Yorogo Killings: Victims buried; Mortuary man, Police under pressure

The mortuary man at the Upper East Regional Hospital who saw the number of corpses at his own morgue rise by three more bodies when his private car killed a young man and two demonstrators died of bullet wounds thereafter has, together with the police, come under pressure from the families and the community of the 3 dead men making strong calls for justice.

The police are being accused of discharging live bullets into a crowd of protesters who stormed the Bolgatanga Police Station at night on Friday June 23, this year, with a coffin bearing the body of James Nsobire, a motorcyclist reportedly killed near his house by the mortuary attendant, Daniel Alhassan Azaah, at Yorogo, whilst driving towards Bolgatanga, the regional capital, from Bongo.

The demonstrators had massed up in front of the police station after two people had been arrested in connection with an alleged mob attack on the mortuary man at his official residence for killing the young man. The police station raid came after some young men, angered by Nsobire’s killing, supposedly had burnt the car that was involved in that crash at Yorogo and set his motorcycle on fire later at his residence.

They dumped the casket at the station and gave the police two options- release the two men or lock the casket also behind bars with them. The eyes of some suspects inside the cells rolled left and right with fear, obviously praying in their hearts, as they held the iron bars, that the police did not succumb to the second option- to admit the coffin into the cells.

Mourners at the house of one of the slain demonstrators.
Mourners at the house of one of the slain demonstrators.

The turmoil at the police station drew more blood. As the police stood their ground and the agitators pressed their demand further, warning shots, heard around the capital, went out and two of the demonstrators went down, bleeding with a shout of horror. The ensuing disarray only quieted down after soldiers joined the police to ward off the bullet-pierced crowd and barricaded the busy highway road leading to where the action was taking place. In what was the saddest twist, the demonstrators who stormed the police station with one casket, crying for justice, got two more caskets in return, not sure how to come to terms with that agonising reality. Little did anyone know that what ‘Alhassan the Mortuary Man’ reportedly did earlier was mere ‘lightning’. The ‘thunder’ itself was waiting at the police station.

The two bullet-stricken men died in agony, gone too young. Peter Anaba died early Saturday. Hours later the same day, Thomas Ameseya drew his last breath at Nasia whilst he was being ambulanced on referral to the Tamale Teaching Hospital in the Northern region. Two more people, including the Assemblyman for the area, Peter Adongo, were locked up for their alleged roles in that protest.

Five children were left fatherless in the aftershock of the disturbances with 2 of the children belonging to James, 2 to Peter and 1 to Thomas. The Chief of the area, Naba Johnson Awuni Azebire, described the development as “the worst disaster” Yorogo had seen since the era the clock replaced the hourglass. The distraught men in the community folded their arms pensively as the chief spoke, and the inconsolable women lifted the edges of their mourning clothes to their faces to mop tears that never ceased to stream.

A reaction from Yorogo was anticipated after the multiple disasters hit the usually quiet community in just three days. The response, a joint press statement, was issued by the families of the slain young men and their community. It had the signatures of Dominic Ameseya, who represented the Ameseya Family, Atariburo Agana Jomo, a representative of the Atariburo Family (James Nsobire’s household) and Isaac Adongo, the spokesperson for the community.

“The police claim they fired warning shots and only shot in the air. If it is so, how can warning shots in the air, as the police expect us to believe, kill Thomas and Peter? Or were the two flying in the air and were caught up by the bullets since the police say they only shot in the air?” the statement quipped.

It added: “In our opinion, Daniel Alhassan Azaah should be investigated and further prosecuted just like the police would have done if James was a police officer, a soldier, a politician or a son to a politician. For the two illustrious brothers we have lost courtesy the police who are supposed to be peacekeepers, we want justice served.”

Interior Minister, IGP petitioned

The bereaved families and the community do not trust the same Bolgatanga Municipal Police Command, whose bullets allegedly killed the two men, to deliver the justice being sought.

Their statement has also faulted the command for making a public statement they say only highlights the attacks the mortuary man purportedly suffered at the hands of the community but, on the other hand, overlooks the wrongs allegedly perpetrated by the veteran mortician against the same Yorogo he hails from.

It questioned: “The police statement circulating in the media only stated that James Nsobire died in an accident but failed to add that Daniel Alhassan was the one who knocked him. Why so? On the police statement, we want to know why they made categorical statements that the youth attacked Mr. Alhassan, burnt his car and also indicated that the assemblyman organised the people to dump the body at the police station when the case has not been tried at the law court. Or have the police become the court and can declare suspects guilty?”

Concluding, the statement described as groundless earlier public allegations made by Mr. Alhassan that the mob who raided his house last Friday also made away with a cash belonging to his wife. It also claimed the police assaulted those arrested and denied them medical forms to seek healthcare after their bail.

“We wish to appeal to the Minister of Interior, the IGP and for that matter the government through the Regional Police Commander and the Upper East Regional Minister to set up an independent committee of enquiry to investigate the matter thoroughly since we have lost complete trust that the Bolgatanga Municipal Police Command can conduct investigation into the death of the three on neutral grounds,” it affirmed.

MUSEC intervenes; cautions youth against chaos

Meanwhile the Municipal Security Council (MUSEC) has been locked in talks with opinion leaders and the angry youth of Yorogo to ensure calm returns to that tense suburb of the regional capital.

The Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive, Joseph Amiyuure, announced Wednesday he had cautioned the youth of the area against gatherings that could heighten tension in the community. He also said there would be security patrols in the troubled area until calm returned.

“Looking at the volatility of the problem at this stage, as the head of the Municipal Security Council, I will not countenance any press conference of any kind that would cause chaos in the municipality. Looking at the tension in Yorogo, we will not countenance things like that. The truth is that investigations are going on with regard to what has happened during this short period.

“The police are investigating. As the head of the Municipal Security Council, I’ve told them that I’m interested in the details of it so that they do thorough investigations to ensure there is peace in this municipality. There is freedom of issues like these (press conferences) but not at this crisis hour,” the MCE told journalists at the close of a MUSEC meeting held Wednesday.

James was laid to rest last Saturday, June 24. Peter and Thomas were also buried Thursday and Friday respectively. The outpouring of grief is yet to cease. Perhaps, only two words- the words used to caption the press statement issued by the community- can best describe the doleful atmosphere in a suburb well known for its attractive rocks. “Yorogo Weeps!!!”