Regent of Dagbon Kampakuya-Naa Andani Yakubu Abdulai has raised a litany of concerns with the mediation process to bring peace to Dagbon.
The Regent shared his observations that the customs and traditions of Dagbon have been ignored by the Committee of Eminent Chiefs tasked with mediating the political crisis which broke in March 2002.
In one example, he noted that as Dagbon Regent he has the power to install chiefs and administer stool lands but he has been prevented from carrying out these responsibilities.
He also accused the Otumfuo Committee of bias against actual kingmakers of Dagbon because according to him, their role within the kingdom has been taken over by an advisory council of elders.
He said members of this council who are princes have an interest in who becomes the next Ya-Na.
READ PRESS STATEMENT
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
MATTERS ARISING FROM THE PROGRESS REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF EMINENT CHIEFS PRESENTED TO YOUR EXCELLENCY ON 21st NOVEMBER, 2018
I write to express to Your Excellency my appreciation for your determination to bring enduring peace to Dagbon. I also wish to draw your attention to the following critical issues arising from the last meeting of the Mediation Committee (MC) set up to bring Dagbon peacefully back to its culture and traditions as it relates to the Nam of Yani and the subsequent presentation of their progress report to Your Excellency on Wednesday 21st November 2018.
The pronouncements of His Majesty Otumfuo before Your Excellency on 21st November exposes clearly the untruths on which the “decisions” of the Mediation Committee of the Eminent Chiefs is based. Their decisions, entirely out of tune with the principles of mediation and with Dagbon customs, appear to be aimed at achieving an agenda that should not be adopted by Your Excellency, democratic father of all Ghanaians, under the oath you took upon the assumption of office.
A. FINAL FUNERALS RITES OF MY LATE FATHER, NAA YAKUBU II
Your Excellency, I wish to categorically deny the misleading impression created by the Otumfuo during his speech at Jubilee House that I have deliberately acted to prevent the performance of the final funeral rites of my late father, Naa Yakubu II. This erroneous impression, which the Mediation Committee is seeking to create cannot be supported by the facts, and appears to be the case of giving a dog a bad name, to hang it.
I have consistently demonstrated by word and deed, to the knowledge of the Mediation Committee and the Government of Ghana my eagerness to see the performance of the final funeral rites of my murdered late father, in accordance with the customs of Dagbon.
I recall that, on Tuesday 12th February 2013, I invited the following senior chiefs to the Gbewaa Palace, for a discussion of related matters:
1. Kar-Naa Mahama Adam (deceased);
2. Yoo-Naa Abukari Mahama;
3. Mion-Lana Alhassan Abudu Ziblim (deceased).
I expressed to them my strong desire to commence preparations for the performance of the final funeral rites for Naa Yakubu II. To give effect to this strong desire, I directed them to lend support for the reconstruction of the houses of key elders that were destroyed in the unfortunate events in Yendi in March 2002. The affected homes were those for Mba Dugu, Kpahigu, Malli and Gu-Lana. The need for the rehabilitation of the Palaces of Zohe-Naa and Kum-Lana was also tabled, because of their role in the enskinment of a new Yaa-Naa which would undoubtedly have taken place at the end of Naa Yakubu’s funeral rites.
The three, namely, Kar-Naa, Yoo-Naa, and Mion-Lana gave their consent. The Mediation Committee, the Northern Regional Security Council and the Government of Ghana were duly informed at the time. Upon our request, those houses have long been completed, but the keys remain in the custody of the Government and the Committee of Eminent Chiefs, for reasons we have never understood. I went beyond that, Your Excellency, to personally finance the construction of parts of the Zohe-Naa’s Palace, which were not captured in the initial estimates. Further preparing for the funeral, I went to Lingbunga, the maternal home of Naa Yakubu II and rehabilitated the family house, which by custom, would host the last funeral rites for him, after the major one in Yendi.
Of the three senior chiefs that were invited for the discussions, the only survivor today is the Chief of Savelugu who can attest to this fact. It is therefore not true that I have consciously worked to prevent the performance of the funeral.
