The death of nine people at Tema Manhean in the Greater Accra Region within 10 days has aroused apprehension in the community.
On Wednesday, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) dispatched health personnel to the community to investigate the ‘mysterious’ deaths.
A traditional priest, Agbafoitse Nii Abor Kome, had attributed the deaths to a curse on the community and advised residents to undertake spiritual bath in the sea to cleanse themselves.
That has resulted in mass trooping of residents to the sea shore to carry out the advice, amid fears.
Alarmed by the situation, the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) and the Tema Traditional Council, after separate meetings with health personnel, called for calm while investigations were being carried out to establish the cause of deaths.
Nii Armah Somponu II, the Shipi of Tema and Spokesperson of the Tema Traditional Council, in an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday, debunked reports that the council had authorised the spiritual bathing in the sea to prevent further deaths.
According to him, the deaths could be attributed to several factors and, therefore, the council could only appeal to the appropriate agencies to investigate the disturbing development
“It is true that within the past 10 days nine deaths have been recorded in the community. It has, however, emerged that some of the deceased persons had long been battling various forms of illness.
“These deaths could be coincidental, spiritual or natural, and what we can do as a responsible traditional council is appeal to the right agencies to investigate and provide the steps to curb it. It is not for us to jump into conclusions and start extorting money from the people,” the spokesperson added.
He disassociated the traditional council from the claims of the traditional priest, who is said to have given the order for people to conduct spiritual cleansing in the sea for a fee, insisting that the traditional council would never do such a thing.
Although Nii Shipi called for investigations into the deaths, he alleged that reports available to the council suggested that one person was stabbed with a knife, while another was stoned to death.
According to him, two others were said to have experienced swollen feet before their death, while a mother died out of shock after her son had died.
The other deaths, he said, were related to drunkenness.
“The position of the said priest is personal and the council has no hand in it. What we have done is meet with personnel of the Ghana Health Service to deliberate on the issue and come up with the right antidote,” the chief said.
The Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Felix Mensah Nii Anang-La, who also met with the members of the Tema Traditional Council, said the assembly had tasked the Metropolitan Director of Health and the security agencies to investigate the possible causes of death and report back as a matter of urgency to calm the nerves of residents.
The MCE said he was committed to working with all institutions to get to the bottom of the matter and
urged the residents to keep calm while the issue was properly investigated.
Meanwhile, the fetish priest maintained that the directive he issued to the people to take baths in the sea was to protect the community from the effects of a possible curse.
In an interview, Nii Kome said as a priest who had received instructions from the gods, following the series of deaths, residents of the community needed to take precaution against further deaths, hence the instruction for people to go and wash themselves in the sea.
When the Daily Graphic visited the sea shore near the Tema Fishing Harbour, scores of residents where spotted bathing in the sea.
One of the residents, who gave his name as Nii Ashitey, said he had no reason to doubt the directive from the fetish priest, hence his presence at the shore to carry out the order.