The chieftaincy crisis that has bedeviled the Akuapem Traditional Area for two years deepened when armed National Security operatives and policemen stormed Akropong to take over the Okuapehene’s Palace.
The move, according to the Eastern Regional Security Council (REGSEC), was to avert an imminent clash between the two factions vying for the paramountcy which became vacant following the death of Oseadeyo Addo Dankwa III.
At the time of filing this report, the palace was under lock and key, while there was heavy security presence.
Eyewitnesses told the Daily Graphic that about 50 National Security operatives stormed the palace at 4:30 a.m. yesterday, arrested some of the palace attendants and ransacked the place.
The operatives, they said, also arrested some prominent chiefs of the traditional area.
According to the eyewitnesses, the operatives said they had been instructed to enter the palace and search for guns.
When the Daily Graphic got to Akropong about 2 p.m. yesterday, the palace had been locked, while six heavily built security men had taken strategic positions to guard it.
Inside the palace was a scene of broken doors and windows, ransacked rooms and floors littered with chieftaincy paraphernalia.
Even the Okuapehene’s bedroom was not spared, with the place ransacked and totally turned upside down.
Many people gathered outside the palace, desperately trying to know what was happening on the premises of the Overlord of Akuapem.
The incident attracted many chiefs from the various towns in the traditional area.
About 5:30 p.m., the chiefs, led by the Aburihene and Adontenhene of Akuapem, Otobuor Djan Kwasi II, visited the palace to ascertain the situation.
Other chiefs were Odeefour Oteng Korankye II, the Berekusuhene; Osabarima Ansah Sasraku II, the Mamfehene; Nana Sakyi Amoako, the Adawsohene; Okatakyie Kusi Oboadum Amoyaw V, the Aseseesohene; Osabarima Opese Konadu II, the Awukuguahene, and Osabarima Asiedu Okoo Ababio III, the Lartehene.
Initially, the National Security operatives were not prepared to allow the chiefs to enter the palace, stating that they had orders not to allow anybody into the place.
But the chiefs stood their grounds and demanded to enter the palace. People also gathered around the scene in support of the chiefs.
After about five minutes of the standoff, the chiefs were finally allowed to enter the palace.
Speaking to the media after the inspection of the palace, Otobuor Djan Kwasi described the action by the National Security as an affront to the people of Akuapem.
“This palace belongs to the Okuapehene and other royals. We do not understand why National Security operatives will take over the palace. Even the registrar of the traditional council was not allowed to enter the palace to work,’’ he said.
Otobuor Djan Kwesi issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the government to withdraw the National Security operatives.
“By the close of today, we want President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to withdraw all the National Security operatives,’’ he said.
The invasion of the palace comes barely a month after the Akuapem Traditional Council inaugurated a seven-member committee made up of chiefs from Akuapem and headed by Otobuor Djan Kwasi to resolve the chieftaincy impasse.
Since the death of Oseadeyo Addo Dankwa III in 2015, the process to select a new Okuapehene has been fraught with dispute.
The Sakyiabea House, the gate in the Asona Royal Family with the current mandate to select a new Okuapehene, has split into two, with either faction having its own preferred candidate.
Currently, Odehye Kwasi Akuffo, a 63-year-old retired journalist, and Odehye Kwadwo Kesse, a young man believed to be in his mid-30s, are being processed simultaneously to be installed as the Okuapehene.
Odehye Akuffo is said to be backed by the Okuapehemaa, Nana Afua Nketia Obuo II, and other kingmakers, while Odehye Kesse is believed to have the backing of the Baamuhene of Akropong, Nana Afari Bampoe, and the rest of the kingmakers.