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Opinions of Friday, 1 April 2011

Columnist: Agyeman, Alex

Petition For A Commission Of Enquiry Into Disturbances At Akwamufie

The Akwamu Community wishes to call on the government of the NDC and the Inspector General of Police to set a commission of enquiry to investigate the activities of the police in disturbances at Akwamufie over the past two months.
It would be recalled that over 19 years ago Akwamu lost her greatest son who was the chairman of the Presidential Commission of the Republic of Ghana, 1955 during the first republic and the Omanhene of Akwamu Traditional Area, Nana Kwafo Akoto II who was from the Yaa Botwe gate. He also ruled Akwamu for over 55 years
We would like to state that ever since the demise of the late Omanhene in 1992, Akwamu has never known peace. There has been a bitter legal battle as to who should ascend to the throne between the two royal gates which has divided the community into two factions, Yaa Ansaa and Yaa Botwe.
We would like to state that the indigenous Akwamus are the Yaa Ansaa gate who constitutes over 90% of Akwamus and the Yaa Botwe are only 10%. They become one by the fact that they are members from the same Akan Clan that is the Aduana clan.
The Yaa Ansaas installed an Omanhene in the person of Otumfuo Ansah Sasraku after the death of Nana Kwafo Akoto. He was restrained by the queenmother through a court injunction not to perform as a chief. This was contested in court until the death of the chief mentioned above, with case still pending in court. This was the genesis of Akwamu Chieftaincy problems.
GENESIS OF THE CONFLICT
FIRST DISTRURBANCE
It would be recalled that on the day of out-dooring the late Otumfuo as, the Yaa Botwe gate led by the queen mother went to hire assassination gang of forty (40)men to come and kill the chief. Thanks to the vigilance of the people the plot was foiled and most of the assassins were arrested but those behind the crime were never punished. It is a known fact that the present claimant to the stool from the Yaa Botwe faction was the one who escorted the mercenaries to Akwamufie. He is also wanted in connection for the crimes committed during those disturbances if the police should check their records. However, he managed to escape to the United States of America and returned as a criminal seeking sanctuary in Ghana for visa fraud in the US by the US government. The question is what happened to the first investigations done by the Akosombo police?
We further wish to inform you that the NPP government also agreed to resolve the dispute through arbitration. Mr. S.K. Boafo then Minister of chieftaincy affairs offered to resolve the problem but also did nothing. Rather he has turned around to become the counsel for the Yaa Botwe faction after leaving office upon having been given a preliminary briefing by both factions. We believe his conduct is in conflict with the ethics of his profession.
Whiles the case was still pending in court at the Eastern Regional House of chief the Yaa Ansaa faction did nothing to hinder, obstruct, or usurp the powers of the court. Unfortunately Otumfuo Ansah Sasraku in December, 2009 died and never performed or was considered a chief.
SECOND DISTURBANCE
After the death of Otumfuo Ansah Sasraku, the Yaa Ansaa gate had wished to bury him as a chief but the Yaa Botwe gate disagreed because he was never recognised as a chief. So with the help of REGSEC a road map was agreed as follows:
1. That the burial rites would not be performed at the palace since he was not a chief
2. The queen mother should vacate her residence, which belong to the Yaa Ansaa Family for Otumfuo AS to be laid in state.
3. The Keys to the Omanhene Palace should be handed over to the Adontenhene
4. That the Otumfuo should be buried at the Royal Cemetery.
5. That nobody should install a chief until the final determination of the case pending before the court.
6. That government would right off cost incurred at the morgue.
However, the queen mother, Nana Afrakomah refused to vacate her residence because the keys to the palace had not being handed over to the Adontenhene.
Another meeting was convened by the REGSEC and at that meeting, the keys to the palace were changed and distributed among the Police, Adontenhene and the DCE; and that the Queenmother should vacate from her current residence which belong to the Ansaa family this she again refused.
Then on the 11 February, 2011 after the burial of the late unrecognised chief on the 6 February, 2011 without regards to the fact the case was pending in court and the restraining order barring the installation of a Chief, the Yaa Botwe gate went ahead to install a chief in the person of Kwabena Owiredu the son of the twin sister of the Queen mother.
The Yaa Ansaa gate informed the Akosombo District Command about the intentions of the Yaa Botwe to install which they (the Police) condoned disregarding the restraining order from the court.
Before then the Akosombo District Police which had been issued with a restraining order to prevent any faction from installing a chief had drawn up a road map with the help of REGSEC to avert any disturbances. It had been agreed with all parties that the stool room which has three keys should be handed over to the police, the Adontenhene as tradition demand’s and the last kept by the DCE.
What happened thereafter was that the Stool room was opened to the Yaa Botwe faction and Kwabena Oweridu was installed as a chief with the connivance of the Akosombo District Police Commander ASP Kantona Issah Mohammed in clear violation of the restraining order.
The Police tried to cover-up this complicities by arresting two innocent young men and then went ahead to trump up charges against these gentlemen, instead of arresting one Ex-W.O 1 Oware Akoto who was spotted on that day carrying the blackstool in the full glare of the public.
