General News of Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Source: Daily Guide
Uneasy Calm has returned to Yendi following a last minute decision by leaders of the Abudu Royal Family to back down on plans to celebrate this year’s Damba festival, in accordance with a directive from the security agencies.
Abdallah Sadique, secretary to the Bolinlana who disclosed this to DAILY GUIDE, observed that it was their right to celebrate the event but the political coloration given to it and an attempt by the government of the day to malign the Abudus was among the reasons for the pull-out.
According to him, members and dance troupes earlier last week began rehearsals towards the annual event, only to be stopped midway by a combined team of armed police and military personnel who invaded the Bolinlana’s palace and directed them to disperse.
A similar action was replicated on the dawn of Monday to the surprise of members of the Abudu Royal Family who immediately convened a meeting to that effect.
He noted that though it was a clear usurpation of their rights, leaders of the family, on a second thought, decided not to partake in the celebration as directed by the security agencies who claimed were taking orders from above.
Despite several persuasions with a promise of not breaching peace in the area, he noted, security chiefs insisted they were acting on instructions and could therefore not allow the Abudus to go ahead with the celebration.
Mr. Sadique however wondered why their brothers from the other chieftaincy divide had been allowed to go ahead with the celebration which comes off this Thursday and Friday, accusing the security chiefs of pure bias in the discharge of their duties.
The Yendi Divisional Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Cephas Bediako, when contacted, confirmed the ban on Abudus from celebrating the event, stating they were only acting on the instructions of their superiors.
Meanwhile, security has been stepped up in Tamale and Yendi respectively to forestall violence in these areas regarded as flashpoints of the region.
Though security officers are tight-lipped over the number of armed police personnel deployed to Yendi, regarded the most delicate zone, DAILY GUIDE gathered that about 200 personnel including those from the 6thInfantry Battalion, 6 Bn, are currently on the ground.
A contingent of security personnel has also been put on standby in Tamale to provide assistance to their colleagues on the ground if the need arises.
The period of the Damba festivities is always regarded a tense period in the calendar of the Northern Region, as most violent conflicts in the region are believed to arise during that period.
It is usually this period that supporters of the two major chieftaincy gates (the Abudus and Andanis) express their misgivings over the manner in which the long-standing feud is being handled by government and other relevant authorities.
Self-seeking individuals in the past used the period to whip tension and set the tone for violence, destabilizing the fragile peace of the region.
The Damba festival in itself is categorized into three main festivals, namely Somo Damba, Naa Damba and Belkusi Damba.
It is celebrated under the lunar calendar by the people of Dagbon, Mamprugu, Gonja, Mamprugui, and Nanumba to commemorate the birthday of the Holy Prophet of Islam with prayers and fasting and procession of people on horseback, amidst drumming and dancing.
Originally linked with Islam to mark the birth of Mohammed, the festival has gradually taken on a traditional rather than Islamic tone.
The two-day festival is full of pageantry and showmanship and is celebrated in the towns of Dagbon, Gonjaland, Mamprusiland and Nanumbaland.
Reports reaching DAILY GUIDE suggest that two persons sustained gunshot wounds from warning shots fired by the security agents in front of the Bolinlana’s palace.
The victims, according to the assemblyman for Gagbini electoral area, Abubakari Nachin-Naa, were rushed to a private clinic for treatment.
He reported, “Currently, gunshots are being fired and they are beating people mercilessly. Two persons have sustained serious injuries and they are currently at a private clinic because the whole of Nayili-Fong has been cordoned off and there was no way we could rush them to the Yendi Government Hospital.”
He identified the victims as Hardi Gonja and Afa Shani, brother of the Yendi constituency NPP Chairman.
Angry Abudu youth at the palace indicated their readiness to defend their regent, the Boling-Lana Abdulai Mahamadu, at all cost.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for Yendi, Hon. Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, has called for calm in the area.
He said, “I also got the information this morning around 3 am that a combined team of police and military cordoned the whole of Boling-Lana’s palace and the whole of Nayili-Fong area, preventing people from going in and going out.”
He condemned the gun firing. “What surprised me is the warning shots that were fired because the information I received was that there was no any form of resistance.”
Hon. Habib Tijani pleaded with the security; “I always have my confidence in them and I believe they will be fair and just in dealing with the situation; I am also calling on the security to be fair to the people because we are not in a military regime.
We are in a democratic dispensation and I believe there are laid down procedure by which they will carry out their functions as peacekeepers.”
Upon a tip-off, hundreds of Abudu Youth massed up at the Boling-Lana Mahamadu Abdulai’s palace to resist his arrest.
It was unclear what necessitated the raid but angry residents of Nayili-Fong opined that the move formed part of a calculated attempt to prevent the Abudu Royals from climaxing this year’s Damba festival.
This is not the first time the palace of the Abudu regent has been raided under what has always been suspected to be political maneuvering.