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Reaction To Press Conference Held By The Abudu Royal Family Youth

2007-03-16 14:49:43
This article has been read 1112 times.

A section of the Abudu Royal Family Youth, in Yendi, held a press conference on Wednesday 7th February 2007 in which they raised certain pertinent issues. For the benefit of the majority, I wish to respond to the issues raised and bring to the public domain the hard facts.

One can not respond to this press conference without identifying the so-called organizers of the above press conference. The organizers are nothing but a group of marauding youth who have no total respect for their elders but also the three Eminent Chiefs, who have been given the difficult and arduous task of ensuring that Dagbon is back to a situation where the true customs and traditions reign supreme.

At the last meeting of the two families in Kumasi; at the Manhyia Palace last December; Nana Otumfuo Osei Tutu II cautioned both families not to put into the public domain issues that had been discussed. No sooner had the Abudu Family arrived and called a press conference led by Banvim Lana Mahama Abdulai in complete disregard to the Otumfuo’s wise counsel. Since their last press conference, the last one of 7th February 2007 has been the third of such conferences. All these press conferences have been widely publicized. Their last press conference was given front page coverage by the Daily Graphic of Saturday February 10, 2007. Nana Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has failed to bring them to order but is instead blaming the two families. This has always been the style of Nana Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Any time the Abudu family causes any problem for the Committee of the three Eminent Chiefs, instead of condemning them for their intransigence and disrespect to his high office and his two other colleagues on the committee; Nana Otumfuo Osei Tutu II finds it safer to vent his anger and frustrations on both families for reasons best known to him.

There is this Dagomba adage that “lightening never strikes at the same spot twice”.

Lightening did strike the Dagbon Gbewa Palace once in 1969 and the consequences were the following:

i) Sixty-nine (69) loyal Dagbon citizens lost their lives.

ii) The Palace was desecrated by human blood

iii) Dagbon customary funeral rites of the deceased Ya-Naa Andani III was kept in abeyance.

iv) The customary occupants of the Gbewa Palace at the time were uncustomary forcibly evicted by a combined police and military team upon instructions from the political office holders.

v) A purported election and enskinment of a new Ya-Naa in the person of late Mahamadu Abdulai was uncustomary effected.

vi) Dagbon then became a local state of citizens who were either for custom or against custom.

vii) Expediency was to replace Dagbon custom and “he who dares wins “became the imposed norm.

The 7th February 2007 Press Conference held by a section of the Abudu Youth in Yendi in which they again threatened that the Gbewa Palace would once again be strike by lightening. To the unenlightened and misguided Abudu Youth the Gbewa Palace has been reserved for the performance of the funeral rites of the late former Ya-Naa Mahamadu Abdulai and that the Regent of Dagbon, Kampakuya-Naa Abdulai, should be made to vacate the palace to pave the way for them to uncustomary performs the funeral rites of late former Ya-Naa. They have threatened mayhem if this wishful thinking of theirs is not met. It is however uncertain whether the three Eminent Kings of Asante, Yagbon and Mamprugu collectively intended in the Road Map to Peace in Dagbon to have lightening strike the Gbewa Palace twice by revisiting the 1969 massacre.

Under our present democratic dispensation, it shall be imprudent to depart from our time tested Dagbon customs for the sake of the so-called expediency, because the highest court of the land had decided that the Dagbon Gbewa customs should prevail in the chieftaincy matters of Dagbon.

The unenlightened and misguided elements within the Abudu Youth made certain misconceived ideas and assumptions which I would throw light on to enlighten the good people of Ghana who are ignorant of Dagbon customs.

i) “the unprecedented and uncustomary call for a temporary palace.” Yendi the present traditional capital of Dagbon local state is not the first seat of governance of the Overlord of Dagbon, the Ya Naa. Historically, the traditional capital of Dagbon can be traced to Nassa, Dipali, Bagli, Yogu, Gambaa and Pusiga in the North Eastern part of Ghana. The different locations of the traditional capital of Dagombas do not imply that Dagbamba (Dagombas) are nomadic. The location of the traditional capital at various times in the history of Dagbon indicates that relocation has taken place many times.

It is therefore preposterous to state that a call for a temporary palace is unprecedented and uncustomary. It has happened several times before and, therefore, it is false to describe the present temporary relocation of the Gbewa Palace as unprecedented and uncustomary.

ii) “the presence of the Abudu work force at the site of the temporary palace was treated with scorn and contempt.” The custodians of Dagbon customs had declared that the vandalized Gbewa Palace was desecrated with human blood and by no other people but the Abudu Royal family and therefore called for the construction of a temporary palace. Associates of the Abudu family massed up and destroyed the foundation in the proposed temporary palace in the full glare of the military personnel who were guarding the place

It smacks of nothing but hypocrisy and dishonesty of the Abudu Youth to have involved themselves in the construction of the temporary Palace by the custodians of Dagbon customs. It is therefore not surprising that the perpetrators of the sacrilege at the new site were viewed with scorn and contempt.

