In Search Of Johnson Kombian (Alias Burger)

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 Source: Humphrey, Konlan K.

While sitting at my desk writing this article my heart is bleeding for my compatriots in Nakpanduri who went through brutalities, destruction of their properties and creeping of their economic life by no other person but the security personnel who are paid with the task payers money to protect all Ghanaians.

Nakpanduri had been and continues to be a peace loving community until the emerging of Johnson Gulkuun Kombian who decided to embark on robbery spree around the area thus putting the name of this great and wonderful town into disrupt. Johnson at times admitted to his close associates and peers that he feels uncomfortable with the tag on him as an arm robber even though he cannot stop stealing. The people of Nakpanduri would admit that he is very respectful and does not steal anything from the village.

Gulkuun, which literally means I have accepted death as the residents of Nakpanduri know him, has been hardened by the security personnel in the Northern and Upper East Regions. One may wonder why I chose to say he had been hardened by the security personnel.

According to the security agencies, he escaped from jail several times, the last been the Tamale prisons on 15 January 2010. Prior to that he had escaped twice from the same prison, twice from Togo Prisons and once from the Gambaga prisons. In all ‘Burger’ had escape from Ghanaian prisons on four different occasions.

There are several questions the prison authorities need to answer about these numerous jail breaks by Johnson. However, in view of the heinous crimes he commits when he breaks jail, people turn to forget about the inactions of those who made him to break jail.

No one can convince me and my compatriots that on all these jail breaks there was no connivance with the prison officers. He has built a good network within the security set up and is even able to know who gives information about him to the security. Indeed rumors had it that he was aware of the current police operation two clear days before and one wonders who could have informed him about it if not insiders within the security forces.

On all these numerous jail breaks not a single prison officer had been reprimanded. All what the police are doing is trying to get him re-arrested and send to the same prisons with the same prison officers who masterminded his escape.

During the last jail break from Tamale prisons in January 2010 we were told that a committee had been set up to investigate what led to his escape. The question on the minds of most discerning people is what has become of the committee’s report. May be since January 2010, the committee is still working.

It is therefore disheartening for the Northern and Upper East Regional Police Commanders to heap the blame on innocent citizens of Nakpanduri and its environs for shielding Johnson when they the security agencies could not keep him safely in prisons on four different occasions when they had the opportunity of apprehending him. Who should be blamed in this saga is it the security agencies or the law abiding citizens of Nakpanduri?

If the police would be fair and tell the truth they would admit that they had collaboration from the community which enabled them to arrest Johnson on four different occasions and they allowed him to walk away free. Like the chief rightly put it, the police should purge their ranges of Johnson agents in the police and prison services and leave the citizens of Nakpanduri in peace.

ACP Bridget Oduro and ACP Angwubutoge Awuni of the Upper East and Northern Regional Police Command respectively should therefore purge their ranges of ‘Burgers’ informants within them and stop blaming and terrorizing innocent citizen of this community with unnecessary and imperceptive police swoops.

The question for the police to answer is whether the four times that Gulkuun was arrested was he arrested in a police swoop like it happened recently and earlier this year?

Those people who have been arrested for harbouring Gulkuun are completely innocent people who have just been picked to window dress the police service operational blunders.

The police should know that there is informant fatigue which the people of the town are grappling with after several jail breaks of Johnson. Who in his right senses would provide information for the arrest of a criminal knowing the same person would be allowed to walk free and thus putting your own life in danger. If he is capable of having agents within the security who provide him with information about police operations what is the guarantee that those same people cannot disclose the identity of informants to him.

The police knew and the citizens of the town also know that ‘burger’ will harm anyone who he suspects might be collaborating with the security to get him arrested. Indeed, people who ‘Burger’ suspects are leaking information to the security agencies have either left the village or are living in fear.

On March 23, 2010, shooting incident of a policeman in Nakpanduri, the police knew he was the one who shot the policeman but they made the whole world believe that it was an irate youth of the town only to later realize he was the perpetrator of the shooting incident. The police response was to close down the police station fearing for the safety of its officers.

Once the police station was shutdown, the indigenes had no body to inform even if that could lead to his arrest. For instance, should somebody spot him and use the mobile phone to call the police, it means the police have to travel over 25 miles from the district capital to Nakpanduri to search for him and by then where would he be. The closure of the police station further emboldens Johnson because to him the police was forced out of the town because of him.

