Bank opposite a Total filling station was nearly torched soon after the court proceedings, as some angry youth descended on it breaking anything on sight.
The situation was brought under control as at press time with heavy security patrol in most of the violence-prone areas.
In a related development, the Tishiegu Nachinaa (Youth Chief) of Tamale, Issifu Mohammed has been arrested by the Tamale Police for allegedly possessing a weapon against a directive for all residents to disarm.
Nachinaa Issifu who was arrested during the early hours of Tuesday was seen wielding a weapon, thus attracting the attention of the community protection officers under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) who were at the spot. They immediately effected his arrest and handed him over to the police who placed him in custody.
He has since been granted a police inquiry bail pending further investigations into the matter.
The Northern Regional Police Commander, DCOP Ofosu Mensah-Gyeabuor confirmed the arrests to DAILY GUIDE.
It would be recalled that a recent reprisals between two factions in the northern regional capital led to the death of one person and the burning of a number of houses.
Twenty persons were arrested in the ensuing melee, but there still seem to be uneasy calm in the region.
From Stephen Zoure, Tamale