The Tamale Circuit Court, presided over by Justice Lawrence L. Mensah has directed the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 6th Infantry Battalion Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces in Tamale, Lt. Col. Joseph Aphour, to release the three accused service personnel involved in the death of the late Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Alhaji Issah Mobila to the Court for trial on 28th, 29th and 30th of April, 2009.
The three murder suspects, who were under the command of the former Commanding Officer -Lt Col Omane Agyekum failed to appear before the Circuit Court at its hearing on Tuesday 24th of March, 2009, leading to the adjournment of the case. The accused persons are; Colonel Yaw Appiah with service number 187484, Private Eric Modzaka of 183365 and Private Seth Goka with number 183366, all at the Kamina Barracks in Tamale.
Several hundreds of people, dominated by supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), besieged the Court premises yesterday to witness the proceedings under tight security. The Prosecutor of the long standing trial, Mrs. Gertrude Aikins told the court that the death of Alhaji Issah Mobila was against the criminal act 1960 act 29, of the constitution.
The late Alhaji Issah Mobila, former Northern Regional Chairman of the CPP was reportedly killed in military custody in December 2004, after he was arrested by the Tamale Police under the leadership of the Commissioner of Police (COP), Ephraim Oko Brakatu (now at the Police Headquarters in Accra), and handed over to the military at the Kamina Barracks for allegedly possessing arms.
A subsequent postmortem report from the Tamale Teaching Hospital on the deceased indicated that he died as a result of “collapsed lung, broken ribs and bruises over his body”. The then government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), under the leadership of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, was largely blamed by a section of the public, especially members of the then opposition NDC and the CPP for the death of Alhaji Issah Mobila.
Since his death in 2004, the case was heard once in the Tamale High Court in 2006 and was adjourned until yesterday, Tuesday March 24th, 2009. However, President John Evans Atta-Mills, during his State of the Nations Address personally promised to ensure justice for the family, friends and sympathizers of the late Issah Mobila.
In another development, the Northern Regional Security Council, after failing in its last month's move to retrieve all sophisticated weapons in private hands on voluntary basis has now extended the moratorium period to 23rd April 2009 plus a GH¢300.00 offer to anyone who would surrender his/her weapons voluntarily to the security agencies.
The REGSEC believes the monetary offer would entice people with weapons to submit them willingly to the security. It would be recalled that on the 23rd of February, 2009, the leadership of the two main political parties- NDC and NPP in the Northern Region at an emergency meeting after the last violent clashes, told the REGSEC that some of their supporters possessed some dangerous weapons.
Based on the statement, the Northern Regional Minister, Stephen Sumani Nayina gave a month long ultimatum to the party supporters to surrender their arms including AK47 assault riffles, G3 and SMG to the police without any arrest.
Meanwhile, Citi Fm's Northern Regional Correspondent, Karim Nantongmah reported early yesterday that Mr. Awudu Sofo Azorka, an influential leader of several youth groups of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Northern Region has strongly condemned the move by the Northern Regional Police Command to pay people to voluntarily surrender weapons in their possession.
Sofo Azorka, whose boys clashed with the “Kandahar” group of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) over a month ago, described the move as ridiculous. “They should use force on those who are holding the guns. If they wanted to pay someone to bring in his gun, they won't come out. They should arrest them first”. Meanwhile, spokesperson of the “Kandahar” group, Mohammed Alhassan Gana thinks the move could help matters a little, according to Citi News.