Accra, Ghana - The police have begun questioning the leadership of the Word Miracle Church International (WMCI) over a sporadic shooting incident which claimed one life at Avenor, near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, in the early hours of yesterday.
This follows claims that the church organised some landguards, including the one who was shot dead, to carry out an exercise in the area which is mostly occupied by people suspected to be squatters.
The police therefore invited the leadership of the church for questioning to ascertain the truth in the allegation.
A high-powered delegation from the church, led by its General Secretary, Bishop Hansel Agyei Frimpong, went to the Greater Accra Police Command to answer questions concerning the incident.
The church and the supposed squatters have given different accounts of what led to the shooting incident.
While the squatters accuse the church of sending armed landguards to the place to attack them, the church also claims it was the residents who started shooting at their workers who had gone to the site to work, and that they had not engaged the services of any landguards.
A certain Reverend Samuel Owusu Nsiah, who spoke to The Chronicle on the directive of the General Secretary of the church, said the police invited them as part of their investigations.
Whilst admitting that the church sent some people to the said land to work, he denied that those individuals were landguards, as was being speculated, since, according to him, they were labourers who had been engaged to dig trenches for construction work to begin.
He narrated that when these labourers went to the site to work last Friday, they were compelled by circumstances to abandon the idea, and left, since they were threatened by some residents in the area, most of whom he said, were squatters on the land.
According to him, they decided not to go there until yesterday, when the gory incident occurred.
Minutes after they started work, and were lifting some concrete blocks, the Reverend noted, the workers saw people coming from all sides, some of whom were wielding guns.
This, according to him, made the workers stop work, and they started running for fear of losing their lives.
At this point, he noted, the attacking group, which appeared to be well-organised, started firing shots into the workers who were fleeing, an assertion disputed by residents of the area, who said the people were landguards, and that they rather were the ones who fired the shots at them.
Residents in the area told the paper that the supposed landguards arrived at the site in a 207 Mercedes Benz bus, with registration number GT 4034 W, to continue with an unfinished demolition exercise they started last Wednesday, on a parcel of land they claimed to be owned by the Ahmadiya Muslim Mission, but suspected to have been resold to the Word Miracle Church by the Chief of the area.
The supposed landguards were said to be wielding pump-action guns, pistols, AK 47 assault rifles and machetes, amidst the chanting of war songs.
Their action, according to eye witnesses who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity, infuriated the boys in the area, majority of who are artisans, to respond to their tantrums.
In the process, they narrated that one of the boys in the area confronted one of the landguards who was wearing dreadlocks, and dared him to go ahead with the demolition exercise.
This triggered a heated argument, which resulted in the death of one person whose left arm was amputated.
There and then, the whole area turned into a battlefield, with the residents running helter-skelter.
Sensing the danger of what could befall them, considering the number of people in the area, the landguards were said to have beaten a hasty retreat, by firing their way out with guns, leaving the amputee and their vehicle behind.
When the police team from the Regional Police Command and the Neoplan Police Station, in which jurisdiction the incident occurred, got to the scene at a time the exchanges had ended.
At the time The Chronicle visited the area, the Neoplan Police, led by Madam Diana Amoako, was busily interrogating some residents over the incident. They managed to retrieve some cartridges and machetes.
Madam Amoako however told The Chronicle that her outfit received the news via a radio report, and quickly responded by moving into the area with some personnel to restore order.
The police have since taken the dead body to an undisclosed mortuary.
The Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Rose Bio Atinga, told the paper that they had begun intensive investigations into the incident, and that the police have arrested 27 people in connection with the incident, 17 of whom are believed to be landguards.