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Police Arrest 50 Residents Of Ekpu Over Violent Protests

A Police force, made up of 150 personnel from the National Police Headquarters and 150 from the Western Regional Command, today [Tuesday], arrested 50 residents of Ekpu, a fishing community in the Jomoro District for vandalizing properties belonging to the Half Assini District Police Command.

Residents of Ekpu are alleged to have gone to the Half Assini District Police Command last month, to vandalize a police car, destroyed furniture and fittings at the charge office, and physically assaulted a police officer who had assumed duty, over the death of one Asuaboah, who died whilst in the Half Assini Police custody.

Tension over the past month has been mounting in Half Assini and Ekpu as residents of Ekpu seems not to agree to the account from the police over the death of the 48-year-old resident.

The residents suspect that the police might have killed the victim, “as the police gave us a conflicting report leading to the death of Asuaboah,” the Assembly Member for Ekpu, Peter Miezah told Citi News.

Peter Miezah mentioned that “family members and opinion leaders from Ekpu went to the Half Assini Police Station a day after Asuaboah’s arrest on Monday, to seek for bail for him after he was picked  for allegedly stealing a T-Shirt and selling it to the owner at Half Assini, but the police told them they were interrogating Asuboah and that they could not see him for bail.”

“On Tuesday evening, family members went there to give him food, but they were told he is sick and has been sent to the hospital with two police officers. But some inmates told the family that they saw the police wrapping a body and sending it off. They quickly left the police station to the Half Assini Government Hospital hospital, but could neither see the two police officers nor Asuaboah. They however proceeded to the hospital’s mortuary to see him lying lifeless.”

Peter Miezah continued that, “the family members returned home without saying anything to the police. On Wednesday morning, the family members went to the police station again to check up on Asuaboah. At the police station, the police maintained that Asuaboah was at the hospital responding to treatment. They returned home to inform the Ekpu community of what the police were up to. That infuriated the youth to go to the Half Assini Police station to demand for the whereabouts of Asuaboah. In the process, they vandalized some belongings of the Half Assini Police Command.”

“The youth were later called to a meeting with other stakeholders for the issue to be addressed, whilst the family was advised to prepare the body for burial. A postmortem, according to the Member of Parliament for Jomoro, Paul Essien, carried on the deceased “indicated that he was beaten to death. He even had his throat dislocated and other physical assault.”

The MP in an interview with Takoradi-based Skyypower FM, expressed his dissatisfaction towards the arrest of the 50 residents.

He said that “since the incident last month, the youth, District Coordinating Council, leadership of the Regional Police Command, chiefs, myself and other opinion leaders have been speaking to have a lasting solution to the issue. The youth have been told to let sleeping dogs lie, whilst the family of the victim is on preparation for the burial of Asuaboah, only to have the police carry out this raid in that huge numbers. The arrest, I believe was in retaliation to the assault by the community members.”

Commenting on why 300 officers will be sent to a community with a population less than a thousand, the Western Regional PRO of the Police Service, ASP Olivia Ewurabena Adiku, said,  “it is because the police looked at the situation and determined that, that number is what will be required to arrest that situation. It was not to intimidate the people”.

The 50 residents, made up of 46 males and 4 females, have been sent to the Regional Police Command in Sekondi, and are going through screening, after which they will be processed for court.

“Those we will find to have taken part in the destruction of the police properties will be arraigned” ASP Olivia Adiku added.

By: Obrempong Yaw Ampofo/Citifmonline.com/Ghana

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