Your Excellency, the Otumfuo’s suggestion that I refused to respond to his invitations is also not factual. I actually met him twice at Manhyia on 1st February 2015 and 18th July 2017, once at my behest and once at his invitation. A third invitation was sent during the Buɣum (Fire) festival in September 2018, when it was inappropriate to leave Yendi. Through his intermediary, he agreed to postpone my visit to a later date. When I followed up later, the first week of October 2018, he indicated that he was traveling to South Africa and would invite me upon his return. I have since not heard from him.
I did not also unilaterally get my Lawyer to go to him, but advised the Lawyer to respond favourably to his invitation, on a matter before his Committee, which, strangely, is also receiving judicial attention, at the instance of persons claiming to be leaders of the Abudu Royal Gate, for whom he has no blame. The Courts have been contemptuously ignored by the Committee.
The Otumfuo further grossly erred when he claimed that a very uncustomary advisory Council of Elders he put in place could not meet. The Council met at least seven times with its last meeting in December 2011. During its lifetime, it discussed and advised me on funerals, land administration, and the customs of Dagbon. Copies of the minutes were sent to the Northern Regional Minister and the Yendi Municipal Assembly. Copies of the minutes of the last two meetings were sent to the Chairman of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs.
The bias of the Otumfuo Committee against the non-partisan Kingmakers of Dagbon is quite palpable. The Eminent Chiefs ignored them to set up this Council to perform their functions. Many of the members of the Committee were Princes aspiring to chieftaincy promotions and even to the Yendi skins. Their mandate included, among others, the offer of advice on the performance of funerals, including that of the Yaa-Naa and the appointment of replacement chiefs for those deceased.
Even though serious reservations were expressed by the kingmakers and some participants in the mediation process, all reluctantly cooperated, in the interest of peace. The appointment of the Kuga-Naa as Chairman of the Council could not suffice to cure the severe flaws in the creation of this Committee to undermine the centuries-old traditional institutions of Dagbon.
The motives of the Otumfuo for publicly peddling untruths about me are only in the secret of the gods and his collaborators. Those motives should, however, explain the difficult situation in which he has all along tried to paint me. I must mention, in the same context, that, contrary to the Otumfuo’s assertion, I have never had any personal representatives among the delegations to Manhyia for the mediation. The delegations were in place before my enskinment as Regent.
B. THE MEDIATION COMMITTEE AND THE CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS OF DAGBON
Upon its inception, the Mediation Committee by its utterances left no party in the mediation process in doubt that it was going to be guided by the customs and traditions of Dagbon in its deliberations. The Chairman, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II indicated that he and the other eminent members of the committee have reverence for the customs and Nam of Dagbon. There was no reason for any person to doubt this, as their Majesties are highly respected and honourable traditional leaders of respected kingdoms in our country.
Your Excellency, the Mediation Committee, with the support of successive governments, has tried to steer Dagbon back on course from the mess the kingdom was pushed into on 27th March 2002. It is a human institution, however, and most of its recommendations appear to be in sharp contrast to the well-established customs and traditions of Dagbon. Matters of custom previously pronounced on by the Committee, particularly on the proper venue for the funeral of the one who has come to be known as Naa Mahamadu, being the house in which he died, suddenly changed to the old Palace, to accommodate the wishes of the Abudus. This decision among other inconsistencies, a source of worry, is the reason for the eternal nature of the mediations rather than the wish of any individual.
