With preparations already underway for the funeral of the late Na Mahamadu Abdulai IV, disagreement has arisen between the Abdulai and Andani gates in the Dagbon Chieftaincy affair over a document currently circulating in Yendi.
While the Regent of Dagbon, Kampakuya Naa Yakubu Abdulai, is questioning the authenticity of the document which is said to emanate from the Otumfuo Committee of Eminent Chiefs, the Abudu gate is quoting it to support its stand of performing the funeral at the Gbewaa Palace.
In a statement issued in Yendi over the weekend, Naa Abdulai said the document was capable of inciting people to create violence in the area.
Naa Abdulai's statement was issued on the same day the Abudu gate issued another statement which entreated the government to call to order certain individuals the gate claimed were intent on fomenting trouble in the area during the performance of the late Na Mahamadu Abdulai IV's funeral.
Sources said the funeral for Na Abdulai was scheduled to be performed sometime in December 2007, and was the reason for the Abudu statement that "we equally believe that we can perform the funeral without much government security presence; the Abudu and Andani families both need to have sober reflections and to allow for the spirit of compromise, justice and fair play to help us in our quest to restore and preserve Dagbon custom".
Both sides of the debate base their stand on a document headed "Final Peace Agreement" and said to have been issued by the Eminent Chiefs made up of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II; the Yagbonwura, Doshie Bawa; and the Nayiri, Mahama Abdulai, Naa Bohugu.
While the Abudus draw from it the mandate to organise the funeral of the late Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV at the Gbewaa Palace, Regent Kampakuya, Naa Yakubu Abdulai, said reports reaching him indicated that there was some outward expression of disaffection among the people of Dagbon arising from the contents of the document.
He cited two portions of the document which he said convinced him that it could not have come from such respected Eminent Chiefs.
He explained that the Eminent Chiefs would not allow the situation in which a unitary Dagbon Kingdom would have two palaces (old and new) occupied by two regents (regent of Dagbon and regent of his father) at the same time.
He said the Eminent Chiefs knew that no custom, especially no Dagbon custom, would allow the occupation of two palaces by two different regents or chiefs of one kingdom at the same time under any condition.
He further said that no external body could direct the rightful chief of Dagbon on how to govern his kingdom as long as he was within Dagbon custom and national law.
Naa Abdulai said the Eminent Chiefs would not also advocate the selection and enskinment of a Ya Naa by persons who did not qualify by custom to do so and thereby create a cycle of litigation and eventual violence.
He said he was, therefore, fortified in his belief in the non authenticity of the document because it was incompatible with the known mandate of the eminent chiefs.
The mandate of the Otumfuo Committee, he explained, was to establish how best all the necessary customary rites could be performed before an appropriate date for the burial of Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II was fixed by the traditional authorities in Dagbon.
He said the second mandate was to mediate for reconciliation between the Abudulai and Andani royal families and third to advise the government on the customary procedure to be pursued to achieve a lasting .peace within Dagbon state in particular and Ghana as a whole.
Naa Abdulai, therefore, appealed to all citizens of Dagbon to take time and study any document which may come into their possession before allowing themselves to be excited or incited by its contents.
Stating the position of the Abudu gate at a press conference in Yendi, the Secretary to the Abudu family said it was important to state the position of the Abudu family regarding recent developments in the Dagbon chieftaincy issue.
Of critical concern to both parties was the performance of the final funeral rites of Na Mahamadu Abdulai at the Gbewaa Palace.
Mr Iddrisu observed that "the attitude of the Andani leadership and of recent his children, widows and even some members of the press regarding the performance of the funeral of Na Mahamadu, is not the best".
"We entreat our Andani cousins to come join us bid farewell to the Dagbon King, for we shall always be there for them and for Dagbon," he further said.
He cautioned against "those individuals who hide behind the name of the Andani family to "issue empty and sometimes serious threats" to cause confusion in Dagbon, as well as scare officialdom to manipulate justice and fairness to their advantage.
"Let it be said here and now that the Committee of Eminent Chiefs' duty is to sort out the confusion regarding Dagbon custom and to return it to normalcy," the secretary stressed.
Mr Iddrisu expressed regret and surprise that "the very road map from which the Andani family has benefited is today found unacceptable and contrary to Dagbon custom".
He noted that the funeral of Na Abdulai would be performed in the Gbewaa Palace, pending the "green light from the Committee of Eminent Chiefs as a customary and legal necessity, come the due date scheduled for it".