Hired thugs, allegedly contracted by a rival chief, last night unleashed terror on the people of Lower Dixcove in the Western Region, destroyed properties and kidnapped the Omanhene, Nana Kwesi Agyeman IX, allegedly over a boundary dispute.
The Western Regional Police Command, which was called in to restore order, has placed both the Lower and the Upper Dixcove areas under heavy security surveillance, while declaring the Paramount Chief of Upper Dixcove, Obrempong Himan Dekyi, wanted for questioning.
When contacted, Obrempong Dekyi denied any involvement in hiring thugs to attack another paramount area.
He said he would oblige a police invitation for questioning and that he was not a fugitive.
Narrating the incident to the Daily Graphic, the Ahanta West District Police Commander, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Valentine Akposu, said preliminary police investigations indicated that the thugs, who were suspected to have been contracted from Kwesimintsim in the Effia-Kwesimintsim municipality, were allegedly led by Obrempong Dekyi himself to carry out the attack.
He said some of the community members told the police that the thugs had arrived just before midnight, wielding machetes, guns, bread knives and explosives.
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They forcibly broke the metal gate to the Omanhene’s house, located almost at the centre of the town, took Nana Agyeman hostage and assaulted him, while others destroyed the palace and other properties in the vicinity.
He said other citizens who were caught up in the frenzy were also subjected to some beatings and had sustained some injuries.
DSP Mr Akposu said aside from the Omanhene, four other people were abducted.
He said some members of Nana Agyeman’s family told the police that the thugs had tied the legs and hands of the chief, dragged him on the floor into a waiting vehicle, drove him and the others to Upper Dixcove and locked them up in a room at Obrempong Dekyi’s palace.
On arrival at Obrempong Dekyi’s palace, the thugs held a knife to Nana Agyeman’s throat and threatened to kill him.
DSP Akposu said when the police arrived at the scene, the thugs had absconded with their captives and the residents could not tell where they had taken them to.
“We proceeded to the palace of Obrempong Dekyi at that time of the night and, interestingly, there was no single person in the palace and the adjoining houses.
“Our search revealed that the Omanhene of Lower Dixcove and four others were locked up in one of the rooms,” he said.
Recounting their ordeal, one of Nana Agyeman’s family members who did not want to be named told the Daily Graphic on his hospital bed that the thugs had used a machete to slash his back and other parts of his body.
“But for the timely intervention of the police, they would have killed Nana and four others. Nana was almost naked and the police had to get him some clothes to wear before transporting them to hospital,” he said.
Nana Agyeman, one-time President and Vice-President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs, sustained deep cuts and lacerations all over his body.
Some chiefs and elders of the community were at the hospital in Sekondi to commiserate with Nana Agyeman and the other four.
The police said the thugs also damaged the power transformer which served the community, resulting in total blackout, to enable them to operate under the cover of darkness.
After the abduction of the chief, DSP Akposu said, the thugs proceeded to the beach where dozens of canoes, drums of premix fuel and heaps of fishing nets mended by fishermen in readiness for their next fishing expedition were set ablaze.
Shops along the streets leading to Nana Agyeman’s palace and a fort were all forcibly opened and some merchandise in stock destroyed. Vehicles parked by the roadside were not spared.
When the Daily Graphic visited Dixcove yesterday morning, all fishing and economic activities had come to a standstill, schoolchildren were not able to attend school, with those who had lost items counting their losses.
The team observed that electricity cables were on the ground and power supply to the entire town was off.
The residents looked frustrated, as nobody knew where to obtain answers from.
The Western Regional Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Olivia Ewuraabena Adiku, said the police had commenced investigations into the matter and urged for calm in the two communities.
When the Daily Graphic reached Obrempong Dekyi after more than 10 phone calls and two text messages, he vehemently denied any involvement in hiring thugs to attack another paramount area.
“I have never been part of this unfortunate incident that happened at Lower Dixcove. I have never hired any thugs and I’m not even aware of who hired or contracted them to carry out such a despicable act,” he stressed.
He described attempts to link him to the incident as unfortunate, adding: “I am a law-abiding citizen; the police know me. I have spoken to the regional commander and they know me very well. The commands have my number; they know my office and residence. How can they then declare me wanted and claim they have been looking for me?”
“I join hands with other well-meaning Ghanaians to condemn such an act. It is so unfortunate and I sympathise with Nana Agyeman,” he added.
The Daily Graphic gathered that the dispute was over a community known as Turom, which is said to be part of Lower Dixcove until the demise of its chief.
The impasse is currently receiving the attention of the Western Regional House of Chiefs and the law courts.