This level of injustice, impunity, deceit, liars, bias, incompetency, treachery and criminality was exhibited by the Akosombo District Police Commander to favour the Yaa Botwe gate leading to the fraudulent installation of Kwabena Owiredu.
THIRD DISTURBANCE
On Friday 25 March, 2011 a section of the community, sympathetic to the Yaa Ansaa gate notified the police of having a peaceful procession after serving a week notice to the Akosombo District Command.
The community did indicate to embark on a peaceful demonstration to present a petition to the regional house of chiefs, national house of chief and the government through the Akwamu Traditional Council. This they did on that faithful day which ended peacefully at 12:00 noon. It was covered by the press. Just when the pressmen had left a contingent of Police led by ASP Issah Kantona Mohammed drove into the town at about 1:00p.m.
A contingent of Policemen wielding guns, came firing live bullets at these unarmed people in the community who were dancing to some musical tunes being provided by a brass band at the community durbar grounds after the demonstration. In the eschewing melee a bullet hit the police driver who later lost his life at the Akosombo Hospital.
The Police left and later returned with reinforcement to arrest those they suspected had caused the death of their colleague. They came running amok, rampaging, vandalising private properties, the palaces of some of our chiefs and brutalised suspected members of the public who were alleged to have blocked the road at the out skirt of the town where the bullet hit the Policeman. The police then placed the community under siege for over 24 hours, preventing even the sick from accessing medicare until the evening of the 26 March, 2011.
Information from the grapevine indicates that the District Commander of Police had agreed to assist the Yaa Botwe gate on the faithfully day to have a second round of coronation of the would be Omanhene since the 25 March was the last day meant for proper customary rites to be done else he the Chief would remain as a taboo or a curse to the Akwamu State.
It is a known fact that members of the Yaa Botwe gate were going round with the police pointing people who are not sympathetic to them for the police to arrest. This we thought would further polarise the community, and should engage the attention of the Police high Command.
Akwamu have not had a police station for well over two centuries because we live at peace with each other, not even when a brother or a faction has provoked the other. No life has ever been lost in the conflict because most members of the community are related through inter marriages.
The Role of ASP Issah Kantona Mohammed
It is a fact that ASP Issah Kantona Mohammed is married to a member of the Yaa Botwe Family who is related to the Queen mother and that he has compromise his office and broken his oath of service to the state by using his office to brutalised innocent members of the public who has an axe to grind with the Yaa Botwe gate.
He has also refused to arrest Kwabena Oweridu who is wanted by the Ghana Police Service for crimes committed in the first rioting during the installation of the late Otumfo Ansah Sasraku.
It is also allege that on the 24 March, 2011 he took an amount of GH¢1,000 from the Queen mother to influence his colleagues for the operations.
On the 28 March when the suspects were put before the Senchi Migistrate Court he was overhead telling some of his collegues that he would not obey any orders to go on transfer.
Interestingly, ever since these chieftaincy problems started strangers’ e.g. the hired tugs and the policeman, have always bored the casualties of this dispute, which was rather unfortunate.
We would like to ask the Police High Command to quiz ASP Issah Kantona Mohammed what happened to the pregnant woman who was stabbed with a knife why she was denied medical forms to attend hospital and whether the criminals involved were ever arrested.
We also want to know what stopped ASP Issah Kantona Mohammed from obtaining a court restraining order in the second instance, since that was what he was purported to have done in the first instance to exhibit his professional competence.
Was it not that he was the suspect condoning with the Queenmother to exterminate sympathisers of the Yaa Ansaa family.
We also aware that some members of the DISEC have some information that during the cause of the week they were informed of the plans of the Queen mother to put down someone in Akwamufie.
The Role of the Policemen leading to the putting down of Constable Appiah.
It is disturbing whenever a policeman is reported to have been put down in the cause of duty.
An analysis of the actions of the police in the community indicates that, whoever led them had a premeditated motive to maim, murder and destroy property.
We have the cause to suspect that the hired assassin was ASP Issah Kantona Mohammed and that he should probably be held liable for putting down his subordinate.
Conclusion
We therefore regret the death of Constable Prince Appiah. Our condolences go to the bereaved family, the entire Police Administration and the Inspector General of Police.
It is our hope that the Police command would begin to dialogue with the stakeholders to restore the confidence, trust and mutual respect lost by the community in the Police to forestall the future occurrence of unwitting death and rampage under a new District Police Commander, whilst waiting for the final determination of the dispute by the Regional House of Chief.
We are therefore calling on the government and the police administration to commission an independent committee of enquiry to look into the actual causes of the disturbances that lead to the installation of Kwabena Owiredu and the putting down of Constable Prince Appiah.

ALEX AGYEMANG
Tel: 0285443836