Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Drama At Ya Na Trial



Accused persons under police escort.

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday September 30, 2010
The proceedings of the Wuaku Commission, the body set up by President Kufuor to investigate the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon in 2002 continues to raise questions about the credibility and integrity of witnesses testifying in the trial of 15 persons accused of killing the king and some of his elders.

The denial of testimonies under oath at the Wuaku Commission including some of the statements given to the police at the time continues to be a feature of the Prosecution Witnesses’ (PWs) evidence in the current trial.

They are even denying some of the statement they have given to the police this year in connection with the current trial.

Since trial commenced, five witnesses have appeared before the Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal to give evidence on events in Yendi in 2002 but such testimonies are far at variance with their testimonies the same witnesses gave at.

When defense counsel, Phillip Addison confronts them on such events by reading excerpts of the commission’s proceedings some of them could be seen muffling laughter before giving particular response: “I did not say this at the Commission.

The commission wrote what they like. The commission did not write what I said well”. This response runs through their evidence.

The 15 men including the former District Chief Executive of Yendi have been charged for killing the Ya Na and some of his elders during the intra ethnic chieftaincy conflict in Dagbon between Abudus and Andanis in March 2002.

The accused are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former DCE as 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused respectively.

All 15 accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and murder and are currently on remand except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.

When he took his turn yesterday, the fifth Prosecution Witness (PW5) Yakubu Mahama aka Puu Mahama, a security man at Tamale VAT led in evidence by Rexford Wiredu, a Principal State Attorney told the court that he was shot at the thigh by an Abudu called Ayooma and not any of the 15 on trial on March 25, 2002 and was subsequently admitted at the Yendi Hospital and whilst there the DCE (A8) and some people he described as strangers came to visit the wounded and the DCE told him that it was because the Ya Na was not listening to advice that is why he has been killed.

But when counsel, Phillip Addison confronted Mahama during cross-examination with his testimony at the commission where he (witness) did not mention any the DCE as visiting the hospital on March 27, 2002, he said insisted he did mention the DCE.

Counsel: Your sole purpose today is to bare false witness against the DCE (A8)?

Witness: I am not here to tell lies about the DCE.

Counsel: I put it to you that what you are saying has never been said about A8 anywhere including Wuaku Commission?

Witness: I have said this to the police when I was giving my statement. I told Wuaku Commission about this.

Counsel: You never said so

Witness: I said it in Dagbani if they never wrote it then I do not know.

PW5 continued that whilst at the hospital the bodies of the dead were brought there in batches and he saw the body of the Ya Na even though a soldier attempted to prevent him from watching the king’s body but at Wuaku the same PW5 had said a policeman did not allow him to see the body because of the state in which he (PW5) was and this also contradicted evidence of the other witnesses that the Ya Na’s body wan burnt.

He had also told the court that a pastor he worked for in Yendi came for him from the hospital to Tamale to receive further treatment after the DCE’s threats contrary to evidence at Wuaku that it was his brother who came for him to Tamale.

Concluding his evidence earlier, the PW4 Alhassan Yakubu he stayed in a hotel with the other witnesses when he came down from Tamale to give his statement and admitted they conversed over issues but not on in this case saying “I spent four days in a hotel in Accra with the other witnesses. We cannot meet together without conversing but we did not discuss this case.”

He told the court that the Gbewaa Palace was his home but when probed further by counsel he backtracked and said he goes there frequently.

Counsel: When did you get to the palace?

Witness: I got there on the 26th of March, 2002.

Counsel: But at the Wuaku Commission you testified that you left the Yendi Secondary School and entered the place on March 27, 2002. Your evidence is at variance with what was said at the commission.

Witness: It is exactly what I said. They (Commission) did not write it well. They went and wrote my statement the way they want.

Counsel: Apart from the Ya Na and his wives and children, nobody stays in the palace
Witness: It is not true.

Counsel: Gbewaa Palace cannot be your house, I put it to you.
Witness: I agree to that.

PW4 further told the court that when he entered the palace he hid himself there until about 9am on March 27, 2002 when he came out and he saw Saibu (PW3), Abukari Amadu, Alhassan Andani, one Yakubu and Idris Mutawarki as well as other such as a man called Red all holding guns and firing at the Abudus, contrary to the evidence of Saibu (PW3) that he did not fire a gun even said he did not know how to handle a gun.

He had told the court on September 28, 2010 that when he entered the palace there were few Andanis but they were able to push the Abudus back by firing at them but just a day after, the same witness said there were a lot of people in the palace when he got there and could not recognize most of them.

