Angry youth of Chanziegu in Kumbungu in the Northern Region, on Friday, besieged the Kumbungu Naa’s palace, protesting against a decision by the skin to block police from arresting a sub-chief who shot and killed another chief of the village during Thursday night’s celebration of the Fire Festival.
The Saha Naa of the village, Mumuni Haruna, 40, was pronounced dead from aggravated neck injuries at the Tamale Teaching Hospital after the Kumbungu Naa’s youth chief, Alhaji Iddrisu Sayibu (Zaachi), dramatically discharged an Ak47 assault rifle into the celebrants.
“Youth chief of Kumbungu pulled out AK 47 assault rifle and gave warning shot twice into the air as part of the celebration and while bringing the rifle down, the rifle went off, as a result, a discharged bullet from the rifle hit the neck of the deceased, Haruna, age about 40yrs and chief of Chenziegu, a village near Kumbungu,” said regional police spokesman DSP Mohammed Y. Tanko in a signed a circular on preliminary findings of the ongoing investigations.
The police said the suspect was on the run and efforts were underway to arrest him but the youth of the village and some eyewitnesses completely hold competing narrative and depiction of how the incident occurred and its aftermaths.
The youth rejected the explanation of the police and said, without providing any proof, the suspect deliberately targeted the victim and only used the celebration to cloak his motive, therefore must be arrested and prosecuted for murder.
In a rare show of outrage towards the Kumbungu paramountcy, the youth, a seething crowd, marched miles from their village to the district capital to storm the palace, demanding the suspect be released and handed over to the police.
In parts of the region, some criminal matters relating to tradition are mostly handled by chiefs, however, the youth of Chanziegu are accusing the Kumbungu Naa Abu Iddrisu II, of hiding the suspect from the police arrest.
The village has therefore refused to remove the deceased from the hospital morgue and will not bury the body, contrary to the tenet of Islam in burying a Muslim until the Kumbungu Naa releases his youth chief to police for prosecution.
The Kumbungu palace was not available for comments on the allegation of concealing the suspect but the police report indicates there is calm in the area.
The Bugum (fire) Festival is a pacification ceremony commonly celebrated annually by many ethnic tribes in the Northern Region.
The celebration is charged. Celebrants do not only hold long torches made of dry grass but cutlasses, swords, bows and arrows, yelling and dancing to ominous sounds of drums.
In recent years, the celebration has been the cause of many deaths in the region. Many people now turn to use the celebration to settle scores, compelling a renewed ban in many volatile hotspots such as Yendi, Bimbila, Kpatinga.