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Has The Yagbonwura “Sold” His Kingdom To The President?

Wed, 12 Jun 2013 Source: Ziem, Joseph

By Joseph Ziem

On the 3rd of May 2013, I stumbled upon a piece of GOOD and BAD news surrounding the longstanding Buipe Chieftaincy dispute in the Northern Region of Ghana, which made me quite puzzled.

I asked myself several times whether what I had heard was true and if it was, what does it make of the people [Gonjas] who are actually involved, especially when conflict resolution experts regard their chieftaincy succession line as the best in the country; thus the LOWEST number of chieftaincy disputes they have recorded over the years.

Well, it is good and refreshing to know that the Buipe chieftaincy dispute has been resolved finally. One account claims the dispute was resolved courtesy the President of the Republic and a son of the Gonja Kingdom John Dramani Mahama through Businessman Alhaji Asuma Banda whereas another account claims it was resolved by the President in collaboration with the King of Gonjaland Yagbonwura Tuntumba Borese Sulemana Jakpa I ably supported by a committee of chiefs.

But, it was also bad omen to learn that the President purportedly influenced the Yagbonwura with a whooping amount of GH¢300,000.00 in order for him to rescind a previous decision he [the King] and his Traditional Council took in 2010 to unanimously dis-enskin the then Buipewura Mahama Abdulai Jinapor II for gross misconduct.

What misconduct? Mahama Jinapor was alleged to have engaged in some nefarious activities including assaulting a chief [the Choriwura] and was therefore summoned by the King to his palace for a meeting. However, in the course of the meeting tempers flared up and Mahama Jinapor purportedly pulled a pistol and attempted to shoot the king, but the gun did not respond.

Interestingly, following his dis-enskinment, Mahama Jinapor who felt his fundamental human rights had been infringed upon, headed for the court to have the decision of the Gonja Traditional Council overturned. Indeed, he succeeded and in 2011, an Accra High Court ruled in his favour and the Gonja Traditional Council was ordered to reinstate him to his position as substantive Buipewura.

In fact, it is said that the king and members of the Traditional Council of which he is the chairman got angry and somehow questioned the authority and audacity of the court. For instance, it is said that since the court ruling, there had been a stalemate between Gonjas and the then administration of President John Atta-Mills and Vice President John Mahama because most Gonjas believed that the government particularly the former Vice President and now President was supporting the dis-enskined Mahama Jinapor, hence his ability to win the court case instead of being punished severely for what he reportedly did.

Besides, following the dis-enskinment of Mahama Jinapor, the Yagbonwura enskined a new Buipewura from the Lebupe Royal Family in the name of Bawa Awusi Jewu Lebu II and refused to follow the order of the High Court that came later. Thus, there had been two chiefs superintending the Buipe Traditional Area until recently, the President got involved again by resolving the dispute supposedly with CASH and CARS.

How It All Began

I am told from the scuttlebutt that sometime in February 2013 a committee of chiefs mainly from the Gonja Kingdom was put together to resolve the Buipe chieftaincy conflict and they included the Damongowura [Chairman], Kpansheguwura, Choriwura, Mankpanwura [represented by Sorwura], Wasipewura, Kpembewura [represented by Kanyasiwura], Bolewura [represented by Salawura], Tuluwewura, Kusawguwura and Lepowura M.N.D. Jawula.

The mandate of the committee as I’ve been told by a close source was to find a lasting solution to the conflict that had been raging on for many years between the Lebupe and Jinapor Royal Families of the Buipe Traditional Area in the Gonja Kingdom. At the end of its meeting, 99 percent of the committee members decided that Mahama Jinapor should be reinstated as Buipewura which the Yagbonwura also willingly or unwillingly supported. This was after Mahama Jinapor had admitted guilt and pleaded for forgiveness from the committee and the King. A copy of minutes of the committee’s meeting held on Monday and Tuesday 18th to 19th February, 2013 in Tamale at Gariba Lode which is in the custody of this writer, confirms this.

From the grapevine, it is alleged that the President through an intermediary offered each member of the committee Gh¢100,000.00 and a four-wheel drive after the Damongowura had left midway during the meeting to seek medical attention in Sunyani. The Damongowura, the representative of the Mankpanwura and the Kusawguwura it is believed rejected the cash and cars because according to them, they took sacred oaths before becoming chiefs.