The following examples, Your Excellency, would illustrate this view:
(i) His Majesty the Otumfuo, in Jubilee House, on 21st November, referred to a Clause in the Final Peace Agreement (Roadmap) of 2006, which provided that the powers of the Regent of Dagbon shall be limited such that he shall have no power to appoint chiefs or alienate lands or other resources of Dagbon. The committee explained that it took this “decision” owing to the “peculiar” circumstances of Dagbon. That decision was unprecedented in the customs and traditions of Dagbon, and against the express provisions of Article 267 of the 1992 Constitution, which provides that, “(1) All stool lands in Ghana shall vest in the appropriate stool on behalf of, and in trust for the subjects of the stool in accordance with customary law and usage.” As the legitimate Regent of Dagbon and acting Yaa-Naa, I have a constitutional right and customary power to appoint chiefs and administer the area, including the approval of land allocations by my subordinate chiefs. Under Dagbon custom and the law, the Yaa-Naa as the allodial owner of Dagbon land is a signatory to all land leases. He does not directly make allocations. All land transactions in Dagbon could, therefore, have been held up indefinitely if the ill-informed “decision” of the eminent chiefs had been given the force of law.
When they were Regents of Dagbon at various periods in our history, Kampakuya-Naa Andani Yakubu and Bolin-Lana Mahamadu Abudulai, exercised the established right to enskin chiefs. All Dagbamba who lived through the regency of each of these two can attest to this. Indeed, no Dagbana accepted the provision in clause (f) of the Final Peace Agreement (Roadmap), except those who were desirous to see the obliteration of the customs of Dagbon as long as that served their parochial interest.
Naabapra Bolin-Lana Mahamadu Abudulai when he was in regency as Bolin-Lana enskinned the following chiefs
1. Kukuo-Kpang-Lana Issah Salifu
2. Nyimbung-Naa Yibram
3. Balo-Naa Abdulai
4. Gu-Lana Abukari
5. Yani Liman Mahama
6. Zohe-Naa Abdulai Alhassan
7. Gagbun-Dana Abdulai Ziblim
He also enskinned other chiefs to Saakpuli, Langa and Kushebihi.
The validity of enskinments by regents was confirmed in the fact that, chiefs enskinned by the Bolin-Lana while he was Regent remained untouched. Those enskinned after his purported enskinment as Yaa-Naa were deskinned, following the eventual nullification of his own enskinment, on grounds (among others) that he was not enskinned Yaa-Naa by the rightful kingmakers.
Going by the same custom, His Majesty Yaa-Naa Yakubu II, then Kampakuya-Naa, in his regency, enskinned the following chiefs
1. Kuga-Naa Abdulai Braimah
2. Gushe-Naa Alidu Ziblim
3. Zohe-Naa Abdulai Salifu
4. Gulkpe-Naa Abdulai Bukari
5. Balo-Naa Abukari Yahaya
He also enskinned a chief for Kasuliyilli.
Your Excellency, it was evident that the Mediation Committee’s decision that sought to prevent me as Kampakuya-Naa from enskinning chiefs and to administer Dagbon lands was contrary to the established practice and custom of Dagbon and appeared only aimed at restraining my person from the full exercise of my rights as Regent. That sought to belittle the Nam of the deceased Yaa-Naa Yakubu II and my status as the Regent of Dagbon.
I must state that, in Dagbon, a Regent has the same rights as a substantive chief in making appointments. Most Dagbamba wondered and still wonder what constituted the basis of the committee’s decision to prevent me, a Regent of Dagbon, from administering Dagbon in line with age-long customs and traditions – especially the enskinment of chiefs to vacant positions, a prerogative not denied my appointees and Regents on lower skins.
The “peculiar” circumstances of Dagbon cited to support this bizarre decision could be none other than the murder of my father His Majesty Yaa-Naa Yakubu lI by persons in a hurry to succeed him. Were the restraining and uncustomary orders anything beyond a desire to satisfy the caprices of the murderers? Had my father Yaa-Naa Yakubu ll died a natural death, would I, the Regent, have been denied the rights exercised by all other regents in Dagbon? In a twist of fate, am I being humiliated because the Abudus murdered my father?
Your Excellency, contrary to the assertions by His Majesty the Otumfuo in the Jubilee House, on 21st November, my enskinment as Regent of Dagbon was made in accordance with Dagbon custom. Neither Dagbon nor its custom was established by a Committee, and no Committee outside Dagbon could have “appointed” me as Regent. Neither my father nor I committed any crime to merit any restraining order on my regency. It is we who were rather wronged. Neither custom nor the law withheld the regency, but like the funeral of my father, it was only the state which prevented action, ostensibly pending the conclusions of enquiries into the murder of the Yaa-Naa, his elders and several innocent persons. As soon as the State decided it had no real interest in the murder, it was a matter of course that the regent be installed.
