The leadership of the Muslim community in the northern region has asked government to urgently set up a peace committee to specially handle chieftaincy issues in the three traditional areas of the region, where protracted chieftaincy disputes have lingered for so long. Nanung, Bunkpurugu and Dagbon are the region’s hotbeds of tension and conflict.
Making the appeal at a joint news conference called by the Central Mosque and the Ambarriya Muslim Community on Wednesday, barely 24 hours after the Andani royal family emphatically stated that it would not allow the funeral of the late Naa Mahamadu Abdulai to be performed at the Ghewaa palace in Yendi, the Muslim leaders described the protracted dispute as unfortunate.
A peace committee, the Muslim leaders emphasized, will ensure an enduring and lasting peace in the three hotbeds of tension and conflict, Nanung, Bunkrugu/Yagoon and Dagbon. They prodded the feuding factions in the Dagbon Chieftaincy dispute to let cool heads prevail in the interest of future generations of Dagbon.
Noting that the Dagbon conflict continues to have incalculable negative consequences on the lives of not only the people of the Dagbon traditional area, but also on the lives of the people of the entire northern region, they appealed to the leaders of the two royal families, the Abudu and Andani Gates to re-commit themselves to the peace process with the view to finding a lasting solution to their family dispute in the interest of the people of Dagbon over whom they exercise leadership.
Alhaji Abdul Salam Ahmed, the regional chief Imam, Alhaji lamented the devastating effects of the conflict economically, physiologically, socially, culturally, religiously and politically.
The Muslim leaders’ position read by Sheikh Amin Bamba of the Tamale Central Mosque, observed that resolving this conflict is within the capabilities of the people of the Dagbon traditional area on the one hand, and the leadership of other traditional authorities as well as the religious and political leadership of this country on the other.
They also described as sad, the fact that members of the Nanung royal family, who are brothers to the Dagbon royal families, have not learnt any negative lessons from the Dagbon conflict.
Peace council welcome the decision
The northern regional executive secretary of the National Peace Council, Reverend Father Thaddeus Kusah in an interview with Zaa News welcomed the move by the Muslim leaders. He said such move if coordinated properly will go a long way to enhance the council’s work in ensuring peace.
Father Kusah, however, lamented the council’s shortage of funds to carry out its work, especially in the districts and hopes that with adequate funds, the council’s officers in the districts of the troubled areas will live up to expectations.
FULL STATEMENT DELIVERED ON BEHALF OF THE CENTRAL MOSQUE AND AMBARIA MUSLIM COMMUNITIES IN TAMALE-29TH MARCH 2016.
I would like, first and foremost to extend to you, on behalf of the Tamale Central Mosque and the Ambaria Muslim Community, the Islamic greetings of Assalaamu Alaikum, wa Rahmatul Laahi Wa Baarikaatuhu which means May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of the Almighty God be upon you. I also want to thank you for responding positively to our invitation to attend this press conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this conference has been organized by the leadership of the Tamale Central Mosque and the (leadership of ) Ambaria Muslim Community under the auspices of the regional chief Imam to express our concerns, views and recommendations on the protracted chieftaincy conflicts that are raging on in three of the four traditional areas of the Northern chieftaincy conflicts that in our estimation can compromise the peace and stability of this dear county of ours.
These conflicts are:
The Dagbon Chieftaincy conflict
The Bimbilla conflict and
The Bunkpurugu conflict
We would also express our views on the upcoming 2016 elections and the rise in youth indiscipline in the country.
The Dagbon Chieftaincy conflict
On the issue of the Dagbon conflict, we wish to observe that this unfortunate conflict has had and continue to have incalculable negative consequences on the lives of not only the people of the Dagbon traditional area but of the people of Northern Region as a whole.
In fact, it has affected us economically, psychologically, socially and culturally, religiously and politically. We also wish observe that resolving this conflict is within the capabilities of the people of the Dagbon traditional area on the one hand and the leadership of other traditional authorities as well as religious and political leadership of this country.
It is therefore as a result of this conviction that we are appealing to the leaders of the two royal families the Abudu and Andani Gates to re-commit themselves to the interest of the people of Dagbon over whom they exercise their leadership.
We believe that as a way forward the committee of the three (3) Eminent Chiefs should continue with the mediation process and show firmness and resoluteness in the decisions that they take in order to avoid the loss of confidence of the people in the mediation process.
We urge both parties to show magnanimity and respect the decisions agreed with the three eminent Chiefs mediating in the conflict.
We are aware of that as a result of the emotional attachment of the people of the traditional area to the conflict, the status quo (conflict) is being exploited by individuals and groups to serve their parochial interest and impediments under the guise of serving the interest of a particular side (Abudu or Andani) are placed on the way to the resolution of the conflict.
