Security collapses under Volta Regional Minister, but he is still at post

Volta Regional Minister, Archibald Letsa Volta Regional Minister, Archibald Letsa

Everything is pointing to a collapsed security situation under the Volta Regional Minister, Archibald Letsa, leaving persons travelling from Accra to Ho, Aveyime, Adidome, Mepe, Akuse, Sogakope, and Aflao stranded, following an early morning blockade of roads by marauding miscreants operating in the name of the Western Togoland separatists from the Homeland Study Group.

The Volta Regional Minister, called on stranded travelers to keep calm as national security personnel try to salvage the situation, however, many are wondering as to why the medical doctor turned politician, is still at post, having failed to crush the miscreants.

The troublemakers, had launched simultaneous attack on the Aveyime and Mepe Police Stations in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region and succeeded in stopping vehicles loaded with passengers from entering and exiting the region through Sogakope and Atimpoku for many hours.

They forcibly took over both stations simultaneously, overpowered the police officers, broke into the armoury, and made away with all the weapons and used them to terrorize people.

"They naked the police officers on duty, took their weapons, and locked them in the cells before breaking into the armoury," said an eye witness.

There are also reports of attacks on a number of police posts amidst the burning of tires, Citi News reports that some three persons, have suffered gunshot wounds.

The Ghana Police Service, had also urged persons travelling from Accra to Ho, Aveyime, Adidome, Mepe, Akuse, Sogakope, and Aflao, to be cautious on such roads due to heavy vehicular traffic.

The police explained this to be as a result of security operations ongoing within those areas, following roadblocks believed to have been perpetrated by secessionist group, Homeland Study Foundation.

"Good morning Ghana, commuters to and from Accra to Ho, Aveyime, Adidome, Mepe, Akuse, Sogakope and Aflao are likely to experience traffic due to security operations within those areas."

"Anybody travelling on any of those roads should exercise caution," the Ghana Police Service urged in a post on Facebook, adding it is conducting a security operation on such roads due to road blockade by members of the secessionist group, Homeland Study Foundation, also known as the Western Togoland group.

The action by the group is believed to have taken place on the dawn of Friday, September 25, 2020.

"The Western Togoland members have blocked all the roads in the Volta region. We don't know what is going on because we are unable to go close to them. There are some navy personnel around. We have left our buses to go to Sogakope. We do not know what will happen amidst the gunshots the people are firing", one of the stranded travellers told Citi News.

The troublemakers at Mepe after hoisting a Western Togoland flag joined their colleagues at the Aveyime Police Station, also seized two police vehicles, and injured an officer.

Eye witnessed accounts detailed that one of the vehicles was driven away by the armed men.

The group numbering about 50, reportedly made of locals from Mepe, Aveyime, Battor, and surrounding communities, were later chanting war songs and jubilating their successful operations.

They, however, absconded from the station before daylight to prevent them from being identified.

The Western Togolanders, also used heaps of sands to block the Mepe-Sege road and the Accra-Ho road at Juapong, preventing the flow of traffic.

It is reported that the Sogakofe Divisional Commander, Chief Supt Dennis Fiakpi, is being held hostage at Avayime-Battor, along with three other police officers.

Speaking on Joy FM, the Volta Regional Minister, Archibald Letsa, appealed to stranded travellers on the roads to exercise patience as the Volta Regional Security Council, executed their plan to reopen the Volta Region.

"In the next hour or two, the situation will be brought under control," he said.

He mentioned that security agencies in the Volta Region will do everything possible to get things going and quell the uprising.

He reiterated that travellers stay calm and stay put, and pay heed to instructions from security personnel that will be deployed to the area to ensure their safety.

"They have to be calm and take instructions from the security agency," he said.

He also mentioned that everything will be done to ensure the safe return of the three officers in the custody of the separatists.

According to the Volta Regional Minister, the people of the Volta Region are embarrassed by the activities of the separatists.

"I think the majority of the people in the Volta Region, majority, if I say majority, 95-98% of the people don't support what is going on. In fact they are very much embarrassed by the activities of these people," he said.

The activities of the group first came to light in May 2019, following the arrest of Charles Kwame Kudzordi alias "Papavi" a 93-old, said to be undertaken several activities, including the hoisting of the supposed flag of 'Western Togoland' in front of the Volta Regional Coordinating Council on the eve of Ghana's independence day celebration this year.

A joint team of military and Police forces rounded up some 14 persons suspected to be members of Homeland Study Group Foundation, which has been pushing for the "independence" of Western Togoland from Ghana.

The 14 who were picked up at Kpando Aziavi in the Volta Region, were allegedly in a crunch meeting, discussing strategies to destabilise Ghana, according to the military.

There had also been arrests in the Northern Region in the name of the Western Togoland.

The Second in command of the 66 artillery regiment in Ho, Major Jalal Din Ibrahim, told the media the strategic documents intercepted from the meeting detailed a strategy for an uprising in the areas the group claims belong in the so-called Western Togoland.

The 14 were handed over to the Volta Regional Police Command on Saturday evening, pending investigations.

The military has also intensified its visibility in the region following what Major Jalal Din Ibrahim says is intelligence gathered on some planned activities of the group in the Volta Region.

The military assures that with the collaboration among the Police, BNI and the Military, all the plans of the secessionist group will be foiled.

Interestingly, the 93-year old Papavi, who lives in Ho, was later reported to have gone into hiding and eluding all state security apparatus. He was said to have been taken to court and granted bail after which he absconded.

In February this year, the 66 Artillery Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) again rounded up 21 people suspected to be linked to the separatist Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF) from a secret training camp at Kpevedui, near Dzodze in the Ketu North municipality in the Volta Region.

The recruits, made up of 20 males and a female, were busted in a dawn raid on the training camp in a valley, buried deep in a thick forest at Feivu, near Kpevedui, where they had allegedly been taken through military training for the past one week.

Until the arrest, members of the group, who are mostly in their early 20s, were said to be undergoing military drills and physical training. They were airlifted to Accra and placed in the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) for further interrogations.

The Commanding Officer of the 66 Artillery Regiment in Ho, Lt Col Bernard Baba Pantoah, told journalists who joined the military to the secret training camp that the raid followed intelligence the military picked up about activities at the secret training camp.

"We got the information on Sunday afternoon that the secessionists were training in a secret camp, so we put a plan in place and launched the operation in the night. By dawn, we had already surrounded the training camp with our 40 men from the 66 Artillery Regiment and two crime scene investigators," he said.

Interestingly, they were later set free without any official explanation from the National Security Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah, Inspector General of Police (IGP) James Oppong Boanuh, the Chief of Defense Staff; Lieutenant General Obed Boamah Akwa, the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery or the Defense Minister, Dominic Aduna Bingab Nitiwul.

Some observers, have said the group is being managed by the Akufo-Addo government to divert attention anytime the government is under pressure.

Indeed, some people who were arrested in the "Kitchen knife coup", have been released on bail after almost a year in custody, despite claims by the government that it had overwhelming evidence that coup was been planned by the group, including soldiers, police officers, a medical doctor and others mainly from the Volta Region.

Source: The Herald