19th November, 2018
Concerns of the Andani Royal Family Following the Decision of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs oGBn the Dagbon Chieftaincy Crisis
The Andani Royal Family has received with grief and dismay a briefing on the outcome of the mediation efforts of the Otumfuo Committee of Eminent Chiefs on the Dagbon crisis, emanating from the brutal murder of the King of Dagbon, Yaa-Naa Andani Yakubu II in 2002.
The briefing indicated, among others, that, a summary of the Committee's report was presented to the two delegations present, but no copy was made available to them. Participants were formally and strictly debarred from making any comments at the sitting. There were, however, clear indications that, one party had prior knowledge of the Committee's findings.
When the two parties were requested, for example, to provide the names of leading family members responsible for the funerals of Yaa-Naa Andani Yakubu II and Naa Mahamadu, a participant representing the ABUDU family immediately pulled out of his pocket, a paper containing the names of the persons the Abudu family have chosen while the ANDANIs had to consult to produce one.
Having rejected requests by representatives of the Andani family to express themselves at the formal session, the Otumfuo decided he would receive some of them in private, after the formal sitting. This was done and they made known in clear terms to His Majesty the Otumfuo that they strongly disagreed with the statement read to them. Of course, the expressed disagreement is not in the public domain, as intended by His Majesty.
The Andani Royal family expresses its readiness to perform the funeral of their late father as soon as the conditions are ripe, but not under those dictated by the Committee of Eminent Chiefs.
After hearing the briefing by its representatives on Monday, 19th November, 2018, at the Gbewaa Palace, in Yendi, in the presence of His Royal Highness the Kampakuya-Naa, the participating leading members of the Andani Royal family fully endorsed the objections of its representatives made to His Majesty the Otumfuo, on the following grounds:
a. The insistence of the Otumfuo Committee to perform the funeral of Naa Mahamadu Abudulai at the Gbewaa Palace is unprecedented and offensive to Dagbon custom and the law.
It is recalled that, the ruling of the Supreme Court of Ghana on the Yendi Skin Affairs, dated 17th December, 1986 ((pages 239 to 281 of Ghana Law Reports 1984-86, Vol. 2)) concludes by allowing Naa Yakubu's appeal, setting aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal and stating clearly that, the "Findings of the Ollenu Committee restored" (p. 281 of GLR cited supra). On page 255 of the ruling, paragraph 3, the Supreme Court declared, "We would accordingly allow the appeal and set aside the judgment and orders of the Court of Appeal. ... we would restore the findings of the Ollenu Committee as was accepted by the White Paper WP 2/74 on the report of the said committee into the Yendi Skin Affairs". Now, as indicated by the Supreme Court on pages 244-245 of the GLR, the findings of the Ollenu Committee, as accepted by the Government White Paper, included the following words: "v. the committee found that, the purported nomination, selection and enskinment of Mahamadu Abdulai were null and void;"....
"vii. government accepted the findings that the so-called enskinment of Mahamadu Abudulai is null and void as the correct customary procedures for nomination, selection and enskinment of a Ya-Na were not followed;" (p. 245 of cited GLR).
From the foregoing, we strongly believe that, under the law, Mahamadu Abdulai has never validly "occupied the Nam of Yendi", a condition indicated by the Supreme Court in its Order (3) to qualify for the title of "former Yaa-Naa", graciously accorded him by Government and the Committee of Eminent Chiefs (p. 255 of cited GLR).
Under Dagbon custom, a "former Yaa-Naa" or a holder of traditional office who loses his position, is not entitled to any benefits of his former office. He is not entitled to the rites due sitting holders of the lost office, and less so a funeral in the palace. This same principle applies in the Otumfuo's own traditional area and those of the other Eminent Chiefs.
While we are prepared, therefore, for compromises in the interest of peace, we reject any attempt to bastardize our custom in the manner the Otumfuo Committee is trying to impose on us.
We note further that, Dagbon custom grants no special rights to former office holders besides those enjoyed by all other free citizens. The Supreme Court too granted no special rights to them. The only related right is granted to sons of former Yaa-Naas and not directly to themselves. This does not deny anyone a right to a dignified funeral.
b. The funeral of a sitting Yaa-Naa necessarily ends with the appointment of a new one, and therefore Naa Mahamadu’s funeral cannot be performed as that of a Yaa-Naa and above all, not at the Gbewaa Palace. That has never happened in our history while a Yaa-Naa or Regent of Dagbon is in place.
c. The funeral of a Yaa-Naa requires the presence of substantive chiefs (not Regents) on skins which have significant roles to play during the funeral of a Yaa-Naa. Presently, there are vacancies occupied by Gbon-Lananima (Regents) in various chiefships, including Tolon, Yelizoli, and above all, the vacant Gushegu chiefship. The funerals of these chiefs must be performed before the funeral of Yaa-Naa Yakubu II. The other significant chiefships include the gate skins of Karaga and Mion which need to be filled.
c. It is a well-established fact in Dagbon, as in Ashanti and the Gbewaa States that a town cannot have two valid chiefs at the same time. There cannot coexist in any town or village two sitting Regents of the same town or village. Dagbon cannot also have two Regents at the same time, since the regency implies certain traditional powers and prerogatives, among which, that to make appointments to certain traditional offices. Those powers cannot be shared. The conditions of the enskinment of an eventual regent of Mahamadu Abudulai and the status of such Regent will therefore need to be clearly spelt out in writing to us and Dagbon at large, to avoid any misunderstanding that can only go to further complicate the already difficult situation in which our Traditional Area finds itself for reasons that cannot be attributable to us.
d. The Committee of Eminent Chiefs cannot, under any circumstances, arrogate to themselves the prerogative to determine the process for the selection of a Yaa-Naa, the exclusive domain of the acknowledged traditional Kingmakers headed by the Kuga-Naa.
e. We note that, the Ku-ŋmani (funeral kit) of Naa Yakubu II is presently situated at Katini-duu Royal Mausoleum), guarded by his female relatives and can only be removed upon the successful celebration of his final funeral rites. The ku-ŋmani cannot be in the same katini-duu with that of any other and there cannot be two katini in the palace at a time.
For so many reasons, a reasonable solution to the myriad of problems being imposed on Dagbon could have been the performance of Mahamadu Abudulai's funeral anywhere else, or, after the accession to a chiefship by his son or other member of his direct line of the family, a possibility not considered by their Majesties.
We wish to point out that, we will only be parties to action with regard to the funeral of our late father when the related prerequisites of Dagbon custom have been complied with. We note that, while the funeral of a non-office holder is of such great concern to the State of Ghana and the Eminent of Chiefs, no such consideration or concern whatsoever is being shown regarding the brutal murder of a sitting Overlord, our father. The Almighty sees us all and with all his might, at his chosen time, he will eventually do justice to the orphans and Dagbon at large.
We have heard the calls of some of our sons and daughters to engage in radical action to protest against the decision of the Eminent Chiefs, but call for calm to prevail, as we take this on in a democratic fashion. We have also noted the hasty calls by some of our sons and daughters, as well as those of some potential beneficiaries of this great injustice and their allies, that we comply with the dictates of the committee, which Their Majesties intend to present to His Excellency the President, for whom we have the greatest respect. We are as keen as they are, to dry the tears of Dagbon, that our father should rest in perfect peace. We call on all, however, to bear with us, to ensure that, the verdict that some of them knew well before our delegation went to Kumasi is one that will not wreck further havoc but bring the genuine and sustainable reconciliation and peace that we all crave.
Long live Dagbon and Mother Ghana.
By the Andani Royal Family