STORY: Samuel Duodu in Sunyani & Kwame Asare Boadu in Kumasi
A Protracted chieftaincy dispute at Tuobodom in the Brong Ahafo Region turned rather bloody last Friday night when three persons were shot dead, with four others, including a policeman, critically wounded in a shoot-out.
In the wake of the disturbances, a contingent of 60 policemen and military men was deployed to the town to maintain law and order. Members of the Brong Ahafo Regional Security Council (REGSEC), led by its Chairman, the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, have also arrived at Tuobodom to assess the situation on the ground.
The indiscriminate shooting, involving the two factions in the long-standing dispute, followed the arrest of one of the rival chiefs of Tuobodom, Nana Asare Baffour II, who is said to owe allegiance to the Asantehene, by some youth of Techiman in Wenchi and later handed over to the police.
The rival chief, Barima Obeng Ameyaw I, owes allegiance to the Techimanhene.
The reason for Nana Baffour’s arrest by the Techiman youth was not immediately clear, but he is said to have gone to the Wenchi High Court, where he has a case, and just when he stepped out of the courtroom, the youth pounced on him and handed him over to the police.
According to some residents of the town, the indiscriminate shooting that went on had been between the two factions in the town, one owing allegiance to the Golden Stool while the other owes allegiance to the Techimanhene, as a result of which the town has now been divided into two.
Historically, Tuobodom is one of the Tano-Subin towns of the Brong Ahafo Region, with records at the Manhyia Palace indicating that the town owes allegiance to the Golden Stool of Asante. The other towns are Buoyem, Tanobuasi and Tanoso, all located in the Techiman municipality.
In 1995, the late Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, elevated the stools in the four towns, together with others in the Ashanti Region, to paramountcies, in recognition of their unalloyed allegiance to the Golden Stool.
The elevation of the Tano-Subin stools sparked off a bloodbath, with nine people being killed in Tuobodom and Buoyem.
That was when the then Techimanhene, the late Dotobibi Takyia Ameyaw, then a serving senior military officer, opposed the elevation, claiming that the area belonged to the Techimanhene and not the Asantehene.
The then Tuobodomhene, the late Nana Amo Gyeabour, started attending meetings of the Asanteman Council in Kumasi as a bona fide member of the 62-member council.
Since Nana Gyeabour’s death, his successor, Nana Baffour, whose kidnapping and subsequent hand-over to the police led to the latest deaths, has been a very active member of the council.
An educationist by training, Nana Baffour swore the oath of allegiance to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in December 2007 at a colourful ceremony at the Manhyia Palace, during which the Asantehene charged him to be a true servant of the Golden Stool.
Nana Baffour has been operating with support from a section of the people of the town, while his rival, Barima Ameyaw, who owes allegiance to the Techimanhene, also has his palace at one end of the town.
Interestingly, while Nana Baffour, who owes allegiance to the Asantehene, is a paramount chief, Barima Ameyaw, whose allegiance goes to the Techimanhene, is an ‘Odikro’, a chief with a status lower than a paramount chief.
Both of them have their own sub-chiefs and adjudicate on cases as and when they come before them.
The faction that owes allegiance to the Asantehene belongs to the Gyaase Division of Asanteman, one of the powerful wings of the Ashanti Kingdom.
The Asanteman Council, which has the Asantehene as Life President, comprises the Asantehemaa and all paramount chiefs in the Ashanti Region, as well as others from the Brong Ahafo and Volta regions.
Only one chief from the Volta Region, the Woraworahene, is a member of the Asanteman Council, presided over by the Asantehene.
Even though the Tuobodomhene and the three others from Tano-Subin have been elevated to paramountcies by the Asantehene, the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs has not given recognition to them to enable them to attend meetings of the house, a development Manhyia is not happy about.
Indeed, in 2008, during one of the meetings of the Asanteman Council, Otumfuo Osei Tutu threatened to sue the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs and the National House of Chiefs over the development.
The Asantehene said the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs had constituted a "research committee" which resorted to scrutinising the paramount chiefs from the Brong Ahafo Region who swore the Great Oath (Ntamkesie) to him before considering their admission as members of the house, a situation which he said ran contrary to tradition.