Mbu Peter, SDO of Ngoketunjia Division states administrative efforts to restore order in Balikumbat
What is the situation in Balikumbat after the alleged enthronement of a new Fon?
Perhaps I should say that it is regrettable because some individuals in the name of king makers took upon themselves to carry out the purported enthronement of a Fon in a private premises on October 8, 2006. Some of them were truly king makers but most who accompanied the king makers were not competent.
But they say Fon Doh soiled himself in a murder case and cannot be their Fon.
How many times do you know a Fon has killed in the North West? Is killing only registered when court judgment has been passed? In this case the court ruling reports that a Fon was involved in murder over two years ago. So what happened with Balikumbat tradition over this period? Is it only today they have realised that he was involved in murder? I think there is more to it and not just that a crime was committed. By the way, the 1977 chieftaincy decree does not indicate that when a Fon is involved is a crime he must be dethroned or be forced to abdicate. Legal dispositions cannot give room for such assumptions.
What has your administration effectively done about the situation?
Even before the purported enthronement we had fore seen it happening. We pre-empted it. We advised them because one of them called Doh Gangsin had signed documents dismissing the traditional council and appointed Quarter Heads. I summoned him to my office accompanied by other king makers. I warned him because even if he had to act as such he cannot do it all alone. It is expected to be a collegial decision. In another meeting after the purported enthronement, I summoned and warned those involved because it would encourage every other person to sit in his backyard and become a Fon. The administration does not condone actions that are contrary to tradition and contrary to the laws is force. That is why we have been using very soft but stern approach to enable them understands that their action cannot be accepted.
What has been their reaction after your warning?
I think that what they are attempting to do is to scare the Fon currently on the throne. Perhaps; I should let them know that Fon Doh Gah Gwanyin is on a cautionary bail which does not give him 100% freedom. So it is necessary that he should look out and be careful because he could be provoked to aggravate the situation and cause his bail to be withdrawn. That is the first analysis I make of it. The second is that there are many things that have not been going right in Balikumbat but you don't use the wrong opportunity to correct a situation that has no bearing. Their intention now according to me is that they want to have somebody else to manage traditional affairs and not Fon Doh Gah Gwanyin III but this situation must follow a process recognised first by tradition and then by the administration and the laws of the land. They are thinking of a regent, keeping the Fon away or cause villagers to stay away from attending traditional ceremonies. Against this background I advise them to keep sentiments away and chose reason as the way forward.
Where is the purported newly enthroned Fon?
I have not been seeing him. I summoned him to explain why he allowed his premises to be used for actions that were contrary to a prefectural order banning meetings in Balikumbat. He failed to come and so he is already at fault with the administration. I am still waiting for him and if he does not turn up, then we shall take the appropriate decision. However; it is clear as at now that no activity is going on in his premises because it has been banned and who ever attempts to disrespect the ban will be treated as a common criminal.