Just one tragedy involving a mortuary man and a young man in the Upper East region has led to multiple catastrophes, turning the regional capital upside down with soldiers deployed to restore order at the Bolgatanga Police Station.
Daniel Azaah Alhassan, a chief mortuary attendant at the Upper East Regional Hospital, reportedly crashed a private car into one James Ataburo at Yorogo, a community along the Bolgatanga-Bongo Road, on Thursday afternoon.
The crash left the young man dead at a spot close to his house, with his intestines showing on a road under construction.
Some residents of that community, soon after they had identified the victim as one of their own, mobbed the mortician with stones on that road and set the vehicle on fire.
The mortuary attendant escaped through the aid of a motorised tricycle passing by chance as members of the community searched for a vehicle to convey the smashed body of the young man away from the scene.
Things took a twist for the worse Friday evening when an army of mourners raided the residence of the mortuary man (situated near the mortuary block) and inflicted a heavy damage on his property.
The raiders, who had joined sympathisers and relatives of the deceased to pick up the body from the morgue for burial, burnt a motorcycle belonging to the mortuary man and vandalised parts of his house as they claimed strongly that Mr. Alhassan killed the Yorogo young man willfully.
“I was coming from Bongo and he (the deceased) was also riding coming from Bolga to Yorogo. There was a motorbike in front of him. He was overtaking the other guy in front of him. He lost control and [rode] towards me. I came out of the car and went to where he rolled to. I saw that his intestines were out. Before I could help him to the hospital, they (the community members) started stoning me. A motorbike rider picked me but they stopped the motorbike and destroyed the bike. I finally got Mahama Camboo (a motorised tricycle) and escaped to the police station,” the mortuary man told Starr News.
Relaying the Friday’s sequel, he said: “They were to pick the body today. We were preparing how we would lead the body to the village when they just pounced on me, attacking me with stones. They marched from the mortuary to my house. They destroyed so many things. They burnt my motorbike and picked my wife’s money. My wife sells drinks. They broke some cartons of bottles. They beat those who were with me. Some ran away. The technician who repairs the mortuary freezers was also attacked. They used a stone on his hand, drained the fuel in his motorbike tank and used the fuel to burn my motorbike.”
Police bullets hit two demonstrators
The raid on the mortuary man’s house resulted further in a wild demonstration that turned bloody in front of the Bolgatanga Police Station.
The police arrested two men in connection with the raid whilst the body, shut in a coffin, was being taken to Yorogo. News of the arrests disrupted the funeral procession as the mourners became more inflamed and changed the direction of the procession towards the police station.
Hell broke thoroughly loose after the grieving mob arrived at the station, dumped the coffin right in front of policemen, demanded immediate release of the two men or put the coffin also behind bars and maintained they would not leave with the corpse-occupied coffin without those under arrest. Two of the demonstrators went down, bleeding perilously, after police fired off warning shots to disperse the ranting crowd. Birds inhabiting the trees at the police station and around the scene flew apart to safety at an uninterrupted boom sound of the gun.
The outcome triggered a stir in the municipality as passersby, particularly residents who were shopping ahead of the Eid al-Fitr celebration, took a blind dive for cover in the busy streets around the trouble scene. But the warning shots rather sort of warmed up the already horrifying situation as women wailed and an ambulance screamed.
The dissenting crowd dispersed slowly as more shots sounded in the air to keep the demonstrators off, but the coffin remained where it was. Soon after the two protesters hit by the bullets had been rushed to the emergency wards of the regional hospital, a special operation pickup arrived and soldiers jumped down from it. More arrests were made and more warning shots pushed back the angry crowd further. Eventually, the rest of the demonstrators fled from terror, leaving behind the horror they dumped in front of the police station. A police detachment, each member pointing a gun upwards, moved several yards from the station and put up metal barricades at the two junctions leading to the station on the Bolgatanga-Bawku Road.
The Bolgatanga Municipal Police Commander, Superintendent Samuel Punobyin, told Starr News four people, including the Assemblyman for Yorogo, Peter Adongo, had been arrested in connection with the gamut of tragedies that rocked the capital just within 24 hours out of the blue.
Shot demonstrator dies
One of the demonstrators shot Friday night was reported dead Saturday morning as relatives were about to bury James Ataburo at Yorogo.
“I was sure he would die because I saw him and I actually had no hope for him. They shot him from the back. The bullet went through from the back. He was bleeding and was restless at the time they came. One, I think, was teargased. He was really suffocating. But I had no hope for the one they shot because the bullet went through the back and came through the ribs in front. There was bullet penetration,” Dr. Samson Sapaak, a senior staff at the regional hospital, told Starr News Saturday.
Starr News visited both the houses of the mortuary man and the man his car crashed to death. There were sympathisers at both ends, miles apart. Whilst it was a counting moment of lost valuables at the house of the former, who was away at the police station as of the time Starr News was at his residence, it was a mourning scene of an irreversible damage at the house of the latter.
“The road is being constructed. The construction is now at a stage where if you are coming from Bongo, you have to wait for the one coming from Bolga to pass on the free lane before you continue. The mortuary man was coming from Bongo and was speeding. He did not wait for the motor rider (James). He just ran into him,” said Robert Adongo, a relative of the deceased, who also had a heavy plaster tagged on a wound on his forehead. He said the mortuary man hurled a stone at him during the struggle that came up after the Friday’s auto crash.
There is anxiety and there is despair as it remains unclear the direction the developments are heading. It is the security agencies who now have a scary task to ensure an escalation does not eventuate from the bloody troubles. And it is Yorogo, an old citadel of affordable cost of living, who now has two funerals no one saw coming in a rainy week.