iii) “the most controversial ordering of the regent installations.” There are laid down customary procedures in Dagbon for the installation of a Regent of Dagbon. Regency in Dagbon is not a novelty and it was needless to have a controversy. Ya-Naa Yakubu II (of blessed memory) is the incumbent Ya-Naa. When he was gruesomely and callously assassinated, Dagbon needed a Regent. It is therefore customary that the eldest surviving son of a deceased Ya-Naa (if not barred by custom) is automatically the Regent of Dagbon. The eldest surviving daughter (provided she is also not barred by custom) is also installed as “Pakpong” (Princess Royal). Any perceived controversy, therefore, is mischievous and uncustomary.

iv) “the said document (i.e. the Dagbon Reconciliation Committee Memorandum of Agreement) attained the status of law immediately after its endorsement by all parties.” A Reconciliation Committee lacks the capacity to enact laws. It is purely an advisory body and any agreement concluded therefore is a gentleman’s agreement. That Committee’s Memorandum of Agreement after its endorsement by all parties, does not immediately attain the status of law. Since negotiations are still in progress, the Memorandum of Agreement is a Road Map that is subject to negotiations. It is therefore mischievous to jump the gun before the starter’s orders are given.

v) “the old Gbewa Palace should remain free of occupation or any activity until a date is set for the performance of the funeral rites of Na Mahamadu Abudulai.” This means that a date has to be set before any use of that property is determined by custom.

The custodians of Dagbon custom headed by Na-Yaba, Kug-Naa have said it, time and again, that the vandalized Gbewa Palace is desecrated by the spilling of human blood including that of the Overlord of Dagbon who was the occupant of the Palace before his gruesome and heartless assassination. The fact that the Otumfuo Committee of Eminent Kings consented to build a temporary Palace for Dagbon had in principle accepted that the vandalized Gbewa Palace has been desecrated. The Otumfuo Committee therefore can not presume to know what Dagbon customs does with a desecrated Palace until the committee is advised by the custodians of Dagbon custom.

vi) “the decision on the venue for that funeral has been decided.” It is preposterous to jump to a hasty conclusion that the venue for the funeral of late Mahamadu Abdulai had been decided, because major consultations, discussions and negotiations are still in progress. The Otumfuo Committee is yet to seek the wise counsel of the custodians of Dagbon customs headed by Na-Yaba, Kug-Naa as to the fate of the vandalized and desecrated Palace.

vii) “the battle in which the late Ya-Na lost his life.” The above statement by the Abudu Youth purports that there was indeed a battle in which the Overlord of Dagbon, Ya-Naa Yakubu II (of blessed memory) lost his life. This has been the story carried by the Abudus and their cohorts in government. A battle in which one side lost as many as forty (40) loyal citizens including the Overlord of Dagbon and more than thirty-five (35) houses vandalized and looted and no single person from the other side was even injured nor any property of theirs destroyed. To date none of the victims whose houses were destroyed received any package from NADMO nor any organization. Some of the victims have not been able to reconstruct their houses. However NADMO was quick to come to the aid of the April 2003 Tamale riots because they were N.P.P supporters and sympathizers. If the Abudus claim they also suffered any casualty which is natural in every war and which has not been recorded officially they should be honest and sincere for once and tell the good people of this country know who the victims are and whose properties got looted or destroyed. Even the Almighty United States of America which invaded Iraq to depose Sadam Husain suffered casualties in terms of people and logistics.

To those who are ignorant of Dagbon customs the Ya-Naa never declares war on his own subjects.The Ya-Naa only declares war when his land is invaded by foreigners. In such situations the entire local citizenry of Dagbon state; war chiefs (Kanbon nanima), and their warriors (sapashin nima), shall be involved.

To describe the anarchy which occurred for three good days (i,e. March 25th – March 27th 2002) as a war is quite shameful and dishonest on the part of those who peddle such blatant falsehood. It is, therefore, not surprising when Honourable Hackman Owusu Agyeman who was then the Minister of Interior said in Parliament that it was a war and that he had seen the video clip. When the Honourable Minister was asked to produce the clip for his colleagues who had no privilege of viewing it, he denied ever saying that he had seen a video clip. But time will vindicate those of us who have stood by the truth and maintain that the Ya-Naa was besieged by anarchists for three days and was finally gruesomely murdered in cold blood with forty loyal Dagbon citizens. The Ya-Naa Yakubu II naturally defended his Palace.

viii) “the need for equity ,justice and fairness in finding a solution to the Dagbon conflict.” What is happening in Dagbon is not a conflict of family lineage. It is a conflict of some Dagbon citizens opting to uphold and defend the cherished tried and tested customs of the Gbewa tradition on the one hand and some anarchic Dagbon citizens on the other hand opting to dilute and obliterate those customs. It is only a coincidence that two major families (i.e. Abudu & Andani) are perceived to be the actors in the conflicting views of Dagbon customs.

Unfortunately justice in President Kufour’s Ghana is rather selective depending on which side of the political divide one finds one self. In a situation, for example, where vultures are killed for human consumption and the law enforcement agencies are quick to apprehend the killers of the vultures and quickly arraigned them before the Courts.

Interestingly for almost five years now after the massacre of the Ya-Naa and forty loyal citizens of Dagbon the national security apparatus, noted internationally for their professional competence, have not been able to unravel the mystery surrounding the massacre of Ya-Naa Yakubu II and the forty loyal citizens of Dagbon.

The widows and orphans of the late Ya-Naa Yakubu II (of blessed memory) and the forty loyal Dagbon citizens who were massacred on March 27th 2002 are still crying for justice. Justice has eluded these widows and orphans under a government which preaches the rule of law and good governance.

Such inconsistencies in the application of the law shall not find a solution to the intractable Dagbon conflict.To bring an end to this culture of impunity where a handful of anarchists can hold the entire nation to ransom because the political powers are solidly behind them. There is the need for, the powers that be to allow the security apparatus a free hand to do their work as professionals and allow the law to take its course and deal ruthlessly with the perpetrators of this heinous and dastardly act. This would send a signal to would be anarchists and marauders that the laws of the land would not allow them to go scout free and there would be no protection offered them by a political power group.

Fairness in finding a solution to the intractable Dagbon conflict is the recognition and acceptance that all the customary rites were invested on Ya-Naa Yakubu II (of blessed memory) when he was selected and enskinned as Ya-Naa by the customary kingmakers. Ya-Na Yakubu II (of blessed memory) was the occupant of the Gbewa Palace until his gruesome and callous assassination on March 27th 2002 is an incontestable fact. In strict conformity with Dagbon custom Ya-Naa Yakubu II (of blessed memory) is currently the only one entitled to a Dagbon state funeral. A Dagbon state funeral is solely reserved for Kings (Ya-Naas’) who die whilst in office. Na Yakubu II (of blessed memory) was invested as the King of Dagbon local State on May 31st 1974 until his life was cruelly and heartlessly terminated on March 27th 2002.

It is not only unfair but criminal to assert that an armed robber should be regarded as a previous bonafide owner of valuables that he/she illegally dispossessed the rightful owner of for the period that he/she was in possession of those chattels. An illegal or criminal possession does not establish true or bonafide ownership.

The Abudu Royal family has since 1988 been making this uncustomary demand that Mahamadu Abdulai should be given a Dagbon state funeral. Dagbon state funeral is solely reserved for Ya Naas’ who die whilst in office Mahamadu Abdulai‘s selection and enskinment as Ya-Naa was declared null and void by the highest court of the land (the Supreme Court of Ghana) on December 17th 1986. The demand by the Abudu Royal family has no precedence in the annals of the history of Dagbon. Mahamadu Abdulai passed away peacefully fourteen clear years (i.e. October 15th 1988) after his illegal reign as a Ya-Naa was terminated.

Dagbon state does not lack precedence as far as how funerals of Ya-Naas who die out of office are concerned. There are at least three (3) Ya-Naas who died out of office in the history of Dagbon local state since Na Nyagsi in 1416. They are: Na Bukari Tampion- Karigu. His father was Ya-Naa Ziblim Kulunku. Na Dahimani Kukari-Jei (1899), son of Ya-Naa Yakubu I (Nantow) and the third was Ya-Naa Bukari Bofo a son of Ya-Naa Andani II (Grilong). Ya-Naa Bukari Bofo was selected and enskinned as Ya-Naa but abdicated voluntarily, due to old age and ill health. It was agreed that his children should be regarded as children of a Ya-Naa and could therefore contest for skins reserved for children of Ya-Naas. All the above chiefs’ funerals were never performed as Dagbon state funerals. They were therefore not performed at the Gbewa Palace. Their funerals were performed where they died by their respective families and associates.

The Supreme Court’s decision that the purported selection and enskinment of Mahamadu Abdulai was null and void (emphasis mine). And the reason was that Dagbon customs were violated in the process of the purported selection and enskinment. The Supreme Court’s orders (wise counsel) was that Mahamadu Abdulai should be regarded as a former Ya-Naa in order not to deny his children their birth rights as princes/princesses of Dagbon.

The dichotomy becomes apparent when people tend to play down or ignore the major decision which declared Mahamadu Abdulai’s selection and enskinment null and void and rather tend to accept the orders which were purely advisory and not legally binding. The Supreme Court of Ghana accepted the fact that, customarily late Mahamadu Abdulai was not a Ya-Naa . This landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Ghana has never been contested by the Abudu Royal Family. To put it simplistically a female at birth is not a male and could not in death therefore be regarded as a male. An hermaphrodite is neither a King nor a Queen of any State.

Signed Alhassan Osman Noble (Citizen of Yendi)


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