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20.04.2005 Feature Article

The Stalled Dagbon Talks: The price of ‘Tactical Silence

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The news coming out of the talks on the Dagbon peace process has said that the talks have stalled over disagreement between the factions. The issue to me is not how it came to stall but whose fault is it that the talks reached a stalemate.

When I wrote the article 'Why Dagbon may split a second time in 800 years' I made reference to the need to look at the criminal aspect of the case. Many other institutions and people in Ghana have made similar calls. The truth of the mater is that Government has not done anything about this aspect of the case. For me, it is a tactic of this government to do nothing when it realises that the issue at stake is wrong, but it wants to have a good image regardless of its responsibility. For example the 'tactical silence' of Akuffo-Addo and his government on the Eyadema / Togo case and the Issa Mobila murder, they cant do anything because of 'tactical silence'.

It is my position that the Government is to blame for the stall in the Dagbon talks because the failed to call a spade a spade. To my mind if the Government had made it clear to the killers of the Ya-Na that it was criminal, then there would be no disagreement about the installation of the an Abudu Regent today. When have you read of coup plotters and rebels being allowed to install kings? The present stance of the Abudus about the installation of the regent and ascension to the power indicates that the Abudus wanted to hasten the demise of the Ya-Na to have a shot at the Nam. A criminal act of that nature would not usually be rewarded, but because the Government has rewarded it by the silence over the killings, and the reluctance to find the perpetrators, the Abudus have grown bold and are equating the status of the death of the late Ya-Na Muhamadu Abdulai to that of the murdered Ya-Na Yakubu Andani.

In terms of justice, this strange and disappointing, and I am more surprised to hear the Asantehene say that the case of Ya-Na Muhamadu Abdulai should 'not be swept under the carpet'(Ghanaweb, 13th April 2005). Well how then can the murder of a King and 40 others be swept under the carpet? I am disappointed with such an utterance from the Asantehene and the other chiefs because, each one of them would oppose the installation of the son of a person or family who would kill them and aspire to become Yogbonwura, Asantehene or Nayiri. If this is not true let us ask those 3 kings (who make up the Dagbon committee) what they feel about the murder and the current idea that the murderers want to have a king of their choice.

A reader of my first article on this issue wrote:

For starters, things have changed; what used to be acceptable in the past, like one tribe (or people, faction Asafo Company, or what have you) raiding another tribe, be it in Ghana, Borneo, or Papua New Guinea, for whatever reason, is no longer acceptable. Thus the perpetrators of the attack on the late Ya-Na's Palace cannot claim that it was an act of war – what they did is a criminal act, pure and simple.

In the old days, human sacrifices when a chief dies were acceptable; but for decades now, such conduct is prosecuted as a criminal act. Thus at a minimum, those who attacked the Palace, together with their conspirators and instigators should be brought before the criminal courts and prosecuted.

Please note that, such an act also safeguards Abudus, in that in future should Andanis attack a sitting Abudu, said Andanis shall also be prosecuted. Secondly, it is wrong, both in equity as well as in law for an Abudu to be enskinned at this time. Abudus cannot claim that any death is a death, and therefore it is their turn to occupy the Skin. If the sitting Ya-Na is murdered, that same Gate should provide the next Ya-Na; the offending Gate cannot profit from that Gate's wrongdoing, such as murder. This will certainly dissuade the non-sitting Gate from having any murderous designs on the sitting Ya-Na, something I respectfully submit, shall benefit both Gates in the long run.

But more importantly, it safeguards the sitting Ya-Na, be he from Abudu or Andani Gate. The last time, the attack involved bows and arrows, spears and machetes, with people actually storming the Palace. With modern technology, the next murder will require only ONE person, with a high powered rifle, over half a mile away from where the Ya-Na will be sitting in public; POW! And since any death is a death, the killer's Gate gets to have the next Ya-Na from that Gate. Note that with the internet, this scenario is not far fetched – one can sit in Atlanta, U.S.A. and hire an assassin from Ukraine to commit a murder in Yendi, all on the internet.