With due respect to them, the Eminent Chiefs have no right whatsoever to determine the installation of a Regent for Dagbon and could not have exercised such right. It is noted that it was the Government’s intervention to install Mahamadu Abudulai as Yaa-Naa which brought Dagbon to this deplorable situation, in the first place. It is an insult to Dagbon and the State of Ghana that the Eminent chiefs should claim to have exercised over Dagbon a prerogative that even the government, which appointed them cannot claim or arrogate to itself under the Constitution.
It appears strange, Your Excellency, that the Committee of Eminent Chiefs should resurrect a deceased Regent of doubtful status, Bolin-Lana Mahamadu Abudulai, to accord him the status and rights of a Yaa-Naa against the express findings of the Supreme Court that his installation as Yaa-Naa was null and void. While at the same time, so eagerly and blatantly seeking to undermine the status, rights, and prerogatives of the sitting regent of a Yaa-Naa properly installed under the customs of Dagbon and the laws of this country. According to him, and it is nowhere in the judgment, the Supreme Court has granted the status of “former Yaa-Naa” to Mahamadu Abudulai, the Committee decided in its 2006 “Roadmap” that his funeral should be performed as that of a ”Yaa-Naa.” His Majesty Yaa-Naa Andani Yakubu II and Bolin-Lana Mahamadu Abudulai cannot by any stretch of the imagination be accorded the same status. In fact, there is no statement in the Supreme Court judgment indicating the claim by the Committee that there is a former Yaa-Naa called Mahamadu Abudulai IV, who should be buried in the palace upon his demise and whose children should be accorded the status of Yaa-Naa’s children with rights to the skins of Karaga, Savelugu, and Mion.
(ii) The refusal of the Mediation Committee to press for the performance of the funeral rites of chiefs who have roles in the final funeral rites for a deceased Yaa-Naa is a source of concern, being against the age-long traditions of the Dagbon Kingdom. This decision is curious indeed. On a number of occasions, I, in consultation with critical elders and kingmakers, have pressed for the funerals of the late Gushie-Naa, Tolon-Naa, and Yelizol-Lana as a prelude to the final funeral of Naa Yakubu II. Substantive chiefs in these positions are a customary requirement because there are specific duties only substantive chiefs in such chiefdoms perform. No one in living memory can point at a precedent in which regents from Gushiegu, Tolon, and/or Yelizoli have played roles in the final funeral rites of a deceased Yaa-Naa and/or after which they performed rites in the enskinment of a new Yaa-Naa, which naturally comes after a deceased Yaa-Naa’s funeral.
The funeral of a Yaa-Naa is part of the process leading to his replacement. The Eminent chiefs cannot have a good reason to proceed to elections before providing for the appointment of electoral Officers. If the Mediation Committee insists that the final funeral rites for Naa Yakubu II should go ahead without substantive chiefs in Gushiegu, Tolon, and Yelizoli, that would not only amount to disregard for the memory of the late Yaa-Naa and the time-tested customs of Dagbon but would become another terrible precedent – the other one being the murder of the Yaa-Naa, in the 21st century. It is not too late for the government to review this stance of the Mediation Committee and to reconsider its position on these three funerals for us to be convinced that the committee and government are genuinely interested in being guided by Dagbon customs in making decisions on Dagbon. I implore Your Excellency to take action in order to remedy the situation.
iii. The Committee previously openly agreed with the representatives of the elders/kingmakers and some other participants in the mediation process that, the old Gbewaa Palace had been severely desecrated by the innocent blood shed in it in 1969 and 2002. It is therefore no longer suitable for continued royal occupation or activities. Surprisingly, the “progress report” indicates the same venue for the performance of royal funerals, as demanded by the Abudus. This decision does not appear to be the best way to respect the custom of Dagbon and its custodians, whose role the Committee seems to have usurped, in the mistaken belief that, their head, the Kuga-Naa, owes his position to them. The misgivings of the kingmakers expressed to the Otumfuo were, unfortunately, ignored. It should, therefore, come as no surprise if they do not recognize Dagbon in the new customs being introduced by the Otumfuo committee. There is nothing entrenched in a position that rejects the lawless contempt in which Dagbon and its customs are held, in pursuance of an alien agenda.
