By Emmanuel Akli
Forty eight hours after the arrest of the notorious criminal, Johnson Kombian Soloma, details have emerged over how he escaped from the Tamale Prisons, where he was serving a five-year jail term, and his criminal records.
Kombian, who has been accused of rape, murder and armed robbery, was arrested by Interpol in Northern Togo on Friday, after he was tricked by an informant that his wife was seriously sick in Togo. Unknown to him, the Togolese police had laid ambush, and he was immediately arrested when he crossed the border from Ghana.
He was transported to Lome, the Togolese capital, and handed over to the Ghanaian authorities at the Aflao border on Sunday morning. Kombian appeared in court yesterday, where he was remanded. Prior to his arrest, the police in Ghana had prepared a secret documentary file in which they narrated detailed accounts of how the number one criminal escaped from the Tamale Prisons, and the fruitless efforts made by the police to have him arrested.
Below is the full confidential report obtained by The Chronicle.
On Wednesday, 27th October, 2010, the Regional Police Commands of the Northern and Upper East respectively organised a joint manhunt operational exercise in Nakpanduri and its immediate environs in the Upper East Region.
Background and the purpose of the Operational Exercise
The main purpose of the operation was to search for, and arrest Johnson Kombian SOLOMA, a notorious convicted armed robber who has escaped from prison custody on three occasions, and who has recently carried out a spree of robberies and violent attacks on Ghanaians in a number of communities in the Northern and Upper East Regions, causing grievous bodily harm to many of them.
He has killed two (2) policemen and wounded two others who are currently on admission at the Police Hospital. The police had also positively identified Kombian as either the person solely responsible for committing a spate of crimes, especially, the snatching of motorcycles at gun-point in the Nakpanduri Scarp and the surrounding areas, or being the mastermind behind various violent criminal activities and other orchestrated acts of intimidation and terror in the Northern and Upper East regions, particularly, the Garu-Tempane-Bawku areas.
The operational exercise was also aimed at identifying persons who were suspected to be accomplices of Johnson Kombian Soloma in his criminal enterprise.
Criminal antecedents of Johnson Kombian Soloma alias Garkum alias Burger
Criminal Antecedents at Johnson Kombian had come to police notice for some time now, as a result of which he had been put on the Police “Wanted Persons’ watch list. Consequently, he had become the subject of close police intelligence monitoring and clandestine surveillance for a period of time – all of which efforts had been aimed at arresting him. This monitoring led to his arrest and subsequent prosecution by the police where he was given five (5) years jail sentence.
As would be recalled, on 15th January, 2010, at about 4:00 a.m., convict prisoner Johnson Kombian was found to have escaped from the lawful prison custody. At the time of his escape, the convict prisoner was also facing trial in a number of cases, including robbery, attempted murder, possession of firearms without lawful authority, escaping from lawful custody, failing to report on license, stealing etc.
According to reports, when Kombian’s escape from prison custody was detected, it was observed that the ventilation hole, made of wire mesh of Cell “A” where the convict was locked up, had been broken and the debris of the wall packed in the cells. The leg iron, which was used to shackle the convict prisoner, was also found opened, but there was no physical damage caused to suggest that the prisoner forced the leg iron open. All efforts made since convict prisoner Johnson Kombian’s escape by both the prison authorities and the police to re-capture him have been futile.
However, pieces of sources information received from Nakpanduri by the police, immediately after Kombian’s escape from prison, indicated that he had re-surfaced in the village, and had threatened to kill the police personnel who caused or facilitated the arrest, which culminated in his conviction. In fact, he even sent text messages to some senior police officers, including Regional Commanders, threatening to kill them.
His recent violent attacks on police personnel, during which he killed two (2) and two (2) others were seriously injured, go to confirm that he is truly on the “war path” against the police, as a means of seeking vengeance and retribution for their roles in arresting him on several occasions for the various criminal offences for which he was convicted and sentenced to jail.
Details of the Manhunt Operational Exercise mounted on Wednesday, 27th October, 2010 at Nakpanduri
It is against this background, as detailed above, that the police mounted the Manhunt Operational Exercise on Wednesday, 27th October, 2010, principally:
i. To search for the arrest of Johnson Kombian, and deal with him according to law.
ii. Cutting Kombian’s links with people in Nakpanduri and nearby villages who are suspected to be collaborating with, and providing valuable intelligence information to him on police movements, intentions and strategies by arresting them for questioning.
iii. Identifying and arresting Kombian’s suspected accomplices in Nakpanduri, Danugu and Danvorgu, Kombian’s parental native homes, in the many criminal activities perpetrated in the eastern corridor of the Northern and Upper East regions.
It is worth mentioning that prior to the mounting of the exercise, the police had gathered credible intelligence reports which indicated that after the shooting incident on 17th October, 2010 (in which Kombian killed two (2) policemen), he shuttled between Nakpanduri (his father’s home) and the twin villages of Danvorga and Danugu, his mother’s native home.
In the early hours of Saturday, 23 October 2010, the police carried out a manhunt exercise for Kombian at the villages mentioned, but he appeared to have had some hints about the operation, and managed to slip through unnoticed into Togo, thus escaping arrest.
Furthermore, on Tuesday, 26th October, 2010, at about 10:00 p.m., the police had a tip-off that Kombian had re-surfaced in Nakpanduri (Gomsuka is Kombian’s family village and it is in this part of Nakpanduri that he has always felt secure and protected).
In the early hours of Wednesday, 27th October, 2010, based on credible intelligence reports that Johnson Kombian was still holed up in Gomsuka village, a massive police manhunt operation was launched in Gomsuka and other parts of Nakpanduri.
The deployed operational men reached Nakpanduri at about 1:00 p.m. from all four directions of Gomsuka village, but the cordoning-off and search exercises by the police could not locate Kombian, the main target. It was suspected that he had had a tip-off and quickly and quietly slipped out of the village. The police, however, rounded up seventeen (17) persons on suspicion of either being accomplices of Kombian in his numerous criminal activities, or being persons who have been harbouring and protecting Kombian, and also giving him tit-bits of information that enable him escape anytime the police are on his heels. The suspects were conveyed to the Regional Police Headquarters, Bolgatanga, for questioning.
According to reports received at the Headquarters, four (4) of the suspects were slightly injured in the course of the arrest; two of them were treated at a clinic at Nakpanduri, whilst the two others were treated at Afrikids Clinic, Bolgatanga. The injured persons were alleged to have resisted arrest, and reportedly got injured as a result of the ensuing confrontation with the police.
Furthermore, the police reports indicate that in the course of the police operations, a shop belonging to one Slim Elija caught fire when the police stormed the shop to search for arms which Kombian had allegedly kept in the shop.
According to police and eyewitness account, the fire could have been caused by an electrical fault. No arms were however found in the shop. In Gomsuka, about seventeen (17) mud houses with thatch roofing were reported to have caught fire, but it is not yet known who might have been responsible for the fire. The police operational men have so far denied any involvement in the act, and have attributed the setting of the fire to the houses to some mischievous persons in the village who would only want to find fault with the police.
Meanwhile, latest information reaching the police indicates that Johnson Kombian has fled to Togo. The Togolese police have been alerted, and provided with copies of his picture, to facilitate his re-capture.
In the meantime, the Northern and Upper East Regional Police commands, who supervised the operations, have conducted a press briefing stating the facts as they know them.