Leaders of a secessionist group in Ghana have been arrested over plans of declaring the independence of the country’s Volta Region as Western Togoland.
The Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), based in Ho in the Volta Region, has been pushing for the secession of the Volta Region from Ghana, claiming that the region was an independent state before being made to join Ghana in a plebiscite.
The Chairman of the HSGF, Charles Kormi Kudzodzi, alias Papavi Hogbedetor and eight others were picked up on Sunday evening by a combined team of armed police and military personnel in Ho and airlifted to Accra.
At the time of their arrest, they were said to be finalizing arrangements to declare Volta Region a state on its own on May 9. The group also had “a constitution, national emblem and anthem prepared” for the supposed independent state, a statement by the police said.
“Activities of the group also include illegally recruiting and training young people in a “militia style” for them to form the core of their supposed country’s armed forces and police force,” the statement added.
According to Graphic Online, members of the group had, on February 29, this year, been arrested in similar fashion while they were going on a health walk. They were later released on bail.
In March 2017, while the group’s agitations dominated the media in Ghana, its leadership was arrested for planning to declare the Volta Region an independent state. The leaders of the group had then made ‘T’ shirts with the inscription, ‘9th May 2017 is our Day-Western Togoland.’
The ‘T’ shirt had a map of Ghana with a portion named ‘State of Western Togoland’ with what appeared to be a flag with colours of green, red, yellow and blue. The flag had a symbol of a handshake, reported the Ghana News Agency.
The leading members, who were arrested, were charged with treason, but were later discharged with a warning. They were ordered by a High Court in Ho to sign a bond of good behaviour and desist from their secessionist activities in July 2017.
However, this seems to have fallen on deaf ears, following Sunday’s meeting, which has resulted in the arrest of leading figures, including the secessionist leader, Kudjordjie, who is over 80 years old.
Kudjordjie’s group has been demanding the secession of the Volta Region and parts of the Northern, North East and Upper East Regions from Ghana to become the Western Togoland state.
Arguing that the Volta Region lacks the needed development, members further “claim that residents of the Western Togoland voted to become a union with the Gold Coast (now Ghana) but the union had not been established up till now and that Ghana opted to be a unitary state under the plebiscite in 1956 [referendum] to be in union with a common constitution with the WesternTogoland and the Gold Coast but there had been no unionized constitution up to date.”
The group maintains that the Western Togoland was not incorporated in the act establishing the Gold Coast by Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, an article by the Graphic Online said.
In 2016, the group intensified its call for a restoration of the pre-independent Western Togoland through a total break away from the current Republic of Ghana.
It claimed that Western Togoland stretches from Kulungugu in the Upper East Region to Keta in the Southern coast.
According to the members of the movement, the Gold Coast voted to be a unitary state on July 12, 1956, while the Western Togoland voted to be in union with Ghana on July 9, 1956, and that the union had not been established till now.
It said the size of Eastern Togoland was 22,000 square miles and the Western Togoland as 12,600 square miles.
The Volta Region, traditionally inhabited by the Ewes, was first demarcated in the 1880s when it became part of Togoland, a German protectorate. After the First World War in which Germany was defeated, the British and French cut Togoland in half. The western side became British Togoland while the eastern side French Togoland. Thus, the Ewes were split.
In 1956, when Ghana was at the height of gaining independence, British Togoland held a vote on whether to join with Ghana or remain separate. The result was 58% in favour of becoming part of Ghana. British Togoland was incorporated into the newly-independent nation and its southern districts became the Volta Region. Four years later, French Togoland became independent Togo.
In recent times, many people, who have condemned the group’s actions, argue that calls for secession would be useless if it is not fully supported and backed by the President of Togo.
“The leaders of the HSG have a far better chance of physically immigrating from Ghana and becoming Togolese by naturalization, than rather dangerously presuming to be legitimately empowered with the inviolable right or birthright to annexing any landed property internationally recognized as part and parcel of the Republic of Ghana to any other country in the West African sub-region. In case the HSG leaders are not already aware of this fact, history is a very fluxional and messy business whose authenticity is invariably more politically determined than anything else,” writes Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. in 2016.
Meanwhile, Kudjordjie, chairman of the group said, in 2016, that his secessionists members had no intention of creating any turmoil in the country and that their agitations would be pursued in a peaceful manner.
”This is the beginning of the united effort of exerting final pressure to extricate ourselves from over 50 years span of un-established union with Ghana which has not yielded any benefits – social, economic and financial security to the common people of the land,” Mr Kudjordjie stated.
“The time is now to execute a common plan of action to come out of serfdom as some wise men and women did before under various autocracies the world over. Our wise men and women are again ready to strategise for the formula for coming out of the serfdom sooner than later. This congress is the launch pad for the missile attack at all fronts for independence. Whether it is here now, today, tomorrow is matter of choice that must not be delayed, but pursued vigorously”, Kudjordjoe said.
As at the time of filing this story, the secessionists had been flown to Accra and is in the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations, Ghana’s internal intelligence agency.
Below is a video of the group’s arrest on Sunday: