The rate at which traditional leaders in Ghana are being attacked, and often murdered in cold blood, supposedly BY UNKNOWN ASSAILANTS, is getting too worrying.
It is worrying, not only because their presence forms the core of our national political fabric, but largely because their absence from national administration could derail the smooth functioning of any government.
In fact, it was as a result of the indispensability of chiefs that the British colonialists were compelled to introduce Indirect Rule as a way of successfully taking over the Gold Coast.
Unfortunately, recent trends strongly suggest that our chiefs are fast losing the recognition they used to command, to the extent that they are becoming easy targets in any conflict situation.
Ordinarily, one would have thought that, with the unfortunate murder of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, King of Dagbon and some 40 of his subjects in March, 2002, the state would have done something more pragmatic to protect our traditional leaders. But that is not the case.
Last week’s murder in cold blood of the Mankralo and Acting President of the Prampram Traditional Area, Nene Atsure Benta III, by some unknown assailants at Apollonia, in the Kpone-Katamanso Municipality of Greater Accra, has become an incident that can best be described as one time too many.
He was reportedly shot in his car while returning from a meeting at the Regional House of Chiefs in Dodowa in the Shai-Osudoku District.
Many residents see it as a replication of another incident two years earlier, during which the Chief of Sota in the Shai Osudoku District, Nene Teiko Kpetutu, his son, and two family members were shot and killed, also by unknown assailants at Mango Tsonya, near Dodowa.
One can also recall how on 11, 2015, the chief of Atwima Koforidua in the Ashanti Region, Nana Edusa Gyapong II, was shot and killed by unknown assailants. According to reports, he was changing a punctured tyre on his car when the gunmen, without any provocation, opened fire on him.
Earlier on, in February, 2018, the Gyaasehene of Seikwa Traditional Area in the Tain District of the Brong-Ahafo Region, Nana Kwadwo Taano Naansi, was reportedly shot dead, once again by unknown assailantswhilst he was watching a television programme in his living room.
Then on September, 22, Saha Naa Haruna, chief of Chensugu, a village near Kumbungu, was shot dead during the celebration of the Fire (Bugum) Festival, reportedly from an ‘accidental discharge’ from an AK47.
One can also talk of the recent burning to ashes of the corpse of Nene Mensah Zotorvi V, chief of Terhe, near Ada over his burial site.
The list is endless, but our worry has more to do with the seeming absence of a mechanism to give minimal protection to chiefs in the country.
THE PUBLISHER thinks it is about time some form of physical protection is given to chiefs, just as is done to politicians and judges.
We must emphasize the fact that, contrary to speculations in sections of the media that the chieftaincy institution should be scrapped because it had outlived its usefulness, evidence abound that the role of the institution cannot be underestimated.
These are people whose main functions, even before the advent of colonialism, included dispute settlement, codification of customary law, arrangement of ceremonies and festivals, and promotion of socio-economic development, among others.
Without them, the local governance structure of our political hierarchy could crumble.
We hereby call on the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, and for that matter government, to do all it can to make our chiefs safer.