House of Chiefs defers Bunkpurugu conflict verdict

House of Chiefs defers Bunkpurugu conflict verdict
Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com
Date: 15-08-2019 Time: 11:08:21:am
The contested chief of Bunkprugu, Naa Abuba Simong from the Jafouk family.

The Northern Region House of Chiefs has rescheduled to another date, its ruling on the decades' old chieftaincy row in the North East Region town of Bunkpurugu.

The Judicial Committee has now set August 29, as the new date to make public, its decision on the 33-year-old conflict between the Jamong and Jafouk families in Bunkpurugu.

Dozens of members of the feuding families, some of them clad in white shirts and holding apparels, were at the House of Chiefs to witness what was supposed to be the final proceeding. 

Sitting commenced after 11am on Thursday, and lasted less than 20mins before the counsel for the House, Alhaji Fatawu, announced the postponement. 

Alhaji Fataw cited "technical" reasons for the adjournment.

Earlier, lawyers of both factions made brief remarks when the case was called.  

The Mamprugu overlord, the second defendant was represented by an elder from his palace. 

After the House deferred judgement, the contested chief, Alhaji Abuba Nasinmong reiterated his willingness to accept any judgement by the Judicial Committee of the House. 

The Lawyer for the plaintiff - the Jamong family, James Owura Mensah, said it was "unfortunate" the judgement had been deferred. 

The lawyer says he's convinced his clients, the Jamong family, would win the case. 

The Jamong and Jafouk families have been in battle over the Bunkprugu chieftaincy skin since 1986 when a member the Jafouk family was enskined chief of the area.  

The dispute renewed 2006 when the current chief, Naa Alhaji Abuba Nasinmong, another member of the Jafouk family, was again enskined by the Naayiri', overlord of the Mamprugu traditional area. 

Aggrieved by the development, the Jafouk family which has claimed sole legitimacy to the Bunkprugu skin, dragged the rival family and the Naayiri before the House of chiefs.  

Violence broke out in 2014 and persisted leading to significant loss of lives until late 2016 when both factions agreed to a permanent ceasefire through a blood burial ceremony.

Armed security


Earlier in the day, armed police personnel were deployed at the premises of the Northern Region House of Chiefs in Tamale, as the Judicial Council prepared to deliver its ruling on the dispute.

It followed the wave of renewed fears of possible violence among residents. 

NR House of Chiefs

JoyNews correspondent in the North East Region, Eliasu Tanko, reports Thursday, the development has compelled the District Security Council to convey more than three emergency meetings in the last seven days.  

Several meetings have been held with the feuding parties and both have to accept any outcome of today's sitting by the Judicial Committee of the House of Chiefs, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for the area, Majeed Duut told JoyNews. 

Peace talks by peace-building organisations including, the Regional Peace Council and West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), have also been on the beat to prepare the minds of the relatives and sympathisers of the factions. 

Majeed Duut said, though there has been no report of "bad signals", the security personnel would remain on high alert. 

He advised residents to "think about what the district has suffered" and embrace peace and give chance for development and progress.

Violence

There has been sporadic violence since 1986 when members of the Jamong family petitioned the House Chiefs after the Naayiri's decision to select a member of the Jafouk family to occupy the Bunkprugu skin.

Both families are members of the Louk clan of the Bimoaba ethnic group with the same ancestral roots believed to hail from a village called Loukporuk in neighbouring Togo but the Jamong family argued, it was the first to settle in Bunkprugu and therefore, the only legitimate family to occupy the skin. 

Although there are other clans within the Bimoba ethnic group such as the Buuk, Temong and the Bawk, the Louk clan was first to settle in Bunkpurugu and therefore, became the caretakers.

Hostilities renewed in 2006 when another member of Jafouk family was again enskinned by the Naayiri. 

Protests

The Jamong family is asking the House of Chiefs to determine the true royals of the Bunkprugu skin and declare the Naayiri, overlord of the Mamprugu traditional area, unfit to select Bunkprugu chief. 

The family accepts the Naayiri as the landlord of the entire but protests his decision to meddle in the Bunkprugu chieftaincy successions.

Impact

According to National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO (2015), Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo District since 1985-2015, recorded 21 ethnic conflicts in different communities, which led to the loss of many lives as well as displacement of some members to other communities.

Communities such as Jimbale, Kambatiak, Kpemale and Bunkpurugu recorded over 50 dead victims, 857 houses burnt.

At some 13,768 people migrated to other neighbouring communities, regions and nearby communities such as Nankpanduri, Tamale, Brong-Ahafo, Accra, Togo and Burkina Faso between 2007 and 2015, to save their lives, the Ghana News Agency reported.

According to the Ghana Education Service (GES) in the Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo District, the conflict between Bimobas and Komkobas in Kpemale resulted in the death of two pupils and a teacher.

That led to the closure of Kpemale D/A Primary School, the only primary school in the community for two years.

The school which had a total enrolment of 394 pupils before the clashes in 2010 and 2011, has seen the numbers reduce drastically following the conflict.