To extrapolate this scenario further, one can envisage a new Ya-Na every 4 or 6 months, or prospective Ya-Na's refusing to be enskinned to avoid being murdered. However, if the murderous Gate does not profit, in that the Gate of the murdered Ya-Na, provides the next Ya-Na, it will discourage any murderous cycle “

We are simply condoning murder and strengthening its use in acquiring traditional power. It is a shame that the Abudus are growing bold because they know they have support of a Government of Ghana, which has no principles or substituted their principles with 'tactical silence'. Well these people who make-up the current NPP administration are used to tactical silence and could not say anything in the 1980s when Rawlings silenced everyone. They were all sheltering in their UK and homes, waiting to come and throw dirt at Ghanaians with their corrupt ways. Prof. Adu Boahene had to save us all and now they claim to be brave people. One day Ghanaians will also substitute this Government's history and unpleasant achievements with 'tactical silence'.

Imagine that Akwasi Agyeman had hired someone to kill the Asantehene because he was denied the chance to become Asantehene, would anybody ask that his children/ associates be considered for the process of the selecting the next Asantehene? God Forbid… but can happen to any King in Ghana. My position is that Government can always hold people accountable for not doing their job, especially if that impacts negatively on the rest of the country. The work of the police and the other services in Yendi is a case in point where their inefficiency is responsible for the current dilemma in which the Dagbon committee and Dagbon find themselves. This was a government that had been on the sidelines for 8 years and probably had ideas of what to do to bring progress to each corner of Ghana. Instead (I presume) it got caught up in a mess created by a lawless bunch of people, with possible link to government at the local level. But the Government needed to show honest leadership and strength. My expectation is that these agencies at the local level should have been held accountable. None of the police officers in charge of the Yendi Station has been held accountable for their inefficiency. None of those at the Ghana Telecom and Electricity Corporation offices in Yendi has been held accountable for their failure to provide services during the violence.

It is clear that this Government failed to show leadership and strength based on principle of law, but rather allowed narrow self-interest to cloud their judgement. What do members and ministers of this government really tell their God when they go to pray in their churches and mosques? 'Oh God forgive me for not speaking against the brutality but make me rich and admit me to your kingdom'. I will be surprised if God agreed to admit such Ministers to his kingdom. If Christ will bring back the dead to life and these ministers are denying murdered persons the justice they deserve through their 'tactical silence', how can God admit them to his Kingdom?

If this is the type of Government we have for a 21st century Ghana, God protect us. In America anyone who fails to do his duty to help Government keep the peace will regret it. The blame on the Government, which some of us Ghanaians are holding now, would not have occurred if the Police, Telecom etc did their job for which the government pays them. It is for this reason the government must let these agencies pay for their inefficiency. So what is the government waiting for by letting them go free? May be it was aprt of a grand paln? Remember that the minister of Interior said shortly before the Ya-Na's death was announced that nothing was happening Yendi. Does it not strike anyone why a whole DIVISIONAL POLICE STATION (Yendi takes care of several police districts) did not inform the interior minister that there was fighting in Yendi? They did not aks for help from Tamale or Kumasi for 3 days? If the interior minister did not know of any fighting in Yendi, who else should know? Well, if the Wuaku commission said the Ya-Na died in War, then it was a war that did not occur because the Interior minister (who comes from Yendi) did not know about it.

The whole of Dagbon and even the rest of Ghana are suffering because of thisb inefficiency. Look at the amount of money we are spending on the security situation in Dagbon, which could have provided better health services. On the other hand who knows whether the Interior Minister was not really informed? May be it was another 'tactical silence'.

A Shame on the rule of Law and the Governmental process in Ghana.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Dozie Malya
Dozie Malya, © 2005

The author has 3 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: DozieMalya

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