At the commission PW4 said he had seen two photographers (Nyaa and Jaki) at the place where the Ya Na’s decapitated body was burnt but in this trial he said he saw only Nyaa but counsel put it to him that he had deliberately left out the name Jaki because he was an Andani to which he replied “I said I saw Nyaa and the commission wrote it the way they like.”

Sitting continues on October 4, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Witness drops bombshell at Ya Na trial



Accused entering a police van.

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 29, 2010
The Fourth Prosecution Witness (PW4) in the Ya Na Trial, Alhassan Yakubu aka Nat yesterday dropped a bombshell when he told a packed Fast Track High Court in Accra that it was Yidana Sugri (the man who was acquitted and discharged for killing the Ya Na) who held the severed hand of the Dagbon overlord and said he did not see any of the 15 accused persons currently on trial killing the Ya Na.

He insisted yesterday under cross-examination by counsel for the 15 accused Phillip Addison, that when he testified in the trial of Sugri and Iddrisu Janfo in 2003 he had told the court then presided over by Justice Yaw Apau currently with the Court of Appeal that it was Sugri who held the Ya Na’s severed hand but did not say he(Sugri) killed him neither did he see anybody use dormer machine to cut the head and hand of the Ya Na.

Counsel: Do you know Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Janfo?

Witness: I know them.

Counsel: Do you know they were charged, acquitted and discharged for killing the Ya Na?

Witness: I am aware.

Counsel: The allegation during the trial was that Yidana Sugri was the one who killed the Ya Na?

Witness: They said so.

Counsel: In this trial they say somebody else decapitated the Ya Na?

Witness: He (Sugri) was holding the severed hand of the Ya Na.

Counsel: Yet you testified in the trial that he (Sugri) killed the Ya Na

Witness: I said he was holding the severed hand of the Ya Na. I did not say he killed the Ya Na.

Counsel: You are not telling this court the truth?

Witness: What I am saying is what I said at the Wuaku Commission and they (Commission) wrote it in their own way.

Counsel: At the time you testified at both Wuaku and the Sugri trial, you did not say you saw the Ya Na being decapitated by anybody but you are trying to say so in this trial?

Witness: I did not see it. I heard the sound of a machine used in cutting woods. I did not see the person who was operating the machine.

Alhassan Yakubu, the PW4 who was led in evidence by Rexford Wiredu, Principal State Attorney was testifying in the case in which the 15 men including the former District Chief Executive of Yendi have been charged for killing the Ya Na and some of his elders during the intra ethnic chieftaincy conflict in Dagbon between Abudus and Andanis in March 2002.

The accused are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former DCE as 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused respectively.

All 15 accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and murder and are currently on remand except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.

Continuing his cross-examination, Alhassan Yakubu (PW4), a trader, had told the court in his evidence-in-chief that he was unemployed at the time the conflict started in Yendi but at the Wuaku Commission he said he was a student and repeated it in his statement to the police in the current trial but when pressed further he said “by that time I had completed school. The one who wrote my statement did not write it well.”

He said in his evidence-in-chief that he had gone to visit a friend called Abdul Aziz at Yendi Secondary School on March 25, 2002 when he heard gunshots and later saw people running from the town and was later told that the Abudus were attacking the Gbewaa Palace and being an Andani he feared for his life and spent the night hiding in the school.

But pointed to him that when he testified at the Wuaku Commission he had said at the school it was one of the masters who had advised the students including the witness to stay there because there was conflict in the Yendi town but PW4 insisted “Wuako Commission wrote what they wanted to write”.

He admitted that when he entered the palace on 26th March 2002 and the place came under gunfire attack from the Abudus the inmates of the palace who he said were not many were able to fired back to repel the attackers and shot at them until they (Abudus) started burning down the palace and they run to hide at the Katine (where they burry the Ya Nas) but later move to lie at a place where there were packed fire woods.

He claimed that whilst there he saw two of the accused persons dragging the Ya Na who also resisted them contradicting Imrana Saibu’s (PW3) evidence that he lied about 30 meters and saw two of the accused dragging the lifeless body of the Ya Na.

He also told the court that they were six including Saibu PW3 lying by the firewood contrary to the evidence of Saibu that he lied there alone and saw some of the accused persons using dormer machine to cut off the head and hand of the Ya Na.

