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Yaa Naa enskinment on course in spite of attack

BY: Zakaria Alhassan & Samuel Duodu
Yaa Naa-elect, Abukari Mahama
Yaa Naa-elect, Abukari Mahama

The enskinment process of the Yaa Naa-elect, Abukari Mahama, is on course in spite of attempts by some persons to scuttle the exercise.

Security personnel in the wee hours of last Saturday foiled an attack on the old Gbewaa Palace, leading to the death of one person and the arrest of two others.

The suspects, who would not identify themselves, but from whom an AK 47 assault rifle was retrieved, are currently assisting the police in their investigations.

Enskinment process

After the performance of customary rites in the Gbewaa Palace last Friday night, Naa Abukari Mahama was led on a procession to Zohe.

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The event was witnessed by hundreds of anxious onlookers who lined up the streets last Saturday to catch glimpses of the new Overlord-in-the-making.

As part of the custom, Naa Mahama will be confined at Zohe, where he will undergo regal grooming until Thursday when he will be moved into the Gbewaa Palace for his eventual coronation on Friday.

Security

According to the police, the incident occurred during the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on the area but did not disrupt the enskinment process of the Yaa Naa at ‘Katini’ in the Gbewaa Palace.

The deceased, whose body has been deposited at the Yendi Hospital morgue and believed to be in his early 30s, was among the attackers who were allegedly firing at the palace from a nearby house.

The Public Relations Officer of the Northern Regional Police Command, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Mohammed Yussif Tanko, said “calm has since returned to the Gbewaa Palace and the entire Yendi municipality; the situation is being monitored”.

He stressed that the possession of illegal arms and ammunition was still a crime especially in Yendi and its surrounding communities.

Meanwhile, military and police personnel in the municipality remain alert and have stepped up monitoring exercises to help nip in the bud any threat to peace as the enskinment process of the new Yaa Naa continues in the traditional seat of the Dagbon Kingdom (‘Namship’).

The Interior Ministry imposed a 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew on the Dagbon municipality.  The curfew was revised yesterday to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Goodwill messages

Congratulatory messages have been pouring in for the Yaa Naa-elect since the Chief Custodian of Dagbon, Kuga Naa Abdulai Adam, announced his selection last Friday.

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; former President John Dramani Mahama and the Bolin Lana of the Abudu Royal Family, Mahamadu Abdulai, have all congratulated the Yaa Naa-elect.

“Like the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians, I am delighted about today, and I look forward eagerly to vising Yendi soon to congratulate the new Yaa Naa in person, once he is outdoored. I assure him and the entire people of Dagbon of my government’s wholehearted support in helping to restore Dagbon to its former glory and greatness,” President Akufo-Addo said.

For his part, former President Mahama expressed joy that “after many years of hard work, negotiations, long meetings, disagreements, traditional considerations and agreements, we celebrate the efforts of successive governments for this day as Dagbon has finally seen peace”.  

Committee of Eminent Chiefs

In a statement, the three-member Committee of Eminent Chiefs, chaired by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, also congratulated Naa Mahama on his selection to the Dagbon Skin.

The committee, which mediated over the protracted Dagbon chieftaincy crisis, thanked the “accredited elders (kingmakers) of Dagbon, led by the Kuga Naa, for having applied the time-tested customs and traditions in the process of selecting the new Yaa Naa”.

It expressed appreciation to the Abudu and the Andani Royal families for their “understanding and cooperation in the performance of the funerals of both Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV and Naa Yakubu Andani II.

The statement urged the Yaa Naa-elect to work towards restoring Dagbon to normalcy.

It further pledged the committee’s readiness to engage the Yaa Naa in resolving all outstanding issues pertaining to the funerals of princes and elders of Dagbon and the enskinment of regents of both Yaa Naa Abdulai IV and Yaa Naa Andani II, as well as other regents.

“We appeal to all Dagombas, especially Abudus and Andanis, to accord due recognition and obeisance to the new Yaa Naa as we chart a new course for lasting peace in Dagbon,” the statement said.

