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General News of Saturday, 22 June 2019

Source: starrfm.com.gh

Bunkprugu: Tension mounts after killing of community ‘hero’

A secret killing of a popular philanthropist in Bunkprugu in the North East Region has sparked widespread communal outrage, putting a three-year-old ceasefire agreement in imminent danger as clan members accuse police of undue delays and prosecutorial misconduct.

Joseph Migal Jakpruk, a promising native of the area and Accra East Deputy Distribution Manager of the of Ghana Water Company Limited, was brutally killed six months ago in a night ambush at a village near Nalerigu.

He, together with two others in a separate vehicle, were traveling back home on December 31, when hooded gunmen, who had blocked the road, appeared from a nearby bush and attacked his convoy.

The gunmen opened fire on the vehicles before dragging out Joseph from his V8 vehicle and shot him more than three times, resulting in damaged ribs and broken waist. One person managed to escape the attack and two persons in the second vehicle were left unharmed by the attackers.

The attackers then took away an amount of Gh25,000 which the victim was transporting to the town to carry out his philanthropic works and also for completion of personal construction projects.

Police launched an investigation into the incident and arrested three persons, including an alleged main suspect and a mastermind behind the deadly attack named Zachariah Biimi Naandam.

Investigators preliminarily uncovered that the pick up vehicle used by the attackers to carryout the assassination belonged to this prime suspect. Police also allegedly found arms and ammunition when they searched the house of this prime suspect.

The suspect also a native of Bunkprugu and influential rival family member was kept in custody upon court orders but was removed shortly afterward, and since then, his prosecution has stalled.

The Bunkprugu district is just recovering from a state of perpetual war linked to chieftaincy. Two royal families laid entrenched competing claims over the Bunkrugu skin leading to a full blown violence in 2006.

The violence, between the jafouk and jamong families, raged sporadically for nearly a decade, killing more than a double dozen and rattled the country’s treasury.

After several failed mediation efforts, hostilities led to a total cut down of further regional and national development interventions and established Bunkprugu as a known chieftaincy hotbed.

Calm returned to Bunkprugu in 2016 when the warring factions agreed to a permanent ceasefire after a sacred customary blood burial ceremony.

This cultural practise has been reserved by the Bimoaba people for times of serious conflict and desperate situation and its mostly done by slaughtering and burying live livestock. It is generally believed that anyone who will violate or act contrary to the terms and agreement of this practise has committed a sacrilege and therefore liable to a grievous spiritual retribution.

However, the murder of Joseph Jakperuk or Joe, as he is popularly called, is increasing tension to dangerous levels and threatening peace and communal reintegration and harmony.

Starr News visited the Bunkprugu township and spent days talking to angry local clan members and several distressed beneficiaries of the deceased’s charity efforts, and found a growing impatience and agitations over the erratic police investigations into the matter.

The residents suspect a foul play in the killing and called for expedited probe and quick prosecution of the attackers in order to sustain and preserve the peace deal.

The queen mother of Bunkprugu, Jam Adisah described the deceased as a superhero who was restoring hope and putting smile in the faces of poverty stricken widows, orphans and underprivileged schoolchildren.

“He supported all kinds of students with extra classes and gave interest free loan to poor but vibrant women, and as I speak now, I even collapsed on his burial day”, she said, adding, “if they don’t arrest these criminals there would not be peace.”

Grieving mother of the deceased, Jakperuk Hanah, discounted police narrative that the killing was carried out by suspected robbers and concluded that his son was ethnically or politically targeted.

“As I sit here, I have nobody again,” she laments. “so I’m pleading with the government to give my son justice if not there will never be peace in Bunkprugu town”.

A beneficiary widow, Laadi Akwasi 55, described the deceased as their “star, light and hope” and called on the security to find the killers and jail them.

“To me, those who murdered Joe should have been kept in prison until they jail them but not be released as the security did. If they don’t jail the perpetrators those criminals will do what is more than that, and I tell you, we are seated on a bomb”, she warned, saying, “if nothing is done to these murderers, the last conflict will be better than the one that is about to come; if only thats what the government and security want they should get ready for it, period!”.

Another widow, teary Faustina Marboor 46, told Starr News the murder of Joe has left them in constant pain and unhappiness and also appealed to government to intervene.

Starr News also spoke to some schoolchildren who were beneficiaries of an extra classes initiative put in place by the deceased. They expressed sadness over the murder and called on government to respond by ensuring justice is served.

Matilda, a fresh JHS graduate said the deceased was “so kind and loving to us and because of his kindness and love over us, he organised extra classes for us”.

For Matilda, the attackers should be found and killed.

Saaka Yakubu Daniel in JHS two says he is worried because there will not be free extra classes for his juniors. “I did not pay anything but my brothers and sisters who are coming are not going to get that opportunity because he is not alive today.

The youngster demanded the police to “do well and investigate the matter seriously and get those who killed him and let them rot in jail, because he was a nation developer, nation builder, and as they have killed him, its paining us,especially we in this town”.

The young men in the town, particularly sympathisers and supporters of the ruling jafouk royal family, is convinced the killing was carried out either by chieftaincy or political rivals.

They issued threat of reprisals, beating war drums unless the perpetrators and their sponsors are brought to justice.

“We want the Ghana police to understand that the arrest and release of suspects of Joe murder is not helpful,” 35-year-old Daniel Waajah said. “If the police keep delaying in the murder case of Joe there is going to be a retaliation which would be far serious than the previous conflicts in Bunkprugu”.

He also added that the youth would arise “for self-defense” if justice is not granted fast.

Another angry youth, Henry Francis, 30, called on investigators ‘to hasten up their investigation before we break loose in our anger.

“When we break loose in our anger, the forthcoming conflict will be much greater than the previous. We are pleading with the police to note that we are about losing temper and that will be very bad…and more vacuums will be created just as the vacuum of Joe was created”, Henry cautioned.