Sources earlier on claimed that, the Mankpanwura and Kusawguwura also refused to sign a document that should have paved way for the reinstatement of Mahama Jinapor but later on the two chiefs were coerced by the Yagbonwura to sign, yet they rejected the cash and cars. The only person who did not sign the supposed document up till now is the Damongowura.

The Damongowura has since stated in an earlier news report published by The Daily Dispatch that, the decision by the committee and the Yagbonwura to rescind the 2010 decision of the Gonja Traditional Council was not in conformity with Gonja custom considering the fact that, Mahama Jinapor committed a serious offence against Gonja custom and was therefore, dis-enskined. The Yagbonwura and the committee rescinding the decision of the Traditional Council to reinstate Jinapor by dis-enskining an innocent and legitimate chief for that matter [Jewu Awusi Bawa Lebu] according to the Damongowura was unheard-of. He cautioned that the decision by the Yagbonwura and the committee that Jinapor be reinstated whiles his successor dis-enskined would most likely lead to serious repercussions in Buipe very soon.

On his part, the Kusawguwura in the same newspaper report also expressed discontent about the way and manner the Buipe issue was resolved, stressing that it was unfair on the face of natural justice to take the Buipe skinship and give it back to Mahama Jinapor. He said he refused to sign a document that would confirm that the committee members had all agreed for the Buipe skin to be returned to Mahama Jinapor. However, he found out later that the Yagbonwura had agreed with the committee’s report and when he [the King] asked him to sign he had no option than to obey his order.

Spokesperson to the Yagbonwura [the Doliwura] including some key members of the committee have so far denied that President Mahama bribed the King to rescind the decision of the Gonja Traditional Council and reinstate Mahama Jinapor as Buipewura.

Also, a copy of minutes of the committee’s meeting confirmed the presence of Alhaji Banda during the said meeting. It indicated that “Alhaji Banda further briefed the members of how the President of Ghana, His Ex- John Mahama expressed worry over the issue and prayed that the said matter have amicable settlement or else how could he settle others from other Traditional Areas in the country when his own house is on fire.”

It continued “His Ex- John Mahama therefore explored he, Alhaji Banda to approach the Yagbonwura through the committee to have the Buipe chieftaincy dispute settled amicably in the interest of peace in Gonja in particular, and in Ghana as a whole and that because of the Buipe chieftaincy matters he, His Ex- John Mahama had no peace.” This is in sharp contrast to an earlier interview Alhaji Asuma Banda granted this writer, claiming that President Mahama did not ask him to settle any dispute. So the question is, what was Alhaji trying to hide?

The Buipe Chieftaincy Resolution Accord

There is already an agreement [a verbal one] that after the demise of Buipewura Mahama Abdulai Jinapor II, the Lebupe Family which is next in succession to the Buipe skin would have their candidate rule twice as Buipewura.

Also, all chiefs enskined during the reign of Buipewura Awusi Jewu Bawa Lebu II would still remain as legitimate chiefs and all lands sold considered valid to their owners without the need for them to change or acquire new documents.

Furthermore, from now onwards any development agenda or project to be carried out in Buipe must come under the watch and supervision of Buipewura Mahama Jinapor II and the dis-enkined Buipewura Lebu II for the sake of peace and unity to prevail.

Any Danger Ahead?

At the moment, the longstanding Buipe chieftaincy conflict has been resolved but no one knows how long it will last, considering the fact that most Gonjas feel that they have been disgraced and disappointed by their King and their collective destiny as descendants of the great Ndewura Jakpa [Founder of the Gonja Kingdom] purportedly sold to the politician who is now the kingmaker. Perhaps, Gonjas are not against the Buipe chieftaincy dispute being resolved but the news emerging that money purportedly exchanged hands is a worry to most of them.

There may be peace and harmony prevailing among residents of the Buipe Traditional Area currently, but there is certainly no doubt that this peace and harmony is fraught with acrimony that will definitely lead to another conflict in the near future. This is because the agreement reached following the dis-enskinment of Bawa Awusi Jewu Lebu is not being fulfilled as expected of the Lebupe Family.

Moreover, all the chiefs including the King of Gonjaland who allegedly accepted any kind of bribe from President Mahama or the government to overturn the 2010 decision of the Gonja Traditional Council could be attacked by some spiritual disease or die under mysterious circumstances according to some indigenes in the area who claimed a similar misfortune once befell some chiefs of the land decades ago.

The writer is a freelance journalist and a social media fanatic based in Tamale. Views or comments may be sent to him via ziemjoseph@yahoo.com or +233 207344104.

Columnist: Ziem, Joseph