You are here: HomeNews2003 08 29Article 42052

General News of Friday, 29 August 2003

Source: Heritage

Blame Kutu Acheampong For Dagbon Crisis

As the Dagbon crisis continues to defy peaceful, traditional and judicial solutions, accusing fingers also continue to point at different suspects. The latest to be dragged into the crisis is the late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, military Head of State between 1972 and 1978, who was eventually executed by firing squad in 1979, almost 22 years before the murder of Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani on March 27, 2003.

The Abudu Youth, one of the feuding factions in the crisis, is contending with a proposition that the genesis of the Dagbon conflict should be traced to the late Gen. Acheampong.

Alhaji Mugisu Sibawey, the Abudu Youth Leader, is championing this position. He walked into the offices of The Heritage on Wednesday to state the position of the Abudu Gate on an alleged "missing link" in the Dagbon conflict.

According to Alhaji Sibawey, the late Gen. Acheampong instigated the deskinment of the late Ya-Naa Mohammed Abdulai from the Abudu Gate in the mid-1970s.

Alhaji Sibawey recounted how the Acheampong regime then instituted a commission of inquiry under the chairmanship of Justice Nii Armaah Ollenu (Ollenu Commission) to determine the royal status of the late Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani’s father.

The Abudu Gate, Alhaji Sibawey stated, rejected the Commission’s findings because they were not satisfied with its recommendations.

Alhaji Sibawey recalled that the Supreme Military Council regime under Gen. Acheampong subsequently passed a decree, NRCD 299, which debarred all courts in the land from entertaining any judicial litigation on the Dagbon chieftaincy; particularly, any suit appealing against the deskinment of Mohammed Abdulai.

Alhaji Sibawey explained that the Abudu Gate later petitioned the PNP government under the late Dr. Hilla Liman, but the then government refused to entertain the petition.

He said the Abudu Gate renewed their petition under the PNDC regime and it was at that point that justice was done. The Abudu Youth Leader submitted that the PNDC repealed the decree and that enabled the Abudu Gate to seek redress in court over the deskinment of Mohammed Abdulai which they won.

He said the PNDC regime formed a Tripartite Committee made up of representatives of the two Gates (Andani and Abudu) and the government to resolve the litigation, following an appeal filed by the Andanis to the court’s earlier ruling.

Among the recommendations made by the Tripartite Committee was the issue of line succession to the skin and the right of the deskinned Mohammed Abdulai to be accorded a royal burial as a Yaa-Naa if he should die before the incumbent Yaa-Naa, Yakubu Andani.

"Ex-President Rawlings can, therefore, not be blamed for the murder of Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani, considering the role his regime played in resolving the inheritance crisis in the Dagbon area", Alhaji Sibawey stated.

He added: "We, as Abudus, have no problem with the NDC; neither do we hold the NPP responsible for the current conflict in Dagbon."

He said among the remote factors that led to the conflict last year was the failure of the late Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani to respect the directive of the Tripartite Committee to accord his predecessor, Yaa-Naa Mohammed Abdulai, a royal funeral since his death in 1989.

While calling on all interested parties to refrain from making statements that may inflame passions, Alhaji Sibawey was quick to add that, what sparked off the conflict on March 27, 2003, was a rumour that alleged that the late Yaa-Naa wanted to assassinate Bole Lana Abdulai, regent of the late Mohammed Abdulai.

He alleged that the Andanis hired and trained assassins to eliminate the Bole Lana because the late Ya-Naa Yakubu Andani feared the Abudus were soliciting support from the NPP administration to interfere in the succession of Dagbon Chieftaincy.

This, he said, led to the conflict last year, which resulted in the death of the Yaa-Naa.

He described this as "unfortunate because even the Bole Lana, who is currently the head of the Abudu Gate, is not the automatic choice in line to become the Abudus’ next nominee to be Ya-Naa".

Alhaji Sibawey believes that the only way the present stalemate could be resolved is for all Dagombas to come out with the truth and state the immediate cause of the present conflict.

Alhaji Sibawey dismissed suggestions that the Dagbon crisis should not be politicised because, considering the sequence of events that aggregated before the murder of the late Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani last year, it is safe to conclude that the root cause of the conflict was created by politicians. He did not hesitate to accuse the Acheampong regime of its complicity in the crisis.

Conflict analysts however say, since 1954, both military and civilian governments have interfered from Accra with the Yaa-Naa in Yendi, trying to control the Northern Region. In 1959, Abdulai III was reported to be the only paramount chief in the north to support the opposition but President Kwame Nkrumah resisted the temptation to remove him.

After the eruption of the conflict last year, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was said to have advised the Yaa-Naa not to accept a government invitation to Accra, where he would be deskinned and banished.

International magazine, African Confidential, published in its Volume 43 No. 8 edition that the Dagbon chieftaincy disputes have haunted President Kufuor’s political career.

It wrote: "He (President Kufuour) was in Kofi Busia’s Progress Party government, which backed the Abdulai claim to the title in 1969. Police and soldiers fired at demonstrators at the Yaa-Naa’s palace, which the Andani family had refused to vacate; 23 people were killed, 40 were wounded and over 700 were arrested before Abdulai IV was installed under heavy police and military guard provided by the PP government."