Ghana’s Deputy Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Hajia Boya Hawawu Gariba, has admitted that she fired warning shots to scare away some members of the Spring of Life Assemblies of God Church for allegedly attacking her at her residence at Tampe-Kukoo in the Sagnarigu District in the Northern Region on Christmas Day.
Hajia Gariba said she fired the warning shot in self-defence during a confrontation that ensued at her residence after some members of the church had entered her house to find out who had sprayed a substance, believed to be pepper, into the sitting room of an adjoining house close to the Deputy Ambassador’s residence where the church was holding a church service on Christmas Day.
She made the confession in an interview with the Daily Graphic and later at a meeting between her and the leadership of the church at the instance of the Tamale Metropolitan Police Commander, Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr William Lovoe, in Tamale yesterday.
While Hajia Gariba, in the said interview, insisted that she had fired the warning shots to defend herself from being attacked by the church members, numbering about 30, who had entered her residence, an elder of the church, Elder Yakubu Iddrisu, told the Daily Graphic that some members of the church had gone to Hajia Gariba’s house to find out who had fired a tear gas-like substance into the sitting room while the church service was going on.
According to Elder Iddrisu, the substance, which they suspected to be tear gas, had made some of their members to collapse, while others became weak after coughing profusely.
He said those who collapsed as a result of the irritating nature of the smoke in the sitting room were later revived.
Elder Iddrisu further debunked Hajia Gariba’s assertion that the church members who went to her residence to find out who had sprayed the substance into the sitting room had attacked her and others in the house.
In the interview, Hajia Gariba had explained that she sprayed the pepper into the sitting room of the adjoining house to stop the church members from making noise which had become unbearable to her and members of her household, including a sick old man.
Elder Iddrisu told the Daily Graphic that Hajia Gariba was their neighbour and that the house in which they held the church service belonged to the Pastor of the Spring of Life Assemblies of God Church, Pastor Gideon Panka.
However, the police, at a meeting held at the Tamale Metropolitan Police Station between the two parties and Hajia Gariba confirmed that she had fired the warning shots and also sprayed pepper into Pastor Panka’s sitting room during the church service following the refusal of the church members to heed her advice to minimise the noise they made each time they held a church service there.
The Northern Regional Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ghana Police Service, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mr Ebenezer Tetteh, who briefed the Daily Graphic after the meeting, said the police had directed Hajia Gariba to produce a photocopy of the licence of the gun she used in firing the warning shots, while the church had been asked to produce a copy of the permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which allowed it to hold church services in a residential area.
He said the police, after that, would commence investigations into the matter, adding that the police had issued medical forms to two persons who got injured during the confrontation, one from Hajia Gariba’s residence, while the other is a member of the church.
ASP Tetteh said during a church service at the Spring of Life Assemblies of God Church at Tampe-Kukoo in the Sagnarigu District on December 25, 2016, church members who had finished with their praise and worship session started coughing, while others collapsed.
At that point, they realised that an irritant substance had been sprayed into the sitting room where they were holding their Christmas Day church service.
He said some of the church members went to the adjoining house which belonged to Hajia Gariba to find out who had sprayed the substance into the sitting room, but a confrontation ensued between the church members and some people in Hajia Gariba’s house which led to an injury to a boy in the house and a member of the church.
He added that during the confrontation, Hajia Gariba fired warning shots which, according to her, were in self-defence.