We therefore wish to call on the government to take steps to enforce or implement all relevant decisions that are arrived at during the negotiations in line with Quranic directive as contained in Quran 49:9 which states that ” if two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel, make peace between them; but if one of them (the parties) transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then you should all fight the party that transgresses until they comply with the command of Allah, but if they comply, then make peace between them with Justice, and be fair; Allah loves those who are fair and just”.
We wish to appeal to the delegates to the negotiations to fear the Almighty Allah and put the interest of Dagbon first and to remember that no matter how much they sacrifice for peace to prevail in Dagbon, both the Abudu and the Andani gates are the winners but that when they fail sacrifice and peace is not achieved both the gates are the losers.
We want to remind them, the delegates that the current and future generations are looking up to them for the resolution of this conflict Nd they should not fail us. You cannot afford to and should not bequeath this conflict to the next generation. It should be clear the two gates by now that not one of the two gates can win this conflict, only both can win.
The Bimbilla and Bunkpurugu conflicts
It is rathe sad that, the Nanumba royal family who are brothers to the Dagbon royal families have not learnt any lessons from the negative consequences of the Dagbon conflict and have plunged themselves into a similar conflict which has began to sup the energies and resources of the people of Bimbilla.
The conflict is also beginning to widen and if necessary steps are not taken early it will become complicated and engulf the whole of the Nanumba traditional area.
In a similar vain, the people of the Bunkpurugu area who are grand parents of Dagbon and Nanumba royal families are at arms against each other over the Bunkpurugu skin resulting in the lost of lives and property. All these conflicts are a drain on our national coffers and threat to the security of this nation as well as a threat to the development of our democracy.
We want to observe that most of the disturbances that occur during electioneering period in the region have their roots in the chieftaincy conflicts that have polarized the people.
Solving the chieftaincy conflicts will therefore go a long way minimizing violent party political conflicts in the region. We therefore wish to appeal to the government to set up as a matter of urgency, peace committees for the Nanumba and Bunkpurugu conflicts to support the people of these areas to achieve enduring and lasting peace in these traditional areas.
It is common knowledge that it is the youth who have been very active in these conflicts and have always been the victims even though they may not even understand what the whole conflict is bout.
We therefore wish to appeal to the youth to concentrate their efforts on acquiring education and skills and not to waste their energies on conflicts that will only jeopardize their future.
We want the young people to know that without their participation disagreements will not degenerate into violent conflicts with its consequent loss of lives and property
We will like to remind the youth that the graves sin according to Islam, aside associated partners with Allah is to be used by people for their own selfish ends leaving you dejected here on earth while a severe punishment awaits you in the hereafter.
We also wish to note that we the Imams and Ulamaus as leaders of the Muslim communities have incessantly prayed for the resolution of these conflicts but now we reckon that we need to do more than prayer to get involved in working with government and other religious groups to support peace initiatives that are geared towards the resolution of all conflicts.
We are therefore initiating consultations among the Imams and Ulmaus to strategize and support the efforts of the committee of eminent Chiefs in resolving the Dagbon conflict and other committees that might set up to bring to peace to Bimbilla and Bunkpurugu and the Northern Region as a whole.
On the up-coming Elections, we are all aware that in a few months campaigns will begin in earnest. We would like to appeal to all the political parties to regard the elections as competition for the opportunity to serve the nation so that they can see their sister parties as competitors and not adversaries. We appeal to the consciously take steps to preempt and tackle incidence of conflict to prevent them from degenerating into violent ones. We urged the parties to expand their security units to incorporate peace building and conflict resolution and make concrete party plans to work to promote peace and manage conflict within and without the parties.
We also wish to appeal to the youth of the political parties not to allow themselves to be used to foment trouble either within or outside their parties.
We also wish to appeal to security forces to, right from the onset demonstrate fairness and professionalism in the handling of conflicts that may arise so as to win the trust of all political parties to ensure a peaceful and successful elections. We urged the political parties to continue to work together and with the security forces to ensure that we have free, fair and peaceful 2016 elections.
We, the leadership of the Muslim community have observed a growing incidence of gross indiscipline among sections of the youth in the country. We think that this phenomenon is persisting because of the apparent indifference displayed by the leadership of this country-that is religious leadership, traditional leadership and political leadership.
We wish to therefore appeal to all religious, traditional and political leaderships to wake up and take steps to stop and reverse the trend before things get out of hands. The youth particularly those involved in what they called SAKAWA and the vigilant groups of political parties are potential threats to the peace and security of this nation and we need to to act NOW.