Members of REGSEC and MUSEC inspecting some burnt houses Upper East Regional Minister, Mark Owen Woyongo

THE CHAIRMAN of the Upper East Regional Security Council, Mark Woyongo has hinted that REGSEC will have no choice than to re-impose the curfew with all its related conditions on the Bawku municipality if the recent arson cases recorded in the area continues.

He warned the people of the municipality, irrespective of tribe or religion, to allow the current peaceful atmosphere the area has witnessed over the past two years to prevail.

Mr. Woyongo, who is also the Upper East Regional Minister, gave the warning during a briefing section with the media after the REGSEC and the Bawku Municipal Security Council (MUSEC) had met in Bawku on Wednesday, February, 1, 2012, over the recent disturbances in the area, which are characterized by arson cases.

Available data reveals that a total of 14 rooms and houses have been burnt down by some yet-to-be-identified persons.

The latest arson case was recorded on Friday, January 27, 2012, when a former (New Patriotic Party) NPP chairman in Bawku, Mohammed Mutala’s house was burnt. He added that nine persons were arrested in the early hours of February 1, 2012 to help the police investigate the issue.

Almost all the arson cases that have been recorded in the area have been attributed to political attacks, with victims or their relation and friends, pointing accusing fingers at groups in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) NPP as being behind the arsons, depending on the party they sympathized with.

For a little over two years, the Bawku municipality has not witnessed any serious chaos.

The peaceful atmosphere in the area however can be attributed to some security measures put in place and reviewed with time over the years.

Initially, there was a total ban on motorbike riding throughout the municipality, and then later women alone were allowed to ride from 6am to 6pm. Recently security personnel in Bawku have also been permitted to ride whilst wearing their uniform.
The regional minister advised the people of Bawku not to shield the criminals living in their communities but rather expose them so that they could be arrested.

“If they are exposed and are taken away from the area the place will be peaceful but if residents continue shielding the criminals living amongst them, then in the end they will all suffer the brunt that will come in an attempt to overcome crime, restore peace or to stabilize the situation. As leadership of REGSEC and MUSEC, we are aware of the negative impact of curfew on the economic activities in Bawku, but if it becomes necessary to protect lives and properties from the hands of criminals we will recommend re-imposition of the curfew.”

The REGSEC and MUSEC after their meeting in Bawku resolved that there was the need to do a lot of sensitization work throughout the area through the media and the use of the van of the Information Services Department to reiterate the need to allow peace to reign and expose the perpetrators crimes and the recent arson cases.

Mr. Woyongo believes that there are still arms in the municipality, describing the situation as a serious challenge to the leadership of the region and the Bawku municipality as a whole. He reiterated that there was still an influx of arms into the area through the porous borders surrounding the municipality.
The chairman of REGSEC also revealed that some persons in Bawku were taking advantage of the conflict in Ivory Coast to do business. He noted that they bought motorbikes from Cenkase in neigbouring Togo and exchanged them for machines guns and ammunitions, at the border between Upper West region and Ivory Coast. Mr. Woyongo therefore called on the security agencies in the Bawku area to intensify their checks on the routes towards that border to ensure that weapons are not smuggled into the municipality.

 From Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bolgatanga

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