Togolese armed security forces last week made a rare attempt to enter Tatale- Sanguli, a district capital in the Northern Region of Ghana 3km from the border with its neighboring ally, when unidentified gunmen held residents hostage in what later turned out to be a robbery attack.
A paramount chief of the area, and many residents revealed the incident to Starr News at a news conference.
The Tatale- Sanguli is an infant district and like many districts in the region it is hopelessly underdeveloped with few basic amenities. There are only nine police force operating with three (3) AK47 rifles and thirty –five (35) bullets in the district where personal security is a top priority for residents.
The alleged attempted intervention by the outside security source starkly highlighted the vulnerability of the over 60,000 residents living in the area dominated by Konkomba and Bassare tribes. Poor transport and communications infrastructure slow the speed at which reports of events in the community are passed on.
Seven armed men on motorbikes on Sunday, May 21, 2017 entered the impoverished district capital from unknown destination and fired gunshots copiously on marketers before targeting and robbing local Forex Bureau and Mobile Money operators.
The attackers continued the daytime robbery to a small village Kpaributaab where they had targeted a credit union before angry residents engaged them in fire exchanges. Residents overpowered the robbers after killing two and drove them into a hideout.
The robbers however launched a reprisal next day (Monday) and after heavy fire exchanges, four more were killed and three residents also died.
Many residents shocked and terrified by the incident begun fleeing towards Togo through the many unapproved routes prompting the Togolese forces to offer the security assistance after the fleeing residents allegedly told them the robbers overpowered their heavily constraint local police.
The Togolese forces who have been high on alert following string of attacks on merchants trading on the ECOWAS road according to the sources pleaded desperately with Ghanaian immigration and custom officers stationed at the frontier to grant them access into the country to counter the gunmen who was causing turmoil in the fatal heist.
An immigration sources at the border were unable to confirm or deny the report when contacted by StarrNews but said their counterparts in Togo were “only on high alert when the incident was happening”. The sources declined to provide details of the attempted security breach saying they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The Regional Commander of the Immigration Service ACI Issac Lourtey says though he is yet to receive such briefing from field officers he doubts the authenticity of the report. According to him the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) has taken over the incident and broad investigations were underway.
“It is not right but the information you are giving now is news to me. We have met at the regional security level and my reps at Tatale too have not reported such an incident to me, however, the robbery incident is being treated by the regional security council and we are yet to visit the place…but for an incursion on Togo by security forces I do not think it’s an authentic information.
“you know our structure of the border divide, one group of people would be here and same people would be at the other side and if in the event that a group sense that their brothers and sisters are in danger and they want to help; that one it occurs but to say that security from Togo entered Ghana? That is why immigration is there and we have border patrol men there so if they made attempt and they did not allow them then that is a plus for them”, ACI Isaac explained.
However, at the news conference addressed by the overlord of Sanguli Obore Kumayi Gabuja John the residents blamed the police for the loss of their relatives saying the police failed to act swiftly enough and they when they finally turned up, they acted as mere spectators.
“What is more shocking and disappointing is that, the police that has the constitutional duty to protect lives and properties of Ghanaian were first informed and they failed to respond appropriately and swiftly enough to the incident. And even when they came later, they were seen there as mere spectators of the incident. And they were questioned, they said they lacked logistics that they need to control the incident and also to defend our people when some of them were losing their lives”
“So the biggest question here is that, what appears to be pretense more than them giving this excuse that they have no logistics to use and again preventing military to come and intervene. One would then ask again that, why should the police be much more concern about the bodies and belongings of armed robbers that were killed than trying to know much about the indigenous people that were killed and injured”
The chief appealed for government intervention asking for intensified security measures and aid packages for the relatives of the victims who lost their lives in the two-day gunfight.
“In view of these rampant armed robbery cases in the district, we are appealing to government to create more police stations and barriers on major roads such as Tatale – Nahuyili road and Tatale – Tatindo road. Also government should equip the existing police in the two districts that is Tatale- Sanguli- Zabzugu with all the necessary logistics to be able to work effectively to protect our lives and properties. We are also appealing to government, the religious groups and all the benevolent individuals to come to the aid of the deceased families.