Concluding his cross-examination Saibu (PW3) insisted that the Ya Na son asked him to bring the satellite dish to Yendi after it had been sent to Tamale from Wa but at Wuaku Commission he had said he was asked by a friend to come to Yendi to cart the dish away because the place was volatile and anything could happen to the dish.

Furthermore at Wuaku Commission the witness testified that whilst six of them lied down beside the firewood he could not get up to see what was happening because he had been shot was in pain and that it was one Amadu who would occasionally get up and watch and tell him what was happening contrary to his evidence in the current trial that he was alone and saw how some of the accused persons had cut the Ya Na’s head and hand with a machine and set fire to the body with and some taking photographs with the severed head in turns.

Counsel also said hospital records presented before the commission showed that Saibu was admitted at the Yendi Hospital on March 27, 2002 and discharged the next day on the 28th of March 2002 but he said under cross-examination in the current trial that he was in the hospital from Wednesday March 27, 2002 to Saturday March 30, 2002 insisting “the hospital is lying.”

At Wuaku Commission the witness had testified that he could not identify the prison officer he met after escaping from the palace because he was in pains and said it was one Thomas who could identify him (prison officer) but in this trial he said he could identify him.

Interestingly, anytime the witnesses were confronted with their testimony at the Wuako Commission they said one thing: “the commission wrote it the way they liked and even disputed some of the statements they gave to the police this year in connection with the trial.

Sitting continues today for PW4 to face further cross-examination.

Police grab NPP gurus...Over Atiwa




Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 29, 2010
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has invited three leading members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to the Police Headquarters in Accra to assist in the investigation of the ‘murder’ of three persons during the Atiwa by-election.

Those summoned are NPP national chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, aka Sir John, General Secretary of the party and Ms. Frances Asiam.

A pressure group, the Media Analyst Group, had petitioned the police over the claimed that the NPP gurus had stated on radio stations that some NDC officials had caused the death of some people during the recent Atiwa by-election.

The letter of invitation signed by P.K Agblor, Acting Director-General of CID with reference CI D/ER. 421/2010/5, states: “The Criminal Investigations Department has received a written complaint from the Chairman of the Media Analyst Group indicating that the National Chairman of the NPP Hon. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the General Secretary of the same party, Mr. Owusu Afriyie aka Sir John and Ms Frances Asiam, a ranking member of the party have accused the group of being responsible for the murder of some three unidentified persons at Atiwa during the recent by-election.

“You are therefore being requested to report to the Deputy Director General/CID on the 2nd Floor of the CID building on Friday October 1, 2010 at 1100 hours to assist in the investigation,” the letter said.

Political analysts are of the view that the police by inviting the NPP leaders are trying to balance the scales and pacify the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) whose National Chairman Dr. Kwabena Agyei was recently invited by the police for threatening to clean the judiciary with his infamous “several ways of killing a cat statement.”

The Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), a pressure group, had lodged a complaint at the Nima Police Station in Accra on September 9, seeking the arrest of the NDC National Chairman for making statements that sought to threaten the judiciary.

Ripples from that outburst which attracted a reaction from the association of judges and magistrates continue to feature in local politics.

Upon lodging the complaint, the police invited Dr. Adjei to the CID headquarters for questioning but he never showed up.

Immediately AFAG lodged the complaint, the Media Analyst Group, on September 15, 2010, also called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Paul Quaye, to effect the arrest of Jake, Sir John and Frances for allegedly making unsubstantiated reports which caused fear and panic during the Atiwa by-election.

The group had claimed that Frances Asiam was categorical in an interview that two people had died on the day of voting in the Atiwa by-election. This allegation later proved to be false when the police and hospital authorities spoke to the contrary.

The co-ordinator of the Media Analyst Group, Alfred Triddle, speaking to Peace FM, said the comment by Frances Asiam, which was subsequently echoed by Jake and Sir John, was very serious statement and needed police investigations.

Meanwhile, Frances says she has some funeral to attend during the weekend and would rather report to the police on Monday, while Sir John, according to sources, is yet to receive his invitation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I did not see Ya Na’s death - witness



Ya Na Yakubu Andani II was the overlord of Dagbon.

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 28, 2010
The third prosecution witness (PW3), Imrana Saibu in the Ya Na trial who claimed he was there and saw Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon being killed by the Abudus yesterday gave contradictory evidence before an Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal.

In his evidence-in-chief Saibu had told the packed court that when the main hall of the palace where the Ya Na was started burning he saw the king being pursued by the Abudu warriors and firing at him in the Gbewaa Palace but during cross-examination he said everybody at the palace run for his lives so he did not know what happened to the king but only saw two of the accused persons later dragging the king’s body.

