Tafo is a town in the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly of the Ashanti Region. It is said to be the 30th most populous settlement in the country with a population of 60,919.
The town is also one of Kumasi’s economic focal points, which generates a significant portion of the city’s revenue for the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA). Some commercial and financial businesses are carried out in the town.
But these are being threatened by violence and vandalism following a bloody clashes between the indigenes and some Muslim youth at the area over the construction of a wall around a piece of land at the town’s graveyard.
The cemetery land is a source of dispute between the chief of Tafo and the Muslims who had laid claim of the land, alleging that it was bequeathed to them by the Tafo Traditional Council some 40 years ago, before the enstoolment of the current chief.
The town is currently inundated with police and military personnel who are on high alert for any criminal activity and possible eruption of violence after the youth in the area took the city by storm and ran amok, destroying landed properties, vehicles, businesses and personal effects of some residents. Church buildings and mosques were not spared in the melee.
The clashes that started Wednesday around mid-day claimed lives and resulted in some people being injured, with many people still living in fear and panic. The place is under dusk to dawn curfew with over 45 people arrested in connection with the fracas.
Tens of people were seen running helter-skelter, including market women who deserted their stalls and shops to run for their lives, as the rampaging youth went berserk, smashing windscreens of vehicles, glasses of offices, churches and a mosque.
The mobster blocked the main Kumasi-Mampong road as they terrorized residents, commuters and motorists, in an apparent show of fury.
It was a reminiscence of the 2013 grisly experience of gangsterism and gun-related violence in Kumasi that became so commonplace to the extent that the term ‘gang homicide’ was virtually recognized as a category of criminal behaviour.
The mobsters at both ends, when they hit the streets, apparently had only one goal in mind – to perpetrate violence in the neighbourhood in order to prove to the opponents that they are a force to reckon with.
Tafo, Dead Town
It appears the riot has taken life away from the town as schools and shops remain closed and commercial activities abandoned, despite the presence of the security officers patrolling the area in their numbers.
Some of the streets where major shops and businesses are located, were virtually empty yesterday as shop owners were not convinced yet that the upheaval had come to an end.
Forty-five people – mostly youngsters – have been arrested by the police in connection with the riot. The suspects are said to have played leading roles in the riotous acts.
ASP Yusif Mohammed Tanko, Public Relations Officer of the Ashanti Regional Police Command, told DAILY GUIDE the arrestees would be made to face the full rigorous of the law after police investigations had been completed.
By the time of filing this report around 2pm yesterday, no major incidents had been recorded as security had been beefed up to be on the lookout for troublemakers. Snippets of information indicated that the police had picked intelligence that some Muslim youth in nearby towns were mobilizing to launch another reprisal attack.
ASP Tanko warned the Muslim youth to rescind their supposed decision and back off from Tafo or they would be brutally handled by the security personnel.
The police spokesman said the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on Tafo had been extended to maintain peace and order and forestall any breach of the law by unscrupulous people, asserting that it would be lifted as and when the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) deemed fit.
Army Chief Storms Tafo
On Thursday, the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Kwame Opoku Adusei, together with the Director General of Operations of the Ghana Police Service, COP Christian Tetteh Yahuno, paid a working visit to Tafo to access the security situation following the violent clashes.
They were accompanied by members of the REGSEC, including DCOP Kofi Boakye, Ashanti Regional Police Commander, and the out-going Regional Minister, Peter Anarfi Mensah.
The mayhem has largely been blamed on the assault on the Tafo chief by the Muslim youth.
The Army Commander was said to have ordered the arrest of the Chief Imam of Tafo, for allegedly instigating the clash between the Muslim youth and the indigenes of the area.
The order was reportedly issued when the team was met by an angry mob wielding machetes. The mob allegedly retreated and changed their route when they sighted the security agents.
Gangsterism has become a regular feature in Kumasi with criminals taking the law into their own hands with impunity. Violent attacks which produce fear and panic have received a great deal of media attention in recent times.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi