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Road to peace in Dagbon

BY: Zakariah Alhassan & Samuel Duodu
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (middle) with Nayiri Naa Bohogu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga (left) and Yagbonwura Tuntumba Boresa Sulemana Jakpa I. The three constitute the Committee of Eminent Chiefs set up by then President John Kufour in 2002.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (middle) with Nayiri Naa Bohogu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga (left) and Yagbonwura Tuntumba Boresa Sulemana Jakpa I. The three constitute the Committee of Eminent Chiefs set up by then President John Kufour in 2002.

Dagbon made history last Friday following the coronation of a new overlord at the Gbewaa Palace, under the skin title, Yaa Naa Abukari Mahama II, putting behind them 17 years of a protracted dispute over who sits on the skin.

The killing of Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II in March 2002, along with 30 others, led to dispute between the two Royal Gates to the ‘Namship’ (kingship) – the Andanis and Abudus – leaving them without an overlord for 17 years.

The ‘outdooring’ attracted a large retinue of dignatories from all walks of life to witness and support the historic occasion.

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They included President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, whose decisive leadership served as a perfect icing on the cake started by former President, John Agyekum Kufuor with the setting up of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs in 2002, with inputs of all Presidents after him, to restore lasting peace to Dagbon.

The coronation was chaired by the President of the National House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV, the Agbogbomefia of the Ho Asogli State, and attended by the Chairman of the Council of State and Juabenhene, Nana Otuo Siriboe, the Chairman of the National Peace Council, Rt. Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante and the clergy, sub chiefs in the Dagbon kingdom, political party representatives, top hierarchy of security agencies and the Regional Minister, Mr Mohammed Sa-eed, who also played significant roles in achieving peace in Dagbon.

Besides the dignitaries, indigenes and affiliates of Dagbon also trooped to Yendi to witness the historic occasion, giving security personnel an arduous task in maintaining order and security at the function, a charge they discharged creditably.

Road to peace

The Eminent chiefs committee is made up of the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (chairman), the Paramount Chief of the Gonja Traditional Area, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Boresa Sulemana Jakpa I; and the Paramount Chief of the Mamprugu Traditional Area, the Nayiri Na Bohugu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga.

The committee on November 16, 2018, made a declaration to bring finality to the decades-old conflict between the Abudu and Andani Royal families in Dagbon with the submission of a road map to peace in the troubled kingdom to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the Jubilee House in Accra.

The roadmap gave the Abudu and Andani royal families in the Dagbon Chieftaincy divide two weeks to perform the funerals of Yaa Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV from December 14, 2018 to December 28, 2018, after which the final funeral rites of Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II would take place January 4, 2019 to January 18, 2019. The later was delayed for a week due to some misunderstanding.

With the funerals of the two Yaa Naas over, the four kingmakers of Dagbon who include the Kuga-Naa, Abdulai Adam, and the Gushie Naa, consulted the oracles to guide them in the choice of a right candidate for the ‘Namship’ before settling on the Paramount Chief of the Savelugu Traditional Area, Yoo Naa Abubakari Mahama.

Enskinment

Before the coronation in Yendi, the Yaa Naa had been enskinned behind closed doors after which verses of the Quran were recited early in the morning of Friday.

Naa Abukari Mahama had been led on a procession to Zohe for his grooming, which event was witnessed by hundreds of anxious onlookers who lined-up the streets to catch a glimpse of the new Overlord in the making.

He was confined in Zohe for a day before being moved into the Gbewaa Palace through the Mba Dugu (Chief of Staff) residence for his eventual coronation.

Commission of Enquiry

Following the tragic events in Yendi between March 25 and 27, 2002, which led to the death of Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II and some 30 others, as well as injuries to several people and the massive destruction of property, then President, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, by

Constitutional Instrument, 2002 (C.I. 36), appointed a Commission of Inquiry on April 25, 2002, to investigate the incident.

The Commission, in its report described the disturbances that occurred in Yendi as “the three days war.”

"Having considered the totality of evidence before the Commission, we have come to the conclusion that the events that took place in Yendi on 25th, 26th, and 27th March, 2002 were criminal acts of an act of war fought between two Gates for which individuals from both Gates are blameable," the Commission said.

Following the submission, in which the alleged killers of Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani were identified, the government issued a White Paper based on which the Attorney General began criminal proceedings against 15 persons but they were acquitted and discharged by the High Court, presided over by Mr Justice E.K. Ayebi on March 29, 2011.

Justice Ayebi held that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused.

According to the trial judge, the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against each of the accused persons on the grounds that evidence led by the 12 prosecution witnesses had been inconsistent, fabricated stories against the accused persons and were subsequently discredited on cross-examination.