There is currently heavy military presence in the town of Buipe in the Central Gonja District following a decision of the youth to stage a protest against the paramount chief of the area, Buipewura Abdulai Jinapor II.
The heavily armed soldiers were deployed last night by the Savannah Regional Security Council after initial attempts to force the youth to cancel the planned street demonstration failed.
Reports say the security forces were given a strict order to deploy all means, including, the use of maximum force, to prevent the youth from taking to the streets and/or going near the palace of the Buipewura.
Tension in the area had begun early last month following the installation of a Fulani chief by the Buipewura.
The chief is identified as Braimah Musah Barry, a long-time and popular Fulani youth chief in Buipe.
The same chief in 2020 during the annual event by Tabital Pulaaku, a civil society organization focused on issues affecting Fulani communities, gifted the Fulani people 200 hectares of uninhabited land to build their homes and settle in the Buipe town.
Four plots of land were separately allocated in the same area for the construction of a school for Fulani children who are currently facing severe prejudice in some public schools in Buipe and around the savanna region.
The suburb is to be called Mende.
It was the enskinment of this yet-to-exist Fulani village that then brought about this tension.
First, the Gonjaland Youth Association, the official youth wing of the Gonja people, led by its public relations officer, Muftaw Borejinkrp began an all-out campaign to get the Buipewura to rescind his decision to allow the establishment of a complete Fulani settlement and free integration of the Fulani people in his traditional jurisdiction.
The youth engaged in radio discussions and wrote petitions to many outfits, including the Savanna Regional House of Chiefs and the Jakpa Palace in Damongo.
According to the youth, the Buipewura had no such authority to unilaterally offer part of the Gonjaland to Fulanis without the consent of the Gonjaland council headed by the Yagbonwura.
The youth even claimed the Savanna Regional House of Chiefs had crumbled and that members were no longer attending its meetings due to the action of the Buipewura.
They also said it was even a novelty that flies in the face of the Gonja tradition and culture to have a Fulani chief in a Gonja chief palace, although history has proven that Gonja has primordial relations with the Fulanis, talking about the story of how a Fulani mallam, Fati Murikpe, helped his friend Sumaila Ndewura Jakpa to conquer the present modern day Gonjaland.
After the media campaign failed, the youth on December 4, then proceeded to the royal mausoleum in the village of Mankuma, on the Bole -Sawla road, to invoke the spirits of past Gonja rulers to intervene.
It was at this point that Buipewura’s palace on the 6th of December came out to respond to the campaign by the youth for the first time.
The Neripewura of the Buipewura on his behalf brushed off the claims of the Gonjaland Youth Association and threatened the group’s spokesman.
The youth on December 7 responded immediately to threats from Buipewura’s palace:
“As we entreat Neripewura to desist from issuing further insinuations and threats, particularly to the Leadership of the Association, we also wish to call on the Youth of Gonjaland to remain calm, as Leadership continues to deal with the real issues that appear to bedevil our identity, custom, tradition, and sense of belonging.
We further wish to reassure our Members and the general public that, the real issues will be dealt with in the best interest of our land and tradition, as well as the respectable Chiefs and Youth”.
Then on the 17th, the embattled spokesman of the Gonjaland youth association announced his intention to resign from his position.
On this same day, the Savanna Regional Minister was in Buipe to speak to the youth who were mobilizing to stage a street protest against Buipewura.
The Buipewura also issued a statement warning the youth to keep their intended activity away from the vicinity of his palace.
“The Buipe Traditional Area has learned with serious concern the threat of invasion of the Buipewura’s palace by a youth group in Buipe led by one Issah Alhassan and Yahaya Razack who are natives of Buipe on a false and baseless allegation that the Buipewura has enskinned someone of Fulani extraction as the traditional chief of Mande, a suburb of Buipe.
For the avoidance of doubt, Buipewura wishes to place on record that nobody of Fulani extraction has been enskinned as a traditional chief contrary to the misinformation being peddled around.
On the contrary Mr. Alhassan Abdulai JB, a royal from the Chinchanko gate in Buipe was nominated and duly enskinned as Mandewura of Buipe on Friday 16th December 2022 at the Buipewura’s palace. The palace further wishes to place on record that all attempt by the palace to engage the said group to seek an amicable solution has proven futile with their leaders insisting all Fulanis in Buipe are ejected an action which flies in the face of the 1992 constitution.
While the Buipe palace recognizes the right to freedom of expression, we wish to state that Buipewura’s house is private property and thus must not be invaded by Mr. Issah and his group.
We wish to assure the public that the Buipe palace has not and will not threaten any citizen, be it Gonja or otherwise, Buipewura is an avid proponent of the rule of law. Residents of the Buipe Traditional Area have lived in harmony with other tribes and will continue to do so as far as Buipe is concerned”.
After the Regional Minister’s meeting failed to call off the planned protest, the security forces were deployed in Buipe to secure lives and properties in case of any eventuality.
Reports say the youth are also demanding the expulsion of Fulani people in the area. There are around 15,000 Fulanis across the Savanna region alone.
In response, the Fulani welfare group Tabital Pulaaku has called for calm and peaceful coexistence in Buipe.
In a statement issued by the group’s General Secretary, Alhaji Musah Barry, the group said the development in Buipe had been “noted with grave concern”
“The welfare group wishes to place on record that for decades, people of Fulani extraction have coexisted peacefully and harmoniously with our Gonja brothers and sisters in the Buipe traditional area and across Gonjaland without any conflict or infractions. We also wish to assure you that it is never the intention of the Fulani community in Buipe to appropriate any land or usurp the well-tested traditional structures of the good people of Gonjaland. To the best of our knowledge, we only have a Fulani chief in Buipe to coordinate the activities of the Fulanis just as other tribes have chiefs in Accra, Kumasi, Techiman, etc. Indeed no Fulani has been enskinned as a traditional Gonja chief neither has any Fulani been enskinned as ruler of any town. We will continue to employ all appropriate and peaceful avenues toward a peaceful resolution of this impasse”.