To add insults to injury, with the recent barbaric destruction of properties and burning of 22 houses by the police personnel, the Interior Minister who was on a different mission rather chose to heap aspersions on the people by asserting that he thought the whole town had been burnt. What an insult? No wonder our wise chief told him point blank that he was disappointed in him. He deserves a sack from President Mills Cabinet.

Speaking to news men later the Interior Minister explained that the police station would be re-opened when Johnson is arrested. I see this as unfortunate and unacceptable coming from a Cabinet Minister who at one time wanted to be a vice president of this country. How can the police arrest him when they are not on the ground in Nakpanduri?

The people of Nakpanduri are Ghanaians and the Government has an obligation to ensure that they provide security for peace loving people to go about their duties without fear of being attacked by robbers. For a Minister of cabinet status to say this to the people of the area is most unfortunate and unheard of. It means we have been left to our faith, no protection come what may. I do not think the President should have such Ministers in his cabinet.

Okay, what would be the Government’s reaction if the people of Nakpanduri decide that since they have no security they would not vote in the coming district level elections and the general elections in 2012? Or alternatively they would seek refugee status in neighbouring Togo since they cannot get protection from their own Government.

The recent swoop by police after the shooting and killing of two Cops was highly unprofessional and amounted to operational failure. To justify this unacceptable way of conducting operations aimed at arresting Johnson, people like Kwesi Fori of the Police Public relations unit could sit in Accra and comment on issues without facts but distortions from the two regional police bosses (UER/NR).

According to Kwesi Fori everything the police did was measured and in accordance with law. This came from a Director of Police Public Relations how unfortunate who should know better.

Is Kwesi Fori telling Ghanaians that it was lawful to burn 22 houses, stores and steal money and mobile phones from people’s rooms by policemen?

Is he telling us that the police have their own definition of what constitutes law?

Is he telling us that arresting people without telling them in the language they understand why they are been arrested in accordance with article 14(2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana proper?

It is very unfortunate, if people who should know better resort to throw caution to the wind and start defending the indefensible. The action of the police in this matter was simply unacceptable and that should be admitted by the top hierarchy of the police.

Now let’s cast our minds back to the shooting and killing of the 2 Cops and wounding one. Unfortunate as this might be, it must be condemned in no uncertain terms. One life lost is one too many and no human blood should be spilled irrespective of whatever happens. My condolences to the bereaved families of these innocent young gallant men of the Police Service. May their souls respect in peace.

However, I would like readers to get the scenario clearly and make their own judgment about the conduct of the District Police Command in this matter. Nakpanduri is about 25 miles away from the district capital Bunkpurugu.

The police station in Nakpanduri was closed down sometime in March 2010. So the three policemen who were shot came from the district capital 25 miles away from Nakpanduri on one motorbike. Three policemen on one motor bike! I hope Kwesi Fori would say this too was lawful for three policemen to ride one motorbike 25 miles probably without helmets.

A professional district police command would send policemen out on duties 25 miles away when he knew that the police station in this town was closed down and should anything have happened calling for reinforcement was virtually impossible. Rumor has it that these policemen were in the area purposely to extort money from traders coming from Sankasi market in Togo.

There are so many unanswered questions that the police authorities need to answer and not to embark on failed operations. The scale of destruction and violation of the fundamental human rights of innocent citizens of Nakpanduri will have immense political and security implications for this country because we would definitely seek the option of crossing into Togo as refugees.

It is therefore not enough for the Interior Minister to render mere apologies to people who have lost properties running into billions of Ghana cedis. The Government should expedite action to compensate these people as soon as possible or else the political consequences would go beyond the borders of this country. We demand compensation for those who were unlawfully arrested in the failed swoop in accordance with article 14 (5) of the 1992 constitution as well as those who lost their properties.

We can assure the government that if this issue is not given the needed attention we will let our compatriots do the following which will be unpalatable for them in the international community.

Those whose houses have been burnt and they have no place to sleep neither food to eat will cross into Togo as refugees to get assistance from the Togolese government to sustain their livelihood.

Secondly, we could resort to court action against the Government whilst maintaining our status in Togo as refugees.

So the question is did the police swoop achieve anything? The answer is emphatic no because ‘Burger’ is still at large and a threat to the police and citizens of Ghana. The mere arrest of people bearing surname with Johnson cannot survive any serious legal challenge in the courts.

A word to the wise is in Nakpanduri in the Bunkpurugu District.


Konlan K. Humphrey

Concern Youth of Nakpanduri


Columnist: Humphrey, Konlan K.