President Akufo-Addo addressing a delegation from Kusaug Traditional Council at the Jubilee House
President Akufo-Addo has called for an end to hostilities in the restive Bawku Traditional Area in the Upper East Region.
It follows recent disturbances in the area between two feuding factions, leading to the deaths of some persons including a policewoman.
At a meeting at the Jubilee House on Tuesday, the President appealed to the Bawku Naba, Asigri Abugrago Azorka II, to do all in his power to support the efforts by government to bring lasting peace to the area.
The meeting was at the invitation of the President.
“Bawku Naba, you know that ever since I took the Oath of Office and became President, my major concern has been to enforce the oath that I took; to uphold the constitution and the laws of Ghana. The laws of Ghana include the decisions of the Supreme Court of our country and I know fully well the nature of the decision the Supreme Court took over the Bawku chieftaincy conflict which named you as the Bawku Naba,” the President said.
“Ever since I became President, I have not made any secret of the fact that for me, he is the Bawku Naba,” the President pointed out.
He also said that “I am hoping that the Bawku Naba will also find a way to cooperate with government to bring peace to the area,” adding “the state is spending so much money to maintain the peace of the Bawku area.”
The President said the money instead could be used to bring the much needed development to the Bawku Traditional Area, emphasising that “the money we spend on security in Bawku, those monies could be used to develop the place.”
The President said he invited the Bawku Naba to the Jubilee House so that together they could all work at bringing peace and calm to Bawku.
The recent events in Bawku have caused government through the Ministry of the Interior to impose a curfew in the area.
The imposition of the curfew followed advice from the Upper East Regional Security Council (REGSEC) after the Bawku area experienced threats of insecurity.
In a statement dated January 10, 2022, the Upper East Regional Security Council (REGSEC) as part of security measures in Bawku banned pillion riding involving men in the municipality.
The new directive barred men from carrying their fellow men on the same motorcycle in the conflict zone.
Women were however allowed to carry fellow women only on the same motorcycle.
The REGSEC added that the new directive was given after a critical examination of the security situation in Bawku.
The Security Council recommended increased presence of security agencies in the township, especially in suburbs such as the GOIL and Total filling station areas.
In spite of the measures, there are recorded pockets of violence in the area.
Mahama Ayariga, who is the NDC MP for Bawku Central, the epicentre of the conflict in the traditional area, has insinuated that no government can solve the protracted conflict and that it could only be controlled by enforcing law and order.
“For now, we have relapsed into a very bad situation. In all honesty, even I am very careful when I go in my own constituency. I don’t think it is advisable for someone who is not from there to come around.
“Schools are not able to function, the market had been relocated as people do not feel safe anymore. People with shops are unable to open them. This has worsened the economic situation. Everything has come to a standstill,” he said in a Citi TV interview in Accra yesterday.
According to the Bawku Central MP, the Mamprusis tend to be politically aligned with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) while the Kusasis align to the National Democratic Congress.
“This (dispute) can be traced to their issues with Rawlings. They (Mamprusis) saw Rawlings as their problem, as he took away their rulership [and gave it] to the Kusasis and naturally went against whoever was with him. The Kusasis generally have aligned with Rawlings and the NDC.
“So anytime the NPP is in office, the Mamprusis believe that their concerns need to be addressed because they are on their side. Anytime the NPP win elections, there are people who re-instigate the issue, expecting that it will go in their favour,” the MP explained.
He further explained that suspected Mamprusis decided to re-instigate the issue, believing that the NPP government would side with them.
“They rose up and said they want to perform the funeral rites of the last chief who died before the PNDC overturned their rulership. This was a challenge because when a chief is buried, what happens is another has to be enskinned. The Kusasis protested this. In any case, the person died 41 years ago and was a Muslim, and the burial was done right away.
“They (Mamprusis) insisted that he is entitled to a traditional funeral. The government moved in and sent functionaries to stop the action, and even went ahead to get a court injunction. Somehow, some instigators from North-East fuelled the issue by encouraging the performance of the funeral and put it on social media. They went ahead with the funeral anyway, and this heightened the situation.”
The MP said that it is no longer tenable, that the Mamprusis will rule over the Kusasi area.
“Clearly, even the NPP government will not dream of solving the issue. This issue is not a chieftaincy matter. It is purely an issue of law and order. It is not a matter that can be litigated before any institution. Neither can it be solved by any government.
“It will require that the state will be heavy-handed in its dealings with the security issue in Bawku. No one should be able to go on air and say things that will instigate people to violence and walk home freely. We cannot even allow people to do this on social media and get away with it. The National Security should go after these people, make examples of them so that these people will see how serious our security forces are. The state should have the capacity and sophistication to track anyone found culpable,” he stressed.
He also called for military reinforcements in the area to help bring the situation under control.
“We need more soldiers. The military contingency there is not big enough, and so the boys in the town have developed a mechanism for monitoring them.
“Firing normally takes place around the entire city and not in the centre. That is the formation, and with the size of the military, they are unable to be positioned all around,” he disclosed.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu