…as queenmothers raise concerns over development
From Samuel Agbewoode, Ho
Queenmothers and concerned women groups in the Ketu-North and South
districts have asked the governments of Ghana and the Republic of Togo to, as a matter of urgency, take the necessary steps to stop the continuous brutalities being meted out to travelers, especially, women, at both sides of the Aflao border.
The queenmothers allege that immigration personnel at the Aflao border had been extorting monies from travelers at the Ghana and Togo side of the border, and that any traveler who failed to heed their demand is assaulted.
Addressing a press conference in Ho to protest against the wanton assaults, the spokesperson for the queenmothers and the concerned women groups, Mama Ayabah II, said the negative development at both sides of the border did not auger well for the promotion of cordial relations between the two nations.
Mama Ayabah continued that the unprofessional conduct of immigration officers at both sides of the Aflao border, was rather threatening the safety of the people and security at the border.
She alleged that the Ghanaian immigration officers demand between GH¢2.00 to GH¢5.00, while their Togolese counterparts demand CFA100, before a traveler is allowed to cross the border.
“The immigration officers in particular, refuse to allow travelers with national ID cards such as voters identification cards or health insurance cards to cross. They are often not prepared to listen to travelers’ explanations in Ewe, saying, ‘I don’t understand that language’.”
Mama Ayabah explained that to avoid being victims of harassment, embarrassment, and assault at the hands of these immigration officers, many travelers dress shabbily to outwit the immigration officers.
The queenmothers said there were a number of reported cases of such maltreatments, and unreported ones, citing for instance, that in August 2010, five of such cases were reported to the Ketu District Assembly and were investigated.
Mama Ayabah said the latest incident at the Aflao border was an assault case of a 23 year old pregnant woman, Madam Yawa Akakpo, who lost the pregnancy, which was alleged to be twins, as a result of severe brutalities by the immigration officers.
She explained that the 23 year old woman was returning from the New Hope Clinic at Avoeme near Denu in Ghana, and on reaching the border, the immigration officers stopped her and asked her to go back because she had no travelling documents. The woman pleaded with them, but the security personnel refused to hear her plea, which resulted in the assault, leading to the miscarriage of the pregnancy.
“Much as we would not like to be seen as interfering in, or dictating to the personnel of security operatives, especially at the Aflao border, we cannot sit down idle, while our humanity and dignity of womanhood is debased, violated, and destroyed with impunity,” she said.
The queenmothers noted that the negative conduct at the Aflao border was a result of the lack of education and knowledge on the part of the immigration officers on the traditional relationship between Ghana and Togo, especially in the two Ketu districts.