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General News Mon, 30 Sep 2002

Violence Erupts Over Chieftaincy Dispute

REPORTS REACHING the Chronicle desk in Takoradi say an unspecified number of people have severely been assaulted and forced out of their homes at Awodua, a town near Tarkwa in the Wassa West district of the Western Region, following a violent chieftaincy dispute that rocked the town on September 18, this year.

The assaulted people who are currently seeking refuse at Tandoh's hotel at Tarkwa are believed to be the supporters and family members of the incumbent chief, Nana Kwabena Angu II, who a faction in the dispute is trying to remove.

Chronicle gathered that violent dispute which led to the hospitalization of one, S. K. Bako at ABA hospital at Tarkwa, has also compelled teachers in the town to withdraw their services, following unwarranted attack on some of their colleagues by one of the factions in the dispute.

A hand written letter signed by Messrs. Francis Otchere and Joseph Quarmson, headmasters of the Methodist Primary and JSS and Catholic Primary School respectively, and copied to all the stakeholders, sstated they have decided to stop teaching because of their conviction that the District Secutity Council cannot handle the situation.

According to the teachers, the headteacher of the Catholic Primary School had his personal belongings destroyed, after which he was severely assaulted and chased out from the town.

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His crime was that he is the "Abusuapanyin" to the chief they are trying to destool. The teachers further alleged in the letter, which was also copied to the District Chief Executive (DCE), that one of their lady colleagues also had her room vandalized when the violence broke out on a suspicion that she is a girl friend to the chief, since her rented room belongs to Nana Kwabena Angu II.

The headmaster of the Methodist Primary and JSS was also not left out. Hefty blows were said to have landed on his cheeks for no apparent reason.

To prevent this situation, we have deemed it necessary to withdraw our services from Awodua schools and, for that matter, the town until calm is restored since the District Security Council is finding it difficult to handle the situation, their letter sighted by the Chronicle stated.

Painstaking investigations conducted by the Chronicle also revealed that on August 3, this year, a similar violent dispute broke out in the town, which is well noted for its gold deposit.

Nana Kojo Toku, the Gyasepanyin to the Awoduah Stool, was alleged to have been taken hostage for six hours during the aforementioned date. He was later freed by a police reinforcement from Tarkwa.

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A faction in the dispute on the same day was also alleged to have given one Justice Assuman, a native of the town, one hour to leave when he went there to attend a funeral, because of his relationship with the chief they are seeking to destool.

When Chronicle contacted Nana Kwabena Angu II, popularly known as Apintohene, he confirmed the story, and said those who have sought refuse at Tandoh's hotel at Tarkwa are there at his own expense.

According to him, each room the 'refugees' are occupying is costing him ?25,000 a day, in addition to their breakfast, lunch and supper.

He regretted the unfortunate situation in the town, which owns part of the Goldfields Ghana Limited concession at Tarkwa. He, however, refused to give further comment, saying he trusts the police to handle the situation.

When the Tarkwa Divisional Commander of Police, Chief Supt. W. B. Baiden, was contacted, he also confirmed the story and said they have been able to bring the situation under control.

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He said initially he had wanted to send men to the town to arrest those who are involved in the violence that led to the vandalisation of property, but someone went to the town to inform them that the police were coming so the perpetrators, who are mostly the youth, fled the town and have still not returned.

According to Commander Baiden, one person has, however, been arrested but has been given police enquiry bail. He said his men are currently patrolling the town to ensure law and order.

It would be recalled that on December 3, last year, the youth of Awoduah attempted to lynch Nana Angu II for allegedly failing to secure jobs for them at Goldfields Ghana Limited (GGL). The chief managed to escape and later sought refuge at Tarkwa.

His personal Landcruiser was, however, burnt into ashes by the angry youth. His clothes, jewelries and cash were also stolen during the attempted "murder." His 'abusuapanyin,' Nana Kwaku Gyebi, also had his room destroyed.

The Western Regional Security Council later sent police and military reinforcement to the town and succeeded in arresting suspects. The case is currently pending before a Sekondi court.

Chronicle learnt that the latest violent clashes in the town which led to attack on the teachers, some of whom are not even natives of the town, has remote connection to this case, as the youth have accused the chief of being behind their arrest and subsequent prosecution at the courts.

It is also based on this that they are also backing a faction in the dispute to destool him. The Western Regional Minister, Hon. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has, on several occasions, expressed his concern about the seemingly unending chieftaincy disputes in the region.

According to him, on assumption of office, he has been spending most of his time attending to chieftaincy matters, which do not bring any development to the region.

Source: Chronicle