A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed on Hohoe and its surrounding communities following the breakdown of law and order, leading to the death of two persons.
Muslim youth and local indigenes of the town slugged it out in the latest ethnic and communal clashes to engulf the country after similar incidents had been recorded in Nakpanduri and Tamale in the Northern region; Tindongo and Namolgo in the Talensi-Nabdam District of the Upper East region; Ekumfi Narkwa in Central region and Ho in the Volta region.
The latest crisis was sparked by the exhumation of the remains of a local Chief Imam, Alhassan Saani.
The Imam’s body was exhumed from the local cemetery allegedly on the instructions of the chief of the area, provoking the Muslim youth to take the law into their own hands, vandalising the chief’s palace and setting other properties on fire.
The Volta Regional Minister, Henry Ford Kamel, confirmed the curfew after a Regional Security Committee (REGSEC) meeting yesterday.
He noted that the directive was given after consultations with the Interior Ministry and added that the Police and Military were currently maintaining peace.
He added that it was the best decision now and that attempts were being made to send high-profile personalities to mediate and ensure an amicable solution to the misunderstanding.
Socio-economic activities at Hohoe came to a standstill yesterday with people staying indoors, as rampaging Muslim youth and indigenes of the Gbi Traditional area engaged in a fierce clash.
More than two people were feared dead while the entire Hohoe Municipality, a bustling commercial area, had turned into a ghost town, with no vehicular and little human movement.
A joint police and military patrol team was currently on the ground maintaining peace.
Fire officers were on hand to clear debris and douse the flames.
They blocked the barrier at Ve-Golokwati, preventing movement in and out of Hohoe.
Other entry points to Hohoe were also reported to have been blocked, with many vehicles and individuals stranded on the outskirts of the town.
According to eyewitnesses, Muslim youth, particularly from the Zongo community, yesterday morning vandalized one of the houses of the Paramount Chief of Gbi, Togbega Gabusu and burnt about two of his vehicles, in protest against the exhumation of their Chief Imam’s body from the town’s cemetery.
It was reported that royal properties such as umbrella, chairs and cloths were set ablaze.
The furious Muslim youth then took to the streets and vandalized property allegedly belonging to indigenes of Gbi.
This action infuriated the youth of the town who mobilized themselves from within the traditional area, as far as Peki, to retaliate.
The Gbi youth also vandalized and torched properties believed to belong to Muslims and members of the Zongo community.
Over 10 shops were burnt while other properties were destroyed.
Osman Salisu, a resident of Hohoe Zongo, noted that one of their youth had been shot dead while many others were reported injured.
The Gbi youth also claimed one of their members was dead while many were injured.
The principal and other streets were blocked and tyres set ablaze to halt traffic and other activities.
Mike Eleblu, a resident, told DAILY GUIDE, “Smoke enveloped the whole area.”
He added that everyone ran for cover and stayed indoors for fear of their lives. “Hohoe is now a war zone!” he exclaimed.
According to reports gathered by DAILY GUIDE, the clashes were triggered by the exhumation of the Chief Imam, Alhassan Saani of the Muslim community in the area.
The Muslim youth accused Togbega Gabusu of ordering the exhumation and therefore attacked his house and destroyed royal properties.
Apparently, Togbega, whose whereabouts was unknown, was reported to have banned the Zongo community from burying their dead on Gbi land including Hohoe.
His directive came after the Zongo community was reported to have manhandled staff of the Hohoe Hospital over the death of a Zongo youth who was electrocuted and sent there.
They accused the nurses of being responsible for the boy’s death.
The Zongo Chief at Hohoe, Alhaji Tajudin Meriga, noted that with the help of some elders and BNI officials, the misunderstanding was resolved.
He said, “I went to see my elders who led me to Togbega Gabusu to go and plead but he refused. But BNI got involved and we were allowed to bury the Imam.”
He was however shocked that on Monday morning the body of Imam Alhassan Saani had been exhumed and dumped on the road.
He added that the body of the electrocuted boy was also exhumed, but it was unclear where that body had been deposited.
One Salisu also told DAILY GUIDE that currently they were all indoors for fear of their lives.
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