President John Kufuor has declared a state of emergency in the Dagbon area, of the country's Northern Region, following an apparently erroneous official announcement that the traditional chief had been killed in a dispute for power, the Ghana News Agency reported.
However, the counsel for the Adani faction in the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis, Ibrahim Mahama, told the agency that his chief, Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II, was still alive. He said hired assassins had mistakenly beheaded the wrong man.
Police and troops are enforcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew over the entire Dagbon traditional area, and have been ordered to break up the assembly of any groups deemed likely to threaten public order, GNA reported. Furthermore, the Northern Regional Security Committee banned Monday's annual Bugum (Fire) Festival at Yendi.
It is still unclear what actually caused the flare-up, the Accra Mail said in an editorial on Tuesday. However, tension has been mounting between the Andani and Abudu chieftaincy wings over the celebration of the Muslim Eid ul-Adha festival. The Anandi wing, which controls the symbolic instruments of the ruler, was said to be unhappy that the rival Abudu Gate celebrated the festival in the traditional way at the home of its regent, GNA reported. The tension finally erupted when factions of one wing attacked a man from the rival wing and destroyed his bicycle, the agency added. An undisclosed number of people were killed in the five-minute shoot out, GNA reported, quoting the district chief executive of Yendi, Mohammed Habibu Tijani.
Dagbon, the Accra Mail reported, "is one of the most important links" in the Mole-Dagbani Empire, which extends from Northern Ghana all the way to Burkina Faso. "It occupies very large tracts of the Northern Region and holds great potential for food production. Indeed, traditionally, the Dagombas have been associated with rice, maize, millet and yam farming," it added.
Despite this, it said, Dagbon towns and villages "are pathetic and impoverished". It added, "There are no good schools, no good health facilities, no good roads, no pipe borne water."