… two factions arming themselves
Bloodshed will soon take place in Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti Region, if a chieftaincy dispute between two factions of the Builsa (wrongfully called 'Kanjargas') community in the city is not quickly resolved by a sub-chief of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Public Agenda's investigations have revealed.
The dispute came about when Abdul Karimu Anyingosuk, a son of the Builsa community chief who died 22-years-ago, was enskinned by the Mamprusi headman, Ibrahim Musah, in Kumasi after elders of the Builsa community decided to elect a new chief.
According to reliable sources, since it is not the customary norm and usage of the Builsa people in the Upper East Region to have a Mamprusi chief enskin their chiefs, the elders reported the matter to the Manhyia Police Station and Nana Asabre, Nsumankwahene of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. The Nsumankwahene is responsible for the affairs of the zongos and settler communities in Kumasi.
Karimu Anyingosuk was installed by Ibrahim Musah on February 9 this year and the case was immediately reported to Nana Asabre who summoned the Mamprusi headman and charged him four sheep, which was later reduced to two, for the violation of chieftaincy tradition and custom. But Musah refused to offer the two sheep while Karimu, with the help and recognition of the headman and Alhaji Imoro Farouk Said, Sariki Zongo of the Hausa, paraded himself as Builsa chief in Kumasi.
Despite the Police and Nsumankwahene warning Karimu not to present himself as Builsa chief, he continued to carry himself about as such without any sanctions allegedly because he is a former bodyguard and friend of the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Sarpong, who supports and protects him.
In May, when the Asantehene's 15th anniversary celebrations were climaxed, Ibrahim Musah introduced Karimu to Paul Afoko, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairman and a Builsa himself, and Naa Professor John Nabila, President of National House of Chiefs, as the Builsa chief in Kumasi. Our sources said Nana Asabre saw Karimu at the ceremony and the Builsa elders also reported his conduct to the Nsumankwahene, but Nana Asabre did not take any action against him and the Mamprusi headman.
Tension rose to a high pitch in the Builsa community on July 28 when Karimu defied the orders of the Police not to present himself at 'gangara,' the ceremony held on the day of Eid ul Fitr at the central mosque in Kumasi to mark the end of the Muslim month of fasting, and held himself up as the Builsa chief. At that ceremony, Nana Asabre also saw him but did not do anything, the sources revealed. This incensed some Builsa people, but their elders calmed them down and reported Karimu to the Police.
On July 31, the Police allegedly arrested Karimu, an ex-convict, on the instructions of DCOP Nathan Kofi Boakye, the Ashanti Regional Police Commander. When Public Agenda contacted one Peter, the regional crime officer, he said Karimu was asked to write a caution statement with regard to offensive conduct, adding that “we are still investigating the case and send it to the Attorney-General.”
Our sources say the delay on the part of Nana Asabre to settle the dispute has resulted in persons belonging to the Karimu Anyingosuk faction and another group interested in contesting the chieftain title secretly arming themselves and waiting for the last straw that would break the camel's back to strike. In a Public Agenda phone interview, Nana Asabre, however, denied the allegation that he was delaying the adjudication of the dispute. “He [Karimu] is not Builsa chief. Why should I delay the case? I want to involve the Zongo chiefs,” he stated categorically.
Nana Asabre said the failure of the Mamprusi headman to offer the two sheep and inability of himself, the Hausa Sariki Zongo and the Council of Zongo Chiefs to arrive at a consensus on the case was stalling the dispute. When asked what sanctions he has exerted on the Mamprusi headman for disobeying his edict, he evaded the question.
When he was further queried when he would settle the dispute to avert a looming bloody conflict, he answered that he would meet with the various parties and the Zongo chiefs on Thursday so that they could together find the solution to the chieftaincy problem. Nana Asabre emphasised that it was improper for Sariki Zongo to support and recognise Karimu as Builsa chief. “It is wrong for him to support him. He represents the Hausa, not Builsa people. He is on the wrong side.”
The President of the Council of Zongo Chiefs, Akanbong Musah, told this paper that the Builsa community had met to vote for a chief as the Paramount Chief of the Builsa Traditional Area, Naba Zagsuk Azantilow II, himself was elected through voting. But Karimu's and Musah's illegal action stalled the process. When Naba Azantilow II was contacted on phone, he declared: “I have not done any enskinment. How can I recognise him [Karimu] as chief? That is not the procedure.”
One prominent Builsa elder told this paper that the delay in settling the dispute so that the community can elect a chief as per customary law could cause bloodshed. “All these are happening behind the back of the Asantehene because the Nsuamnkwahene is in charge of Zongo affairs. We appeal to the Asantehene to intervene to prevent possible mayhem in his kingdom,” he stated.
On October 31, 1935, Builsa people wrote a letter to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Agyeman Prempeh II, stating that they do not owe allegiance to any chief in Kumasi; and then elected one Bukari Kanjarga as their chief. Since then, the Builsa community has been electing its chief, with the Paramount Chief or his envoy enskinning the person formally as chief.