“At the time I was jumping the wall to hide myself, the Ya Na was not dead but I saw two of his elders lying down. I did not know where the Ya Na was when I was jumping the wall.”

He also told the court in his evidence-in-chief that he was the first to jump a wall and entered the Katine (the place where the Ya Nas are buried) but in his evidence-in-chief the witness told the court that when he got there he saw one Nantongma, Alhassan Andani (Ya Na’s son), Abukari Amadu and other young men already hiding there.

The witness was testifying in the case in which 15 men including the former District Chief Executive of Yendi have been charged for killing the Ya Na and some of his elders during the intra ethnic chieftaincy conflict in Dagbon between Abudus and Andanis in March 2002.

The accused are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former DCE as 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused respectively.

All 15 accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and murder and are currently on remand except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.

Cross-examined by Phillip Addison, counsel for the accused Saibu, who is a nurse by profession contradicted his statement in the summary of evidence which stated that he had said the Ya Na ordered that women and children in the palace be evacuated when the fighting intensified saying “I did not see something like that. All that I told the police is what I have said here.

He said he did not know when Ziblim (PW2) was sent by the Ya Na but in his summary of evidence he said he was there when Ziblim was sent.

He denied that he had told the Wuaku Commission that Alhassan Andani who asked him to come to Yendi to evacuate the satellite dish due to the volatile situation in Yendi at the time insisting that he was rather asked to bring the equipment to Yendi.

Saibu who according to the prosecution was listed as PW6 but was brought in as PW3 further denied that they were in front of the palace under a baobab tree firing to push back the Abudus saying “I was not one of the warriors fighting to defend the Ya Na. I do not even know how to use a gun”, but admitted that the Ya Na also ordered them to fire back at the Abudus and that there were a lot of single barrel guns in the palace.

“You cannot sit in your house and be attacked and would not do anything about it. We also fired at the Abudus with our guns.”

He disagreed with counsel that they evacuated the palace when they realized that their armoury had caught fire insisting that there was no such armoury but later admitted there were single barrel guns in the palace saying “every palace in Ghana has guns. The Dagombas also manufacture guns.”

He again told the court that he saw the inmates in the palace firing at the Abudus and then changed quickly to say “I did not know who they were shooting at”.

He said he had not wronged any member of the Abudus for him to be a target but said he did not find it prudent to leave the palace when he knew he was not a member of the palace and when the fighting subsided explaining that “I feared I would be hit by stray bullets.”

He also insisted that a helicopter passed during the night when the fighting was going on and landed at an airstrip about half a mile from the palace but counsel put it to him that there was no such incident and even the airstrip is about four miles away from the palace.

He had told the commission that the firing stopped at 3pm on 26th March 2002 but in court yesterday he said the firing stopped on 6pm and again explained that “at the commission I said it stopped at 1pm and intensified at 3pm.”

He had said he could not leave the palace when the fighting subsided for fear of being hit by a stray bullet on March 26, 2002 but said on the 27th of March 2002 he had to leave amid firing.

At the commission the witness said he was hit by bullets on both legs but in the trial he said his buttocks was included and also said that his attackers did not follow up to kill him adding “I was lying on the floor when I saw A4 and A12 pulling the body of the Ya Na.”

When counsel put it to him that he did not mention Zakaria Forest (A7) at the commission as the person who had used the dormer machine to cut the Ya Na’s head and hand he said “I said it. May be the commission did not write it.”

After long and heated arguments about the authenticity of proceedings of the Wuaku Commission (set up by President JA Kufuor in 2002) that investigated the killing of the Ya Na, overlord of Dagbon and some of his elders finally admitted the proceedings into evidence.

The prosecution had insisted that the Attorney-Generals’ Department did not have a copy of the proceedings which are in four volumes and that what was being tendered was not authentic but defense counsel argued that once the court was searching for the truth they were willing to assist the court by providing the proceedings.

The judge in admitting the document said the defense has been able to comply with Section 162 (b) of the Evidence Decree (Act) and the prosecution had provided no document to contradict what defense counsel was seeking to tender in evidence.

Monday, September 27, 2010

POLY LECTURER IN ‘COPY CAT’ SCANDAL




Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday September 27, 2010
Ibrahim Zubairu, a lecturer at Accra Polytechnic is in hot waters over an alleged case of plagiarizing other people’s written article and presenting it as his own.

