Police have confirmed that two persons were killed and nearly hundred houses and other properties burnt in renewed chieftaincy disturbances Sunday, January 14, between Gonjas and minority Tampulmas in the North Gonja district of Northern Region.
The victims; 45-year-old John Bikari and a 90-year-old woman were killed in a fierce raid on three Tampulma villages by heavily armed Gonja men allegedly from Daboya and Damongo.
The attack begun at dawn on a community called Dissah, where at least 35 houses were burnt down completely, and, despite the presence of armed military in the area, spread freely to Nabiangu and Saligu where police found the two bodies with gunshot and fire injuries.
Police said the attack came after a confrontation Saturday triggered by refusal of the Tampulmas to allow some suspicious Gonja youth to exact royalties, in form of cattle, from a group Fulani herdsmen living in the area.
“Information received further indicated that what brought about this disturbance was that the Daboyawura(chief of Daboya) sent some men to the area and those men were allegedly attack by the Tampulmas and Gonjas from Daboya and Damongo also organised to the place and attacked the villages,” regional spokesman for the Police ASP Mohammed Yussif Tanko told reporters.
However, Starr News investigation has uncovered what appears as like a real motive behind the deadly aggression against the Tampulmas by the Gonjas who had threatened ethnic cleansing last year when tensions over creation of a paramountcy spurred up.
A Tampulma elder in Ligbinsi alleged that the attack had been planned for a very long-time and that the invasion of their territories to collect royalties was just being used as a convenient lightening rod.
He explained that Gonjas are attacking Tampulmas for declaring intent not to be part of a new region with the Gonjas in the event of creation despite living in a Gonjaland.
A news conference was to be held on Saturday to officially declare the intention but coincidentally dozen of armed Gonjas from the wasipe palace in Daboya stormed the area on motorbikes to “take taxes” from the hapless Tampulmas.
In Ghana, local assembly authorities representing central government are the only legitimate body to ask for taxes from residents. Chiefs do not have right under the constitution to forcibly exact obligations from a section of their subjects.
“We the Tampulmas decided that once we having loggerheads with them (Gonjas), if we are part of their region, definitely we will fight and we don’t want to fight, so therefore if they are curving Gonjas out of the old region, why not be part of the old region or be part of the new region with the Mamprusi because some of the Tampulmas are mixed with the Mamprusi.
“If we are part of the Gonjas, it means we the Tampulmas will not be many and united in the Gonja region and already some of the Tampulmas are part of upper West; so it means that we will be scattered all over in the region. So we said that let’s all go to the Mamprugu region so that we can be added and we can be united.
“When the Gonjas heard this, they did not come to tell us – we have heard that you want to be part of Mamprugu region. Even if they did not want us to be part of Mamprugu region, the right thing is to approach us or call us and find if it is true and why but they did not do that. So the week before this one, the Gonjas went to Mankarigu and called the people but the people told them they are Tampulmas and not Gonjas and that they could not attend to any stranger coming into the area to call them for a meeting, and they (Gonjas) told them to prepare for war for refusing to attend the meeting,” Mr. Bugtilan Muniru, a spokesman for the Tampulmas told StarrNews.
Sporadic tensions have broken out over the years following the refusal to recognise the Tampulmas and create a paramount traditional head to settle minor dispute without having to be heard a Gonja chief in Daboya who is totally ignorant about the customs and traditions of the Tampulma tribe.
The Gonja ethnic group in the region has been ruthlessly desperate in their quest for new region despite a strong admonition by a subchief in the Gonjaland that a new region for the Gonjas could be another chieftaincy hotspot.
Source: Ghana/StarrFMonline.com/Eliasu Tanko