Tension is mounting in the North East regional border town of Bunkprugu as a rival faction in a longstanding chieftaincy dispute is warning of an outbreak of violence if authorities fail to stop the contested chief, Naa Alhaji Abuba Nasimong, from parading himself and performing roles as chief of the area.
The Jamong royal family is accusing the security forces on the ground as well as the Bunkpurugu district security council of siding with and promoting the ‘illegal’ activities of the disputed chief.
It is, therefore calling on government and other peace stakeholders to enforce the ruling of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs, which in August 2019r, nullified the enskinment of Alhaji Abuba of the Jafouk royal gate while declaring the Jamong family as the rightful occupants of the Bunkpurugu skin.
The two royal gates of Jamong and Jafouk families have been in dispute over the Bunkprugu skin for almost three and half decades, starting off in 1985 when the overlord of Mamprugu, appointed and installed a member of the Jafouk family as chief of the Bimoaba land.
This drew protests from members of the Jamong family leading to several bouts of violence, instability and retrogression throughout the period to 2006 when Alhaji Abuba Nasimong from the Jafouk family was again enskinned as a successor.
Clashes again broke out and continued till 2007 when the Jamong family finally petitioned the Northern Regional House of Chiefs for settlement.
The House of Chiefs after more than a decade, finally announcing its verdict in August 2019, ruled against Alhaji Abuba Nasimong and the Jafouk family, observing that Alhaji Abuba could not trace his lineage to any of the two known royal gates to be enskinned as chief of the area, and therefore, should handover the traditional regalia for the onward enskinment of a royal of the Jamong family as new Bunkprugu Naaba.
However, Alhaji Abuba and the Jafouk family together with the traditional appointing authority – the Mamprugu overlord – rejected the ruling as having no effects.
The chief himself had appealed the decision at the National House of Chiefs and a stay of execution was granted.
Jamong Family issues red alert
Nonetheless, the Jamong royal family maintains its refusal to acknowledge the authority of Naa Abuba Nasimong and insists the government must stop him from holding himself as chief until a determination by the National House of Chiefs.
The renewed protest has triggered tensions in the already troubled town, compelling the interior ministry to tighten the curfew from 8 pm to 6 am.
The family spokesman Elisha Thomas, tells JoyNews, the Jafouk family since the beginning of this year has filed more than five different complaints to the security agencies stationed in the town, but according to him, no action was being taken against the chief and Jafouk who are said to have severally breached the peace deal.
He said a traditional journey embarked upon by the chief and the firing of gunshots at his palace area were some of the breaches the security agencies have refused to investigate.
He also warned the recent appointment of the chief by the Bunkpurugu district assembly and the security forces failures to stop him from judging cases and mediating disputes at his palace are recipes for chaos and conflict.
“There is great tension but we know that there is law, and based on law, so we are pleading to government to use their law and let peace prevail in the community”, the spokesman appealed.
Another elder of the Jamong family, David Yogbat, also spoke about what he called the lackadaisical responses of the security forces to the numerous reports made against the chief.
“Since the whole thing started, we normally go to the police to report and they will always promise us, but they don’t. The actual thing which is disturbing us, if the government should have used it’s good office to let them speed up the case, we will have been happy, so that, to put everything amicable in town. We don’t need anything, we need peace,” he said
Contested Bunkpurugu Naaba fires back
In response, Naa Abuba Nasimong has called the bluff of his rivals, insisting he’s the legitimate ruler and would continue to rule Bunkprugu and that the only overriding authority to remove him is the Mamprugu overlord, not even the House of Chiefs.
“We know, there is nobody in this world who does not have enemies. If my enemies do not want me to be a chief, that my enemy should try his best and be the Nayiri of Mamprugu; if you are not in this position, you cannot remove me out of this skin,” he explained.
Naa Abuba also refuted claims of renewed tensions in the area, saying that, ” there is nothing alarming in Bunkpurugu, in the whole of Bimoaba land”, and urging the security to deal with those planning to foment trouble in the area. “I have been resolving so many cases which can even cause war than our chieftaincy issue. So if someone says there is any tension in Bunkpurugu, that person is rather having the tension (sic) and the law should deal with that person, he should be invited”.
District Security Council Chairman reacts
In an interview with JoyNews, the District Chief Executive and Security Council Chairman, Alhaji Majeed Duut, denied the allegations that his office was siding with Alhaji Abuba and the Jafouk family.
According to him, though he was aware of the Regional House of Chiefs’ ruling, he is yet to receive any official notice from either House or the Nayiri or even the chieftaincy ministry instructing him not to regard the authority of Alhaji Naa Abuba Nasimong as chief of Bunkpurugu.
He said until he received such formal notice, he would not be in position to carry out contrary measures or actions in the long winding chieftaincy dispute of the area.
The DCE said the security forces were firmly on the ground and would respond ruthlessly to any potential threats which are likely to harm the peace and progress in the area.
Meanwhile, JoyNews‘ checks revealed many residents are still not aware of the reviewed curfew and there is no compliance as well as enforcement in the town by the security agencies.