Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Ritual Murder in Elmina

It is definitely an election year in Elmina, Ghana, when we look at some current events, and if we go by historical precedent. The Omanhin jailed (see last post) and a ritual murder in town: signs of political unease if anything.

The details of the murder, as reported in the Daily Guide of today, are gruesome. The motivation for the murder as yet not clear. However, the specifics of the mutilation of the victim point to a ritualistic context.

The killing of Abdul Aziz is not the first ritual killing in an election period in Elmina. The most famous case dates from 1945, when a young girl of ten, named Ama Kakraba was found dead on the beach, with "... her upper and lower lips, both cheeks, both eyes, her private parts and anus, and several elliptical pieces of skin from different parts of her body ... removed." Five people were arrested and accused of the murder, including the Regent of Elmina, Kweku Ewusie. They were tried and found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. They were hanged at James Fort Prison in Acrra on 1 and 2 February 1946. The murder, it was contended was connected to a political court case which was critical to the position of the Regent and his followers. The girl was allegedly murdered to obtain body parts to make 'medicine' to be used in a ritual to assist in the positive outcome of the case.

For those interested in the details of the Ama Kakraba case, there is an article available by American historian Roger Gocking, accessible through JSTOR: A Chieftaincy Dispute and Ritual Murder in Elmina, Ghana, 1945-6 (or go straight to the PDF)

Below the transcript of the Daily Guide article reporting on the 2012 Abdul Aziz killing, or go to the link here: Ritual murder hits central region.

Daily Guide, General News of Tuesday 17 April 2012

Ritual murder hits Central Region

Two weeks after a hunchback was killed at Twifo-Praso where his hunch was allegedly removed for rituals, a 28-year old scrap dealer, Abdul Aziz, at Elmina Zongo in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) Municipality of the Central Region, has been found dead after being missing for four days.

Aziz had his penis, eyes and his tongue removed while he also had a broken jaw. The body of Aziz has since been buried after the performance of the necessary Islamic rites. Briefing Daily Guide on Monday, a concerned citizen who spoke on condition of anonymity said Aziz left the house around 4:30pm on February 21, 2012 and never returned home after he was alleged to have been called by some people at Abakam, a suburb of Cape Coast, to come and purchase some scraps.

The source said the situation compelled some people in the area to form a team to search for Aziz, adding that on February 25, 2012, somebody also going to purchase scraps found Aziz’s wheel parked at Abakam bearing the inscription, “For sale.” The person who was aware that Aziz was missing then asked for the owner of the wheel and one Kweku Ahajalo said it belonged to him and two other people.
The person therefore told Ahajalo that he did not have enough money to purchase the wheel so he was going to collect money from his brother to enable him to purchase it. After some hours, the person brought in the biological brother of Aziz who confronted them and later reported the matter to the KEEA District Police Command where Ahajalo was arrested. The two other accomplices of Ahajalo took to their heels.

The source told Daily Guide that the case was then transferred to the University of Cape Coast (UCC) Police Station since the KEEA police command said the case did not fall under its jurisdiction. Daily Guide gathered that the family of Aziz, anxious of finding him, had information that some unidentified bodies were packed at the Central Regional Hospital morgue where the family went and identified the body of Aziz. Ahajalo has since been remanded by the Cape Coast Circuit Court and he is expected to reappear on April 26, 2012.

Omanhin of Elmina jailed

Chieftaincy in Elmina was never unproblematic. Especially the position of the paramount chief of the Edina State, the Omanhin, has been hotly debated throughout history, with depositions, and long interegnums. The latest development is the incarceration of the incumbent Omanhin, Nana Kodwo Conduah, for contempt of court. The High Court at Cape Coast sentenced him to 3 months imprisonment and a fine of 3,000 cedis today.

The sentence stems from a dispute that goes back to 1998, when Nana Kodwo Conduah was first presented as the successor to the deceased Omahin of Elmina. In 2002, this dispute came to a head, with an injunction, which Nana did not adhere too. Why did it take so long for the original petitioners and the court to act on this? The sentence mentions a gift by telephone company MTN last year. And maybe the oncoming elections play a role as well. Traditionally, the Central Region and in it the constituency of Komenda - Edina - Eguafo - Abrem can play a decisive role when it comes to tipping the balance in a close vote. I have been away from Elmina too long to know all the details of the case as it stands now, however.

Below the transcript of the Daily Guide article reporting on the matter, or go to the link here: Elmina Chief Jailed

Daily Guide, General News Tuesday 17 April 2012

Elmina Chief Jailed

A Cape Coast High Court presided over by Justice James Benuyenah Benson on Monday sentenced the paramount chief of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kodwo Conduah, to three months in prison and a fine of GH¢3,000 for a contempt case against him. A cost of GH¢2,500 was also awarded against him in favour of the petitioners.

Briefing the press after the sentencing Justice Benson said a case of contempt was filed against Nana Conduah in 2002 restraining him from holding himself out as the paramount chief of the area and stop attending public functions in that capacity. He stated that sometime in the year 1998, a petition was filed before the Central Regional House of Chiefs by Supi George Asmah, the father of the former Chief Executive of Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA), George Frank Asmah. He said the petition declared that the purported installation of Nana Conduah was contrary to the customary practices and constitution of the Edina State and should be made null and void.

Justice Benson added that the petition also ordered the destoolment of Nana Conduah. He said subsequent to the filing of the petition, the petitioners applied for and obtained an interim injunction by the high court, restraining Nana Conduah from attending all public functions until his status as the Omanhen had been fully and finally determined by the appropriate forum. The judge disclosed that since 2002 till date, Nana Conduah had committed contempt on five occasions. In 2002, he was even made to sign an undertaking and fined but he failed to pay the fine and also did not sign the undertaking. Mr. Benson noted that Nana Conduah also failed to prosecute and appeal and was compelled by the Court of Appeal to sign the undertaking.

The presiding judge revealed that in 2011, Nana Conduah received a donation from MTN, a telecommunications industry in the country, presenting himself as the paramount chief of the area, towards the Edina Bakatue Festival. The judge expressed worry about the way Nana Conduah was bent on disobeying court orders despite many contempt cases leveled against him.

"He has not shown remorse or a sign of repentance, therefore the court took a serious exception to that and imposed a custodial sentence on him to deter him from disobeying orders of the court."

He said Nana Conduah’s conduct was contumacious and impaired the integrity of the court and legal system of the country, adding that the court could no longer tolerate that. Daily Guide gathered that the family members of the former MCE started distributing white bands in the courtroom immediately the judge pronounced the judgment. Daily Guide also gathered that Nana Conduah started weeping bitterly at the court immediately he was sentenced, a situation which compelled his followers who trooped to the court to also cry. Nana Conduah who was dressed in his traditional cloth, was ushered into the Ghana Prisons van and sent to the Ankaful prisons yard. Information gathered by Daily Guide indicated that the lawyers of Nana Coduah have filed an appeal against the sentence and have also applied for a bail term. The lawyers of Nana Conduah included Michael Atta Dadzie and Ebow Dawson. According to Mr. Dadzie they would do everything possible to ensure the release of Nana Conduah from prison.

A week later, the sentence was reduced to a 8 days in prison (already served), a fine of 3,000 cedis, and 2,500 cedis cost. (Graphic: Nana Conduah's Jail Term Reduced To Eight Days)