Bimbilla clashes create refugee crisis in Yendi

A refugee situation has been created in Yendi, a second largest but highly polarized city, in the Northern region after a six-hour heavy fighting between chieftaincy factions in Bimbila, Nanumba North district capital left 11 persons dead.

At least 30 families fleeing the grinding chieftaincy unrest to Saboba and Chereponi entered Yendi waiting for other evacuees to proceed.

Residents in villages near Bimbila saw scores of people mostly women and children escaping the fighting by road on tricycles. They believe some were evacuating permanently, Starr News’ Northern regional correspondent Eliasu Tanko reported.

It is still unclear where the refugees have camped after arriving in Yendi but an unidentified member speaking to Starr News by telephone said: “We are waiting for our husbands. I cannot tell you where we are. My husband warned me. We are going to my homeland; Saboba.”

Trace of destructions after the intensive exchanges of gunfire involving blood brothers over a chieftaincy disagreement in the impoverished town has been far reaching. Businesses have folded up. International aid workers and poverty alleviation and child empowerment NGOs were withdrawing, according to Tanko.

Security forces arrested 21 persons and schools remained shut after members of the Gbugmayili gate clashed again with guns over who was legitimate to occupy the throne as Paramount Chief for the Bimbila Traditional Council.

At least more than eight persons have been hospitalized and several properties destroyed in the fight sparked by the contentious Regent for the violence-torn traditional area decision to install a sub chief, despite warnings from both District and Regional Security Councils.

Gunmen launched an ambush attack and opened fire at palace elders who were returning home after the Regent enskinned a warrior chief.

The elders escaped the attack with minor injuries and also returned in revenge after mobilizing. The gun battle happened at Pusuwgu, a cut off suburb of Bimbila.

Police and military force from Yendi and Tamale were dispatched and a fragile calm had been restored, but on Friday interior minister Ambrose Dery sanctioned a reinforcement of 170 armed joint troops.

The Nanumba Traditional Council has two main gates; Bangyili and Gbugmayili whose representatives rotate their occupancy of the throne. However, deep divisions were created in the latter after Na Abarika of the Bagyili died in circa 2003.

The intra- ethnic disagreement between Andani Dasana Abdulai (Andani gate) and Alhaji Salifu Dawuni (Napka Naa gate) ensued after both members claim they were successors to the throne.
Naa Salifu Dawuni was quickly enskinned as the next Bimbila Naa by his supporters and was later affirmed by the judicial committee of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs.

Supporters of the rival faction appealed the matter at the National House of Chiefs but Naa Salifu Andani was murdered in 2014 at the palace by unknown assailants allegedly dressed in police and military uniform and since then killing of innocent lives has persistent.

Some members of the Gbugmayili gate are accusing the rival Bagyili of fueling the violence.

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