Other members of the committee are the Overlord of the Mamprugu Traditional Area, Nayiri Nabohagu Mahami Sheriga, and the Overlord of the Gonja Traditional Area, Yagbonwura Tutumba Boresa II.

Events of March 2002

The selection of a substantive Yaa Naa for Dagbon and preparations for his coronation at the Gbewaa Palace on Friday have brought relief to the nation that had to grapple with protracted conflicts in the aftermath of the death of Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II in Yendi in March 2002.

Current happenings in Yendi also give a glimmer of hope for the accelerated development of the area that had suffered from slow development for the past 17 years due to precarious and unsustainable peace.

The late Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II was enskinned on May 31, 1974 until his assassination on March 27, 2002, with about 30 of his elders at the Gbewaa Palace. He was subsequently given a State burial on April 10, 2006 after a compromise was reached between the major stakeholders in the Dagbon chieftaincy royalty, the Abudus and the Andanis.

The eldest son of Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani was later enskinned as Regent of Dagbon on April 21, 2006, with the skin name Kampakuya Naa Abdulai Yakubu Andani, to manage the affairs of the kingdom until the final funeral rites that were performed from January 11, 2019 to January 18, 2019.

Wuaku Commission

Following the March 22, 2002 tragic events in Yendi, which led also to injuries to many people and massive destruction of property, then President, 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, chaired by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice I. N. K. Wuaku,  with Prof. Kwesi Yankah, then with the University of Ghana, and Mrs Florence Brew, an educationist, as members, was given a four-point term of reference.

First, the commission was “to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of and establish the facts leading to the events and the resultant deaths and injuries in Yendi in the Dagbon Traditional Area of the Northern Region between March 25 and 27, 2002” and second, “to identify those responsible for the events and resultant deaths and injuries of persons and to recommend appropriate sanctions or actions against any person found to have caused, been responsible for or been involved in the violence and the resultant deaths and injuries”.

It was also “to inquire into any matter which the commission considers incidental or reasonably related to the events and the resultant deaths and injuries”, and fourth, “to submit within one month its report to the President, giving reasons for its findings and recommendations.”

Starting off on May 29, 2002, the commission encountered some hiccups which it surmounted before eventually presenting its report to President Kufuor on November 6, 2002.

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," it said.

On  the immediate cause of the disturbances, the commission said it was  'trivial incident “ explaining;  “An attack on Ziblim Abdulai by Abudu youth in the morning of 25th March, 2002, infuriated some Andani youth, who armed themselves and fired shots in the direction of the Abudus. Indeed, the first casualty in the exchanges was an Abudu-Abdulai Issahaku aka 'Who Born You.' He was shot by unidentified companions of Mutaru."

Following the submission of the report 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.

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

Efforts by successive governments

Successive governments have played various roles in achieving peace in Dagbon in the aftermath of the chieftaincy crisis in March 2002. 

Former President Kufuor’s Committee of Eminent Chiefs, which started work in 2002 to find a lasting solution to the long-drawn-out Dagbon chieftaincy dispute, consequently fashioned a road map to peace and submitted same to President Nana Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House on November 21, 2018.

Among the recommendations of the committee was the performance of the funerals of Yaa Naa Mahamadu Abdulai from December 14 to December 28, 2018 and that of Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II from January 4, 2019 to January 18, 2019.

On the evening of last Friday, accredited elders of Dagbon were to enter the sacred seclusion room at the Gbewaa Palace to consult the traditional oracles for the selection of a new Yaa Naa for Dagbon.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) government under late President Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and Mr Mahama, even though promised to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of the Dagbon crisis in their 2008 manifesto, could not meet that campaign pledge.

President Mahama, however, succeeded in reconstructing some of the houses of the custodians of Dagbon tradition that were destroyed in the wake of the conflict in 2002.

Both Presidents, including the current government, led by Nana Akufo-Addo, also contributed efforts at sustaining peace in Dagbon and further supported efforts of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs in drawing up the road map to peace that is currently being implemented.