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General News of Friday, 28 December 2007

Source: Daily Guide Network

Parents got Ghanaian "suicide bomber" to confess

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It took the biological parents of the convicted Ghanaian London bomber, Ishmael Abubakar, also known as Asiedu Manfo, to fly to the United Kingdom before he confessed his role in that tragic incident.

This was revealed to DAILY GUIDE in an exclusive interview with the parents at the Bolgatanga home of 34-year-old Ishmael Abubakar, better known as Sumaila amongst his friends. Alhaji Abubakar Kong Kolog, the father of Sumaila, the convicted bomber, however stands by his son and believes he could not have committed the crime that the court convicted him of.

Ishmael Abubakar, who has come to be known as Asiedu Manfo, after he took the identity of the son of Dr Kofi Kesse Manfo, former deputy Inspector General of Police, is currently serving a jail sentence of 33 years after admitting to conspiracy to cause explosions.

Sumaila's father said after the July 21, 2005 bomb attack on the London transport system which killed 52 persons including a Ghanaian nurse, his son, upon his advice, reported himself to the police. Narrating the series of events which led to his son's arrest and conviction, Alhaji Kong Kolog said Sumaila called one day to say that he had been invited by the security agencies in connection with trouble that his friends were involved in and that he was prepared to go but thought he should inform his parents first.

"Judging by the way we had brought him up and how he had always been, I knew my son would not do anything silly, so I asked him to go and find out why the security agencies had invited him.

"That was the last I heard of him till one morning when I had a call from the offices of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI). "The caller said that I was needed at the offices of the BNI in Accra very urgently," he stated.

He intimated that since he could not tell why he was being invited there, he asked a relative to accompany him.

"When I got to their office, I was ushered into the conference room where I met two men who were introduced to me as security operatives from the UK and had arrived to hold talks with me in connection with my son's involvement in a bomb attack."

Sumaila's father said they told him that his son had been arrested and explained to him why he was in detention.

"They added that Sumaila had refused to speak to them and therefore it had become important for them to send me to London to see my son and to get him to confess for a lenient sentence."

According to Alhaji Kolog, the UK security operatives invited him with his wife to London but she was then visiting relatives in Burkina Faso so he made the trip with Sumaila's younger sister, Fati. Alhaji, who did not say when exactly he traveled to London, lamented that it was not easy making the trip because he could not imagine how his son could be involved in a bomb attack and what the young man was going through at the time. He said he broke down in tears when he saw his son at the detention centre where he was being kept.

To make things worse, the security men did not give them an inch of space and stayed with them throughout the visit and they had to speak English so that every word would be recorded. Continuing, Alhaji Kolog Abubakar noted that Sumaila had maintained that he was innocent.

"He said he did not speak to the police because he did not trust them."

Alhaji Kolog said he believed that his son was convicted for a crime he did not commit, stressing that his belief was hinged on the fact that he and his wife, Hajia Alima Apelgayamiga Abubakar, gave their son good training. "I still do not believe that Sumaila was convicted of such a crime, when our religion forbids the act of taking people's lives," he lamented.

Sumaila, according to the father, had queried how he could have turned himself in if indeed he was guilty of the crime as alleged. He noted that his son had disclosed that of all those suspected persons he was the only one who did not try to run away but turned himself in, asking why he would do all that if he was actually involved in the fatal bombing.

Alhaji Kolog stated that together with his daughter, they visited Sumaila once more before returning to Ghana.

He was quick to point out that the Ghana High Commission in the UK, the British security agencies and his son's legal counsel were very nice to them during their stay in London.

Asked if his son mentioned to him how he came by the ID card of K.K. Manfo's son, Asiedu Manfo, which was on him at the time of his arrest, he said Sumaila had explained to him that like a lot of other immigrants who did not have the required documents to work, he had acquired the ID in order to earn a living in London, adding that his son was named Ishmael Abubakar, not Asiedu Manfo as he was being referred to in media circles. It will be recalled that the jury was unable to reach a verdict in the first trial, in which he was charged with murder, and Sumaila was to face a retrial. However, he later changed his plea, pleading guilty to conspiracy to cause explosion. The prosecution subsequently dropped the charge of conspiracy to murder and he was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court.

For her part, Hajia Alima, Sumaila's mother, who corroborated her husband's story, noted that she could not travel with her husband when he visited the bomber because she had then traveled to Burkina Faso to visit some relatives. She said her son called the family when she returned to Ghana to say that his counsel had advised him to plead guilty, adding that his friends who tried to run away were likely to get severe sentences and that if he pleaded guilty he was likely to get a leaner punishment.

Hajia, who looked worried and made intermittent pauses, sometimes to look at the ceiling, said she believed her son was indeed innocent. On her son's educational background, Hajia Alima said Sumaila was born at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, where he started his education in the Tahiria Arabic & English School.

The family later moved to Tamale, where the accused enrolled again in an Arabic & English school in Sakasaka and later the Navrongo Secondary School (NAVASCO). After completing NAVASCO, Sumaila moved to Tema in the Greater Accra Region to attend an Aviation school. It was after completing the Aviation course and helping his father with some construction works in Ada and Big Ada that he actually reaffirmed his desire to travel abroad, after an earlier expression of doing so.

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