Regional News Tue, 17 Feb 2004

'Complainants Turn Accused' in Electricity Cable Theft Case?

Navrongo (U/E), Feb. 17, GNA - The Attorney-General's Department, the Kassena-Nankana District Assembly and the Volta River Authority (VRA) have been called upon to act fast to restore the confidence of the people of Natugnia, near Navrongo, in the country's judicial system. Mr Peter Amuna, Assemblyman for Natugnia Electoral Area who made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Navrongo at the weekend, said anything short of a swift intervention could also dampen the people's communal spirit.

The assemblyman related that he and two young men from the Natugnia chief's house, Jacob Ayariga and Peter Ayamba, were currently being humiliated in court for no other reason than arresting two thieves who were caught cutting high-tension cables from six electric poles in the community on November 13, 2003.

He said the culprits - Moro Anyoka and Salifu Barre - were handed over to the Navrongo police who put them before the Kassena-Nankana District Magistrate's Court in Navrongo last November.

The court, presided by Judge Odame Aduffo, granted bail to the suspects, who have engaged the services of two lawyers to defend them.

Mr Amuna said since then, they had appeared in court five times and on February 12, the case was adjourned again to February 19, 2004. He said for the five times that he and the other two complainants appeared in court, they have been humiliated with embarrassing questions from the defence counsel and made to feel as if it was they the complainants who were rather standing trial.

According to the Assemblyman, when the case began in November last year, he drew the attention of the District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr George Danyari, to the matter but the DCE asked him to direct his complaint to the VRA Office.

He alleged that on arrival at the VRA office in Bolgatanga, the officials there did not show any interest in his story. "Each time we are about to go to court and I go to inform them they tell me they are very busy," he said, adding "everybody is now dodging and leaving the whole matter on us, as if we did the wrong thing by arresting those suspects."

Mr Amuna further expressed fears that the situation would make people in the community reluctant to correct anomalies in the future. Moreover, he, as the assemblyman would also encounter some difficulty in convincing the people to participate in communal projects.

When contacted, the DCE told the GNA that on receiving the complaint, he asked the VRA officials to intervene in the case. He was, however, not aware that VRA had not complied with his advice.

Efforts to get the Area Manager of VRA for comment were unsuccessful as he had travelled out of town, but a source at the office told the GNA that the Natugnia power project had been awarded to a private contractor who had not yet completed the job.

"Since the contractor has not yet handed over the project to VRA, we think the responsibility to appear in court rests more on the contractor rather than us," the source explained.

Source: GNA