About 400 natives of Nwoase in the Wenchi Municipality of the Brong-Ahafo Region, have been banished from the town by some elders in the area for the past one year, for refusing to recognise a new fetish priest in the area.
The victims, mostly farmers and currently lodging with relatives in Techiman, Berekum, Awisa and Wenchi, refused to recognise the authority of the self-imposed fetish priest, Nana Kofi Afena, who took over from the late Nana Kofi Drobo about a year and half ago.
They are, therefore, appealing to the Regional Security Council and the Ministry of the Interior to intervene to bring them back to the town.
Speaking to The Ghanaian Times on the issue, a spokesperson for the aggrieved persons, Charles Asante, a farmer, indicated that they could not accept the new fetish priest because per the tradition of the town, it should take three years for a new fetish priest to be nominated by the gods.
According to him, Nana Kofi Afena elected himself to become the new fetish priest of the town and those who did not support him were attacked and beaten by some elders from his camp and then banished from the town.
Mr. Asante explained that the case which started in January last year, was reported to the Wenchi Police, leading to the arrest of the perpetrators, but they were granted bail by the Wenchi magistrate’s court.
Since then, the case had not been called again, making it difficult for them to return to their hometown to engage in their farming business.
The Krontihemaa of Nwoase, Nana Ama Agyapongmaa, also a victim, told The Ghanaian Times that she depended on her three-acre cashew farm in the area, but now she was prohibited from entering the community.
She, therefore, appealed to the government to help them return to the Nwoase community.
A source at the Regional Police Command told The Ghanaian Times that the Regional Crime Office had commenced investigations into the matter.
According to the source, interested parties were called to a meeting at the Regional Police Headquarters yesterday to find a lasting resolution of the matter.
Meanwhile, a private legal practitioner, Mr. Yaw Oppong, has advised the natives to use the local amicable remedy to resolve the issue.
He said the fetish priests and chiefs did not have the jurisdiction under the laws of the land to banish any person or groups of persons for dissenting on traditional matters, citing Article 15 of the Constitution to buttress his argument.
He said even if they had committed a criminal offence, it was only the police and accredited security agencies that had the right to effect their arrest.
Asked whether the intervention of the police was appropriate, he said opinion leaders, including queen mothers, priests and even the Member of Parliament, could help resolve the matter.
However, he said the police could go on with their investigations if a criminal offence had been committed and bring the perpetrators to book.
From Daniel Dzirasah, Nwoase