There is heightened tension between the military and the police in the Tamale metropolis following an attack on some policemen at various duty points in the metropolis by a group of armed soldiers Wednesday.
The armed soldiers, who were on board three branded military vehicles, according to eyewitnesses, first stormed the Northern Regional Police Headquarters and the Tamale Metro Police Command, both situated on the same compound, and fired warning shots, prompting the police to return fire.
The visibly angry soldiers, who were armed in war fashion, later attacked policemen stationed at various banks and other duty posts in and around the metropolis without any provocation.
Among the areas the rampaging soldiers attacked was the Northern Regional Police Commander’s bungalow, where they assaulted the policemen on duty. The soldiers allegedly seized a rifle from one of the policemen.
At the adb Bank main branch in Tamale, a policeman on duty was beaten to pulp, after which he was rushed to the Tamale Teaching Hospital after sustaining head injuries.
In all, about eight policemen sustained various degrees of injury in the separate attacks.
The action by the soldiers followed the arrest of their colleague, Air Force Corporal Eric Darko by the police to assist in investigations into an assault case.
According to a police source, Corporal Darko reported himself to the Northern Regional Office of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) in Tamale Wednesday to be processed for court for allegedly assaulting a civilian about three weeks ago.
Later, the suspect sought permission to make a call to his superiors at the Kamina Barracks in Tamale but took to his heels.
The police, however, pursued him and re-arrested him at a location behind Nassant Ventures, a popular supermarket in the metropolis.
When the police were way back to the police station with Cpl Darko, a police investigator, Constable Believer Fordjour, was accosted by four soldiers who were on guard duties at the Bank of Ghana (BOG) office and who intervened and promised to bring their colleague, who had been handcuffed, to the police station.
When the investigator refused to open the handcuffs on the suspect, he was assaulted by the soldiers, who forcibly took the keys from him and freed their colleague, who is said to be at large.
Colleagues of Cpl Darko reacted to the incident by rushing to town in their numbers to attack any policeman they sighted.
The police, realising that they were under siege in their own backyard, also armed themselves for any possible attack by the soldiers, who drove around the Regional and the Metropolitan Police commands, amid the firing of warning shots.
The incident, which lasted about three hours, attracted the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Salifu Saeed, and members of the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) to the Regional Police Headquarters to calm down tension, as the police were also mobilising to retaliate.
The outgoing Northern Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr Patrick Adusei Sarpong, was not available for comment because he was attending a REGSEC meeting.
However, the Northern Regional Coordinator of the DOVVSU, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Emmanuel Holortu, told the Daily Graphic that on May 1, 2018, Alhassan Habib, a taxi driver, had gone to the unit to lodge a complaint against Cpl Darko, who was said to be the owner of Habib’s taxi.
According to DSP Holortu, Cpl Darko, in the company of Flt Lt Bani of the Airborne Force in Tamale, came to his office and was granted police inquiry bail on May 8, 2018.
And when the suspect reported back yesterday for further interrogation into the matter, he escaped, leading to the unfortunate incident.
Response of the military
The Public Relations Officer of the Northern Command, Captain Nathaniel Asamoah, told the Daily Graphic that the issue had been brought to its notice and that the military was investigating the matter.
According to him, Cpl Darko was injured and was currently receiving medical attention at the 6 Battalion (6BN) Medical Centre.
Meanwhile, Mr Saeed has condemned the clashes.
He described them as unacceptable and called on both the military and the police commands to call their men to order.
About two months ago, there was a misunderstanding between some military men and policemen in the Tamale metropolis, leading to some disturbances.
The frosty relationship between the security outfits in Tamale in recent times compelled the Northern Regional Security Council to set up a committee to investigate the first incident, but the report is yet to be made public.
Also, as part of measures to improve military-police relations in the region, a walk was organised in the early part of April this year to foster unity between them.