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Opinions of Sunday, 22 June 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Bimbilla Painfully Recalls Yendi

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

The sundown gunning down last Thursday, June 19, 2014, of the Overlord of the Bimbilla Traditional Area, in the Nanumba district of the Northern Region, grimly recalls the brutal assassination of the Overlord of Dagbon, Yana Yakubu Andani II. And the fact that it has taken more than a decade for the members of the two Dagbon royal gates, namely, the Abudus and Andanis, to see eyeball-to-eyeball with one another, and to smoke the proverbial peace pipe, indicates that the country is likely to go through yet another phase of a protracted chieftaincy crisis (See "Chief Gunned Down With 4 Others" Daily Guide/ 6/21/14).

What is clear, so far, is the fact that the slain chieftain, Naa Andani Dassana Abdulai II, was sitting on a powder-keg of a vehement challenge to his legitimacy by another faction of the Bimbilla royal family. We also know that the dispute had been raging for some twenty years, though the duration of Naa Andani Dassana Abdulai on the skin - the Nanumba equivalent of an Akan paramount stool - has yet to be made clear by any of the most reliable media reports and accounts. As well, we know the identity of the leader of the assassins, because he had allegedly asked some palace maids and/or attendants for access to the chief and been promptly shown the way into the parlor of Naa Andani Dassana Abdulai who, we are told, had just finished his evening prayer and was reading some "Suras" or verses from the Quran.

What is puzzling, however, is the fact that the palace attendants who had shown the prime regicide suspect, Mr. Issah Buga, and the latter's apparent accomplices, had readily done so knowing fully well, according to the Daily Guide report, that Mr. Buga was vehemently opposed to Naa Abdulai and may have been involved in a heavy gunbattle that took place as recently as this past March, over the death and burial of one of the claimants/pretenders to the Bimbilla skin by the name of Nakpaa-Naa Salifu Dawuni.

It is also not clear how long the entire criminal act - in which three or four other lives had been taken - had lasted, in view of the fact of the widespread availability of cell phones among the general Ghanaian population, let alone among the relatively more privileged members and attendants of the royal family. In short, what I am trying to get at regards how long it took the eyewitnesses to call in the police, or any of the burly (machomen) supporters of the chief. I am also wondering about the apparent absence of any palace guards at the time, knowing very well that all was not hunkydory with the authority and legitimacy of the slain chief.

In one or two other accounts that I have read, we are told that there had been constant police surveillance and security services provided at the palace - with a nightly curfew having been imposed on the Bimbilla township - and that on the evening of the dastardly act under discussion, the police had curiously and inexplicably withdrawn their palace services well before their normal breaks. And so it well appears to me that this is one aspect of the incident on which any forensic experts may want to focus their investigations. It also appears rather strange that neither the Minister for Chieftaincy Affairs nor the President of the National House of Chiefs has made any public statement in respect of the latest tragedy. One would also expect the Chieftaincy Affairs Ministry to closely liaise with the Interior Ministry, in view of the high spate of regicide in the country in recent years.

But, of course, the latter suggestion is merely academic, in view of the recent utterly unprofessional pronouncements of Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, the Interior Minister, over the alarmingly porous security apparatus of the country. One wonders what he is doing pretending to be Ghana's chief security officer, when the man clearly exhibits the grossest incompetence, both in deed and rhetoric.

The Government's offer of GHC 100,000 bounty for any information leading to the arrest of Mr. Issa Buga and his criminal accomplices is rather too early in the process. Good community policing, particularly in high tension and crime-prone areas of the country is the most effective approach to this kind of problem. And it is quite certain that if the Government had added this quite considerable sum of bounty money to the budget of the Bimbilla police service, we probably would not be disconsolately mourning this tragedy.

We are also likely to be hearing some ardent critics of his, caustically carping President John Dramani Mahama in much the same way that former President John Agyekum-Kufuor caught a lot of flack vis-a-vis the 2002 Yendi carnage. The less politicized the Bimbilla Tragedy becomes, the far more likely it is that the assassins would be promptly brought to book.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
June 21, 2014