NEEDLESS FEARS OF THE ABUDU ROYAL FAMILY
In the organization of the “Nam” of Dagbon, none of the ruling houses (i.e., Abuduyilli and Andanyilli) can claim any town to be their exclusive preserve. It means that there is no town or village which any of the Royal Houses can claim to be theirs, no matter how many times and how long they have supplied chiefs to the town or village. There is therefore neither an Abudu town/village nor Andani town/village in Dagbon. Even among the Kpamba (elders), Namoglinsi (senior royal Assistants) and Worizohanima (the Equestrian class), no claim can be made by any lineage of chiefs that a particular town or village theirs.
The system allows for an open contest by all who qualify, regardless of the house of origin or lineage. The Committee of Eminent Chiefs does not seem to have benefitted from this basic fact and from the over a decade and half of enquiring into Dagbon customs. If they did, could this not be just one more manifestation of a desire to strip Dagbon of its customs and traditions in chieftaincy?
Your Excellency, at the ceremony at which the Mediation Committee presented its progress report to you, His Majesty the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, explained that members of the Abudu family entertained fear that if they went ahead and performed their fathers’ funerals, I would not enskin them, but members or sympathizers of the Andani family in the vacant positions. That fear is baseless as it is not borne out by the facts, Your Excellency, there are examples where vacancies created by the death or promotion of Andani royals or sympathizers have been filled with royals from the Abudu family by me. The following are some of them.
(i) Gundo-Naa Abiba Mahama of Andani family passed into eternity and I enskinned the incumbent Gundo-Naa Hajia Samata Abudu from the Abudu family – a daughter of Naa Abudubila himself. Gundogu is the senior-most woman chiefdom of Dagbon.
(ii) I promoted the present Yoo-Naa of Andani family from Kpunkpono village and I enskinned a royal from Abudu family to Kpunkpono. He is the incumbent Kpunkpono-Lana Abudulai Sulemana
(iii) The Senior Regent (Gbon-Lana kpema) of His Majesty Naa Yakubu II was the chief of Ngnani. He died and was replaced by me with a member of the Abudu family.
(iiii) When Zakoli became vacant, I enskinned a royal from the Abudu family to Zakoli. He is the incumbent.
(v) The present Kunkon-Lana is a royal from the Abudu family, and I enskinned him in the place of a royal from the Andani family who received an appointment to Kpatinga.
There is, therefore, no basis at all for any royal from the Abudu family sitting in regency today entertaining fears that if he goes ahead to perform his deceased father’s funeral, the vacancy would be filled with an Andani royal or sympathizer. Selection is based on the dictates of the oracles coupled with other considerations.
Your Excellency, Regents of some localities, may be appointed to the same skins, if the appointing authorities deem them fit. if it were the norm, however, for all regents to remain on the skins of their deceased fathers, the true intentions of the rebel Regents, the Nam of Dagbon would be significantly denatured and several competent princes would forever be denied access to skins if their fathers currently occupy no skins under the alien new concept that the Otumfuo and his Committee are seeking to impose on Dagbon. That concept is not known to be practiced in Asanteman, nor is it known in the Kingdoms of the two other eminent Committee members. It should not be allowed to destroy Dagbon.
As the Regent of Dagbon, I am on oath to be fair to all royals, all Dagbamba and all persons under my jurisdiction, within the confines of our established customs and traditions.
