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11.01.2006 Regional News

Navrongo Shooting Incident, Not Politically Motivated

By GNA

Bolgatanga, Jan. 11, GNA - The Upper East Regional Co-ordinating Council on Wednesday dismissed as untrue, speculations that the shooting incident involving police personnel and a native of Navrongo on January 6 this year, was politically motivated.

Speaking at a news conference in Bolgatanga, the Regional Minister, Mr Boniface Gambila, said it was therefore unfortunate that certain politicians should engage in attempts to give the incident, which claimed the life of a 40-year-old man, some political colouring. Mr Gambila said that, between 1400 hours and 2200 hours on January 6, Constable Patrick Aduko of the Navrongo police division was on guard duty at the Ghana Commercial Bank premises. He said at about 2030 hours, one Victor Ballango, now deceased, entered the bank premises for no apparent reason and issued death threats to Constable Aduko.

The Regional Minister indicated that following attempts by Constable Aduko to arrest him, Ballango resisted and tried to reach inside his under-clothes to take out an object.

Constable Felix Yabo, who was also on duty at the nearby Naara Rural Bank saw the incident and rushed to assist his colleague. Two other policemen, Constables Charles Dufie and Lomotey, were attracted to the scene and also went to assist their colleagues to arrest Ballango, who was still in a defiant mood.

Mr Gambila further stated that some youth from Navrongo town, in a gesture of solidarity with Ballango, went to wrest the latter from the grip of the police, resulting in a fierce scuffle between the police and the mob.

At this juncture, Constable Aduko cocked his rifle in a bid to fire a warning shot to scare off the mob but Ballango engaged in a struggle with him to seize the weapon. In the process, the rifle went off and a bullet hit Ballango who died on the spot.

"The youth who had earlier tried to free the deceased from police custody, took the law into their hands and attempted to attack police personnel at the Navrongo police station, and this necessitated the Regional Police Command to send reinforcement to Navrongo to bring the situation under control," the Regional Minister said.

He added that, while the Regional Security Committee (REGSEC) and the Regional Police Command were in the process of unravelling the cause of the incident, Mr Gabriel Pwamang, General Secretary of the People's National Convention (PNC), held a press conference in Accra during which he allegedly stated that Ballango was killed because he was a member of PNC.

Also, the flagbearer of the PNC, Dr Edward Mahama, was also alleged to have gone to the office of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) in Accra to state that the Regional Police Command was hastening to bury the deceased even when no post-mortem had been conducted on the corpse, and warned that his Party would soon launch an investigation into the Navrongo incident.

The Regional Minister declared, "The late Ballango was not killed at any political rally and was not wearing the colours of any particular party at the time of his death. The police whom he engaged in the confrontation were not activists of a particular political party. To cash in on this unfortunate incident and try to give it a political twist is, therefore, most unfortunate."

He said the issue at stake was a rather delicate one, and that any attempt to make political gain out of it would only worsen an already bad situation.

He also appealed to the PNC membership and all interested parties in the matter to co-operate fully with the authorities in the effort to get to the bottom of the matter, giving the assurance that the appropriate action would be taken against the culprits.

Mr Gambila assured the bereaved family and the entire people of Navrongo that the RCC shared their grief, but also exhorted them to exercise restraint and to co-operate with the security agencies in their investigations.

During the news conference, Mr Ofosu Mensah-Gyeabour, Regional Police Commander, enumerated several antecedents extracted from police records, in which the late Ballango had similar confrontations with the law. He particularly cited instances in February 2000, July 2000, March 2002 and February 2005 when the Navrongo and Bolgatanga courts imposed various fines and prison sentences on the deceased for charges including assault, threat of death, causing unlawful harm, and resisting arrest. The Police Commander pointed out that as far as available police dockets were concerned, the late Victor Ballango was an established criminal with a track record of violent confrontations.

The body of the deceased has been deposited at the Bolgatanga hospital mortuary, pending the arrival of a pathologist from Tamale Teaching Hospital for a post-mortem examination, as the Bolgatanga Government hospital has no pathologist.

Meanwhile, a source close to the Regional Police Command indicates that Constable Aduko whose rifle went off and killed the late Ballango in the process, has been interdicted pending the outcome of police investigations into the incident.

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