Source: Daily Graphic Ghana - Controversy has rocked the Bolgatanga Skin as two persons have been enskinned at two separate ceremonies, both claiming legitimacy to the title of Bolga Naba.
Mr Raymond Alafia Abilba, 50, a lawyer by profession, was installed as the new Bolga Naba at a colourful ceremony in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region last Friday.
The ceremony attracted a large number of people including a delegation from the Asantehene, led by Otumfuo’s Nsumankwahene, Baffour Asabere Kogyawoasu Ababio III.
However, a day after the first enskinment, Naba Abeka Noge Buuri Maltinga, known in private life as Mr Joseph Apakre, was welcomed home, after his enskinment as Bolga Naba by the Nayiri, Naa Bohagu Mahami Abdulai Sheriga, at Nalerigu in the Northern Region.
He is a 35-year-old Sales Executive of the Ghana Cement Company Limited (GHACEM) in charge of the Northern and Upper East regions.
Hundreds of residents of Bolga thronged Naba Maltinga’s palace to catch a glimpse of him, amid drumming and dancing, while others went in buses, cars and on motorcycles to usher him into the Bolgatanga municipality.
Owing to recent disturbances in Bolgatanga, there was a combined team of police and military personnel patrolling the area, including the palace of Mr Raymond Alafia Abilba who was also installed Bolga Naba on Friday.
Both parties are claiming rightful accession to the skin, after the demise of the late Martin Abilba III in September 2013.
Mr Abilba, who is the first son of the late Bolga Naba, was installed as a regent in September 2014.
During his installation, Mr Abilba, speaking through his spokesperson, said he was happy the ceremony was successful.
He thanked the delegation from the Asantehene for witnessing the ceremony and granted them safe journey back to their respective homes.
The Nsumankwahene, for his part, advised residents and the royal families of Bolgatanga to bury their differences to help develop the area.
He stressed the need for the new Bolga Naba to respect his subjects and all those around him including his servants.
The Nsumankwahene equally entreated the elders and linguists of the Bolga Naba to be sincere to him and give him good counsel.
There are two factions in the Bolgatanga Chieftaincy matter. In all, there are seven families that constitute the Atulibabiisi clan as far as the Bolga skin is concerned.
However, while five out of the seven families are in support of Raymond Abilba, two are against his installation as a Bolga Naba and have reportedly thrown their weight behind Mr Nyaaba.
Reports further indicated that the two families in support of Mr Nyaaba went ahead and facilitated his installation as a Bolga Naba at Nalerigu in the Northern Region by the Nayiri.
The five families in favour of the new Bolga Naba are the Royal Apaseyelum, Agandaa, Akumbosco, Atulba-Tia and Adogma-Baa families of Atulibabiisi. The two who are not in favour are the Agbeere and Agawure families.
Another issue in the Bolgatanga chieftaincy matter has to do with who has the authority to enskin a Bolga Naba.
On February 17, 1988, the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs Judiciary Committee by its judgement in an appeal filed by the late Bolga Naba Martin Abilba III held that the Nayiri was not the authority to enskin a Bolga Naba. The judgement further held that there were two isolated occasions in which two chiefs of Bolgatanga were enskinned by the Nayiri, which was an aberration rather than the custom of the people of Bolgatanga who, since time immemorial, had chosen their chiefs through their "Elders and Headmen" now the senior divisional, divisional and sub-divisional chiefs.
A source at the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs said both parties had been served with the judgement regarding who had the authority to enskin chiefs in the Bolgatanga Traditional Area.
Meanwhile the Upper East Regional Police Command has also secured a High Court Order restraining or prohibiting Mr Apakre "from holding a public event to outdoor himself as Chief of Bolgatanga.”
A statement signed by the Upper East Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP), Mr Simon Afeku, stated that "the police deemed the intended action of Mr Apakre as not only unlawful and unacceptable but total disregard of the law which would lead to the breach of the peace in Bolgatanga and would not be countenanced."
However, Mr Asamannaba Bertrand, the Secretary to the rival Bolga Naba, Naba Maltinga (Mr Joseph Apakre), has dispelled rumours that there is tension in Bolgatanga.
According to him, as far as Naba Maltinga is concerned what is happening is just a misunderstanding between two brothers who are both fighting for their birthrights.
"People are rather heightening the tension; we are a peace-loving people. We will not do anything untoward, "he stressed.
The secretary further intimated that they would not resort to violence but would go through the legal processes, adding that the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs would have to come out to determine who was the legitimate chief of Bolgatanga.
Mr Bertrand, however, explained that looking at the history of the Bolgatanga Traditional Area, there were "eight chiefs, four of them were like herdsmen and another four were enskinned at Nalerigu, where there is a laid down custom and tradition to follow."
He intimated that they knew that going to the Nayiri for enskinment was the right thing to do, saying: "Anybody who feels that Naba Maltinga is not the legitimate chief of Bolgatanga should go to the appropriate place to seek redress."
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