Bloody Riot In Ejisu
ANGRY DEMONSTRATORS, armed with stones, stormed the Ejisu Paramount Chief, Oguakuro Afranie Okesse's palace, a weird action which forced armed policemen to fire tear gas which sent the demonstrators running helter-skelter Friday morning.
What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration against the Ejisuhene's decision to expand the Ejisu market with the construction of a three-storey building containing stores, nearly turned bloody, as the demonstrators changed the approved route for their march at the eleventh hour.
The demonstrators, wearing red armbands and chanting war songs, at the tail end of their march, purportedly raced towards Oguakuro Afranie Okesse IV's palace, pelting it with stones in a scary fashion.
It took the timely intervention of the Ejisu District Police Commander, Chief Supt Laar Baman and his men, who were armed to the teeth, to prevent the charged people from entering the palace to vandalise it.
The police quickly barricaded all access routes to the palace with vehicles but this did not deter the angry demonstrators, as they then resorted to the throwing of stones and other items at the security agents, who also responded by firing tear gas at them.
The firing of the tear gas contributed to dispersing the charged crowd while the police apprehended about five people, including two women, who were believed to have masterminded the throwing of stones at the policemen and the chief's palace.
Oguakuro Afranie Okesse IV told DAILY GUIDE that he was sad that his decision to expand the Ejisu market to help protect the traders who usually trade in the streets, endangering their lives in the process, had been met with resistance from the same people who would benefit from the project.
He said he had, over the years, received a series of complaints from several people who had expressed grave concern about people who traded on the Ejisu road, which forms part of the main Kumasi-Accra highway.
The Ejisu Paramount Chief said as a development-oriented traditional leader who has the concerns and wellbeing of his people at heart, he decided to use his own resources to put up a three-storey building along the main Ejisu road, which is not part of the existing market, to accommodate the traders.
To his dismay, he said, instead of his people, notably the traders, commending him for his proactive nature, they rather demonstrated against him 'because I have started a project to house the traders and prevent them from being knocked down by vehicles.'
Oguakuro Afranie Okesse IV said the weird action of the demonstrators would not deter him from developing his area, stressing that he always takes inspiration from his Overlord, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, who is development-oriented.
The Ejisu Paramount Chief recounted with pain, how his people had virtually kicked against all the development projects he had brought to the area to improve the lives of the people since he ascended the Ejisu throne six years ago.
Oguakuro Afranie Okesse IV said a hospital project, police complex and a road project, which he embarked on at Ejisu Zongo, were all met with resistance 'but these same people turned around to praise me after the projects had been completed and they were benefiting from them.'
Kwaku Frimpong, organiser of the demonstration, explained that they decided to hit the streets because the chief's decision to construct the three-storey building at the roadside would deprive the people who trade there of their source of livelihood.
According to him, the Ejisu Paramount Chief had connived with the MCE of the area, Afrifa Yamoah Ponkoh, and taken the land away from the traders, threatening to take legal action to prevent the Ejisuhene from embarking on any expansion works at the market.
On his part, Afrifa Yamoah Ponkoh said he suspected that the demonstrators decided to hit the streets because they were being pushed by a particular political grouping, saying that their action was not necessary so it should be condemned by people who have Ejisu's development at heart.
Some of the troublemakers arrested by the police
The Ejisu District Police Commander, Chief Supt Laar Baman, said after granting the demonstrators permit, the police on Thursday evening learnt that the demonstrators were planning to change the approved routes by invading the chief's palace to cause mayhem there.
He noted that all attempts by the police to call the leadership of the demonstration to order proved futile, so on Friday morning the police stationed men at vantage points, including the chief's palace, to prevent the demonstrators from carrying out their fiendish plan.
As at the time of filing this report, calm had returned to Ejisu.
FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Ejisu, Ashanti