Your Excellency, it is disturbing that the committee has even shown an inclination towards predetermining a successor to His Majesty Naa Yakubu II. They have remained silent on the funerals of deceased occupants of gate skins (Karaga and Mion), in flagrant disregard of the sensibilities of Dagbamba in general and the need for choice by the consecrated kingmakers in particular, who have the right, under our age-long constitution to select and enskin a successor to a deceased Yaa-Naa. It is necessary for Your Excellency to intervene to safeguard the sanctity of our customs.
It is my firm belief, Your Excellency, that coming from a royal lineage yourself and having intimate knowledge of our customs and traditions, coupled with my conviction that you are out to restore the dignity of the Nam of Dagbon, you would not allow any aberration to further undermine the already dented image of our chieftaincy institution.
Sadly, Your Excellency, the Chairman of the Committee announced that the Committee had not finished its work, because it has to continue until a new Yaa-Naa is enskinned. With the very uncustomary “decisions” dictated by the Chairman on behalf of his Committee, to Your Excellency and Dagbon, we believe that another decade in their hands will only reduce Dagbon to the status of an unrecognizable vassal State and we appeal that, Your Excellency should not allow that to happen.
It is regrettable that the Committee Chairman, His Majesty the Otumfuo, spoke at the presentation ceremony to the whole world, as the veritable sovereign of Ghana, an unfortunate situation and a significant error, since his traditional authority does not flow beyond Asanteman. I pray that, Your Excellency will not be deceived into accepting the unworkable “decisions” of the Committee, which are neither in accord with the custom of Dagbon nor the laws of Ghana. It is Your Excellency alone who will be called upon to account to the good people of Ghana for the potentially dangerous consequences of any attempt to implement the Eminent Chiefs’ “decisions” which are not in accord with Dagbon customs.
The uncustomary “decisions” of the Eminent Chiefs account for the decision of the Andani family not to send representatives to the ceremony of 21st November, and Your Excellency may wish to pay heed to their concerns. Contrary to the Otumfuo’s declaration, “most of the elders who matter” were at home and not in Jubilee House, where only potential beneficiaries of the injustice and their agents were paraded to applaud the insults to their custom and heritage.
It is my prayer to you, Your Excellency that you commit to your oath to protect and defend the laws of Ghana by upholding the right of disputants in mediation to exercise their right at any time during the mediation to opt out of it. The Committee was not in arbitration.
It is also my fervent hope that Your Excellency would take into consideration the contents of this letter and adopt a more workable solution, as the eminent chiefs do not appear capable of bringing solace to our kingdom in distress, in need of durable peace for the socio-economic development of our people.
I wish Your Excellency abundant good health and the guidance of the Almighty God.
REGENT OF DAGBON
KAMPAKUYA-NAA ANDANI YAKUBU ABDULAI
Cc: 1. His Excellency Former President Jerry John Rawlings
Office of the Former President
2. His Excellency Former President John Agyekum Kufuor
Office of the Former President
3. His Excellency Former President John Dramani Mahama
Office of the Former President
4. The Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament
Parliament of Ghana
5. Her Ladyship the Chief Justice
Judicial Service of Ghana
6. His Majesty the Chairman
Otumfuo Osei Tutu Il
Committee of Eminent Chiefs
7. His Majesty the Nayiri
Member of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs
8. His Majesty the Yagbonwura
Member of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs
9. His Royal Highness Togbe Afede XIV
President of the National House of Chiefs
10. The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department
11. The Majority Leader
Parliament of Ghana
12. The Minority Leader
Parliament of Ghana
13. The Hon Minister
Regional Coordinating Council
Tamale, Northern Region
14. The US Ambassador to Ghana
No. 19 Fifth Link Road
15. The French Ambassador to Ghana
16. The British High Commissioner to Ghana
British High Commission
17. UN Resident Coordinator
UN Development Programme
House No. Ring Road East
Near Fire Service Headquarters
18. The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana
Canadian High Commission
42 Independence Avenue
Ako Adjei Overpass
19. The German Ambassador to Ghana
No. 4 Sam Nujoma Close
20. The Chairman
National Peace Council
21. The Chairman
Northern Regional Peace Council