General News of Saturday, 25 February 2017
The Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, has stated that the government will not interfere in the Bimbilla chieftaincy dispute, since it is within the remit of traditional authorities.
Briefing Parliament on the situation at Bimbilla last Wednesday, he said there were two aspects of the Bimbilla situation, namely matters affecting chieftaincy and matters of peace, security and safety.
“As regards matters of chieftaincy per se, the government’s position is irrevocably clear. Government shall not interfere whatsoever in matters of chieftaincy. That is the remit of traditional authorities.
Mr Dery said in view of the fact that the Bimbillla skin had the status of a paramountcy, the relevant traditional authorities were the Judicial Committee of the Regional House of Chiefs, the Judicial Committee of the National House of Chiefs and the Supreme Court of Ghana.
He noted that the Bimbilla chieftaincy matter had gone from the Judicial Committee of the Regional House of Chiefs, through the Judicial Committee of the National House of Chiefs and was currently before the Supreme Court.
Latest spate of violence
Mr Dery said on February 8, 2017, the Northern Regional Security Council (REGSEC) in Tamale received intelligence that a planned enskinment of one Mumuni Haruna as Bimbilla Kumabi by the Regent of Bimbilla had the potential to adversely impact the peace of Bimbilla and its environs.
He said the deliberation on the said intelligence by REGSEC in Tamale culminated in a directive to the District Security Council (DISEC) of Nanumba North to persuade the Regent of Bimbilla to delay the planned enskinment, notice of which had been given to DISEC per a letter dated February 2, 2017 for February 9, 2017, to enable REGSEC to put in place necessary security reinforcement to contain any possible security threats.
Mr Dery said DISEC engaged the Regent to postpone the enskinment planned for February 9, 2017.
However, he said, on February 9, 2017, while the security agencies were in a precautionary move to send reinforcement from Yendi to Bimbilla, the Nanumba North DISEC reported that the Regent had performed the enskinment and the situation was getting out of hand.
Mr Dery said before REGSEC gave its recommendation for an extension of curfew to the Ministry of the Interior, there were reports of sporadic firing of gunshots and the discovery of two bodies.
He said he accordingly imposed a 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. curfew the same day to stem the escalation of violence and loss of lives.
The minister said on February 10, 2017 when REGSEC met to review the situation at Bimbilla, it was reported that seven more bodies had been found.
He said the death of an injured person sent from Bimbilla to the Tamale Teaching Hospital raised the death toll to 10, comprising six women, one man and three children all aged four.
He said 11 persons were injured, 21 houses were burnt down and 17 persons were arrested.
Peace and security
Mr Dery, therefore, said the government would not shirk its responsibility to ensure peace, security and safety at Bimbilla and other parts of the country.
He said on February 14, 2017, 210 police personnel, 69 military personnel and 23 investigators were deployed to ensure keep peace, security and safety.
“The team of investigators and operatives are on the ground working to find perpetrators of the recent violence, the resultant loss of lives and damage to property.
“In respect of security and safety in the Bimbilla area, the security personnel on the ground have been tasked to protect each person and also the homes of key stakeholders on both sides of their chieftaincy divide,” he said.
The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said REGSEC received early warning signals of the conflict, but they were lax in acting to avert it, asking; “What happened to early warning signals and early deployments?”
He asked the Ministry of the Interior to be interested in the succession plan at Bimbilla, because it was crucial to resolving the conflict.
Mr Iddrisu stressed the need for the government not to scratch the surface of the problem but deal with the root cause, saying; “Justice must be seen to be done.”
He assured the government of the commitment of the Minority in Parliament to collaborate with it to achieve lasting peace in Bimbilla.
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, commended the Ministry of the Interior for acting timeously in the aftermath of the tragedy.
He said chiefs were supposed to be the custodians of the country’s cultural practices, and stressed the need for peace to be restored at Bimbilla.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu asked those with relevant information on how to solve the conflict to provide it to the Minister of the Interior.