Gbese Palace Locked Up Over Homowo Drama

Nii Ayibonte (Tommy Okine)BUREAU of National Investigations (BNI) operatives last Wednesday stormed the Gbese Palace, arrested the Asafo Group and warned Gbese Mantse, Nii Okaidja III, who is occupying the palace with the group, not to set foot there for his own good.

The incident, which took the occupants of the palace by surprise, was reported to have been under the instructions of the National Security Co-ordinator, Lt. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, and a means of maintaining peace in the area.

The BNI officials have currently mounted a 24-hour surveillance at the palace, restraining the chief and his subjects from having access to the place.

However, Nii Okaidja III has threatened to drag the National Security Co-ordinator to court for contempt of court and flouting the orders of the High Court and Appeal Court which ordered him to take possession of the palace as the Gbese Mantse; and also denying him the right as a chief to perform an annual ritual on May 1, 2009 prior to this year’s Homowo festival.

In a telephone interview with DAILY GUIDE, Nii Okaidja III disclosed that he received information via a phone call that some of his members at the palace had been arrested by BNI officials.

The chief said a follow-up to ascertain why they were arrested revealed that the order was from the National Security Co-ordinator.

According to him, he was on his way to the council when he received a call from the Security Secretariat inviting him to the place.

Upon arrival, he said he held a meeting with Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey during which the latter confirmed that he sent the security officials to the palace to maintain peace.

The chief, who noted that there had not been any mayhem in the area and therefore did not understand why the National Security had taken that stand, disclosed that he explained to the co-ordinator that he was occupying the palace legally, pursuant to the orders of the High Court, contained in the judgment which had been affirmed by the Court of Appeal. Therefore, any action that disobeyed the orders would amount to contempt of court.

According to him, Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey did not heed the warnings but went further to state that he had instructed the Sakumo Wulomo to perform the ritual this year.

Nii Okaidja stated that he again explained to the co-ordinator that this was rather going to spark confusion, as the Wulomo had already taken sides with Mr. Tommy Okine, his opponent in connection with the stool.

He further explained that for the past 20 years, there had not been any Wulomo for the Gbese people and for this reason, it was the Chief who sent a Wulomo with the Asafo Group to perform the rituals after which they brought him feedback.

However, according to him, Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey said he was not interested in this fact and that he had already assigned the Wulomo to perform the rituals.

The chief stated that due to this unyielding behaviour, his solicitor, Mr. Albert Adaare, wrote to the co-ordinator to warn him of the consequences of his actions, but all warnings fell on deaf ears and as scheduled, the Sakumo Wulomo performed the rituals.

Earlier on April 30, the police attempted to enforce the decision of the National Security Co-ordinator by sending Nii Okaidja and Tommy Okine with some elders to an Accra Magistrate Court, presided over by Janet Anima Maafo, to seek a court order to restrain both factions from performing any rituals.

However in the absence of Tommy Okine’s faction, the court refused the application but enforced an order made last year by the Ga Traditional Judicial Committee which restrained Mr. Okine and his agents from acting as Gbese Mantse and also performing any function associated with the stool.

According to the judge, the restraining order had since that time not been set aside; therefore she could not restrain Nii Okaidja who had been given the nod to perform the rituals, from doing so.

She however maintained that the police had power to forbid any meeting that will breach the peace in the area by arresting trouble makers should any problem erupt.

Nii Okaidja noted that for Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey to neglect the order from the magistrate court as well as that of the High Court and the Appeal court, and still go ahead with his plans, he had violated the law and therefore must be brought to book so nobody would take the court for granted.

By Mary Anane