Feuding factions in the nine-year-old violent conflict over the rulership of Bunkpurugu in the North East Region have fulfilled their pledge to bury the hatchet and cease hostilities after holding a joint traditional ritual to demonstrate their resolve to end the bloodshed three years ago.
On March 18, 2016, the Jafouk and Jamong gates — who had been battling it out for the occupation of the Bunkpurugu skin — carried out the traditional “blood burial” ritual to bring an end to the nine-year dispute and to cleanse the land for lasting peace.
Life in the town has since returned to normal as residents go about their daily activities peacefully without the fear and restrictions that characterised the near decade of communal attrition, the Daily Graphic observed during a visit to the town last week.
Following the restoration of calm, some residents and workers, who fled the town to Togo and neighbouring areas for safety, have returned to begin a new life.
The enduring curfew — now running from 8pm to 6 am — is perhaps the only reminder of the turbulence that rocked the area recently.
The “blood burial” is a time-tested traditional rite of the Bimobas that signifies the attainment of peace in difficult situations.
On the occasion of the smoking of the peace pipe in Bunkpurugu, both factions brought livestock — sheep and cattle — killed and buried them.
Leaders of the factions then invoked curses on anyone who would defy the gods and spirits of their ancestors by going back to fight.
After that, the two groups drank pito from the same pot and also cooked the liver and intestines of the animals and ate together.
For nine years, the two factions fought each other over who was qualified to be the paramount chief of Bunkpurugu.
The protracted chieftaincy dispute inflicted injuries, caused deaths and forced a mass exodus of residents, especially non-indigenes.
The Paramount Chief of Bunkpurugu Traditional Area, Naba Alhaji Abuba Nasinmong, told the Daily Graphic that since the “blood burial” ceremony, both factions had reconciled and were charting a common cause for the development of the area.
“We are happy for the peace enjoyed in the town. All of us came together and said we have to let peace to reign, and it has happened. Both sides have reconciled so far and we are living together peacefully,” he said.
He appealed to potential investors to discard the perception about the town occasioned by the conflict, insisting that “the area is very peaceful so investors and business people should come and do business; we will support them”.
He appealed to the government to ensure that the conflict-ravaged town was developed to improve the lives of the people.
The North East Regional Minister, Mr Solomon Boar, who is the Member of Parliament for the Bunkpurugu/Nakpanduri Constituency, told the
Daily Graphic that the government was on course to bring massive development to the area to turn the fortunes of the people around.
He said the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) was keenly monitoring and picking security intelligence on the ground, and at the appropriate time it would recommend to the Interior Ministry for possible lifting of the curfew.
Some residents told the Daily Graphic that the conflict had a toll on their lives and they were not ready to go back to the past.
“Nobody is ready for the past again because we suffered a lot. During the conflict, we couldn’t go to the farm like we are doing today so we say never again,” Mr Jagang Jatong, a resident said.
Another resident, Mr Larbik Thompson, who is a national service person, said the youth of the area who were leading the war front were now back to their senses and had vowed not to allow themselves to be used for unlawful acts again.