The Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, has given operators of shrines and ritual activities alien to the area a two-week ultimatum to cease all such activities.
According to a press release issued by Dan Ofori–Atta, the Akyem Abuakwa State Secretary, the move has been necessitated by the recent increase in shrines and ritual murders in the Eastern Region.
“The Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin has found it extremely necessary to take action with respect to the provocative spectre of the establishment of alien shrines by Fetish Priests with no clear social ties and identity mainly from the neighbouring countries, directly linked with the violation of Akyem Abuakwa customary observances, ritual murders, fake currency racketeering and other violent criminal activities. It has been observed that over the past decade there has been an unperfected influx of immigrant ritualists disguised as traditional priests who have abused the hospitality of Okyeman and engaged in activities that threaten the lives of residents, social order and the health of the national economy.”
According to the press release, even though it is permitted for non-subjects of the Ofori Panin Stool to acquire land and property, “it is strictly forbidden for migrant traditional rulers and traditional priests to invoke alien rituals and purport to exercise customary authority, which is the sole prerogative of Nananom of Akyem Abuakwa. For the sake of clarity, alienation of land does not confer jurisdictional authority on the alienee and further the performance of unregulated ritual activities.”
Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin has consequently requested the Ghana Police Service and other security agencies to institute formal measures to intensify and broaden investigations into ritual murders and other criminal activities in the Akyem Abuakwa State.
“By this notice, Osagyefuo request the Ghana Police and other Security agencies to institute formal measures to intensify and broaden investigations to ritual murders and other criminal activities mentioned earlier. In relation to the above, background checks must be made on all migrant fetish priest and their assigns. Retrieval of all ammunitions to ensure the safety of lawful citizens.”
The statement also directed that “all alien shrines be closed down within two weeks from the date of this public statement [May 15 2020], an immediate end to all customary rituals alien to Akyem Abuakwa custom.”
The Okyenhene ordered all chiefs in Akyem Abuakwa not to lease lands to immigrant traditional priests and their associates and that any “chief irrespective of rank who under whatever circumstance lease lands for the purpose of erection of shrines will face immediate destoolment and other related sanctions.”
“The Osagyefuo wishes to take this opportunity to congratulate the Police and other security forces for their handling of the Adeisu incident and further call for their cooperation to erase this rather ugly spectacle from the face of Okyeman and other parts of the country,” the statement added.
On 21 April 2020, the Ghana Police Service arrested fetish priests, Christian Gameli Lawerh, alias Power, 36; and Famous Adorkunu, alias Scorpion, 37, both of whom are from the Volta region but reside at Maame Dede near Adeisu, for the murder of two persons.
On April 29, Following investigations by the police, the suspects admitted having interacted with Mr Edward Quartey Papafio, a 64-year-old biochemist who they shot and killed on 15 January 2020, at their shrine.
The suspects reiterated that the deceased was buried at a particular spot within the shrine and led police to the scene.
The area was secured for an exhumation order to be granted by the court.
The other deceased person was also identified as Kwesi Zomelo, a resident of Kasoa in the Central region.
After a search was conducted at their residences, police retrieved two pump action guns, a single-barrelled gun together with eleven packets of cartridges from Lawerh’s room.