He had submitted an article titled “Long-run Strategic Capital Structure: An exploration of the linkage between strategic management and financial management” to the Pentvars Business Journal (Volume 7) for publication but the cover was blown when the editors discovered that almost everything in Mr. Zubairu’s article had been lifted verbatim from the Journal of Financial and Strategic Decisions Vol. 10 No. 1 (1997).

The original authors were Dev Prasad, Garry D. Burton and Andreas G. Merikas.

Strangely, Accra Polytechnic authorities have rewarded Zubairu with a three-year study leave with pay to go to the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom to pursue his Ph. D in Finance and Accounting.

Mr. Zubairu who stood to contest the NDC parliamentary seat for Agona West in the Central region, proudly presents at the end of the ‘borrowed’ article that he is a fellow member of the Institute of Financial Accountants UK, Academic member of the Association of International Accountants (AIA) and holds MBA Finance from Lincoln University alongside other credentials such as FFA, MBA Fin.; ACM and HND Acct.

He was suspended by Accra Polytechnic authorities for one month without salary from Monday August 2, 2010 to Tuesday August 31, 2010 over the unpalatable academic issue.

However, immediately Zubairu of the Accountancy Department returned from suspension the same Polytechnic authorities ‘rewarded’ him with a three-year study leave with pay to pursue his doctorate degree starting from October 1, 2010 when the serious offence of plagiarism has not yet been dealt with.

When a committee was set up by the polytechnic to investigate Mr. Zubairu’s article it was discovered that he had presented fraudulent and bogus information and also made reference to the construction of a non-existent processing plant called Polymer Processing Plant which he said has a capacity to produce 150, 000 tonnes per annum.

According to a source Mr. Zubairu who has been appointed by President Mills as board member of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) lied to the committee investigating him that he obtained permission from the authors of the original article to use their material but the authors have since denied it and said they do not know the disappointed MP.

The suspension letter a copy of which Daily Guide has in its possession stated: “The Rector, having considered the report of the committee which was set up to investigate a case of plagiarism leveled against you, has suspended you from the Polytechnic for one (1) month beginning from Monday August 2, 2010, to Tuesday August 31, 2010, during which period you will not be paid salary.”

The letter also said Mr. Zubairu would not be considered for promotion for the next three calendar years and advised him to “appraise the danger to your career, of indulging in plagiarism whilst doing any future research work, since any such acts will ruin your career for good.”

The letter said the Polytechnic had taken serious view of the offence since plagiarism is a serious offence under the law, and it undermines the whole ethics of arriving at certainty of knowledge in the public domain by the process of peer review and publication.

The committee concluded in its report that “Ninety per cent of Mr. Zubairu’s article should be in quotation marks. It contains misleading information and parts of it are absurd. At present its impact is limited to those who have read it but in the future interested readership may develop in countries overseas and elsewhere in Ghana.”

“Thus steps should be taken to stop the spread and propagation of the falsehood contained in Mr. Zubairu’s article, quiet apart from the issue of plagiarism” the statement indicated.

When contacted Mr. Zubairu demanded to know the source of Daily Guide’s report and said he has never been suspended for indulging in plagiarism adding “I have not been suspended. I have been working. I even come to work on weekends.”
He then threatened, “You go ahead and publish anything and I will get my lawyers to deal with you.”

Plagiarism is a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else article or book and is presented as being your own work in the academia. It can also be defined as the unacknowledged use, as one's own, of work of another person, whether or not such work has been published.

STX deal not right – Samia



Samia Yaaba Nktumah is the only daughter of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first President.

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday September 27, 2010
Samia Nkrumah, the only daughter of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President says the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government’s STX housing deal “is not right” and adds “I would have voted against if I was in the country during its debate in Parliament.”

The controversial multi-billion housing deal between the government of Ghana and STX Korea which has generated heated public debate suffered a major setback last Monday when both parties failed to sign the final working agreement, unexplained legal difficulties.

However, when Samia the only MP of the Convention People’s Party’s (CPP) in the current Parliament appeared on Metro TV’s current affairs programme ‘Good Evening Ghana’ hosted by Paul Adom-Otchere, she said “I do not feel right about the whole deal because it could have been given to Ghanaian construction firms.”

“I would have voted against it if I were in the country then, because the whole deal is not right,” she said.

Samia who represent Jomoro Constituency in the Western Region was not happy that the government did not believe in the capacity of Ghanaian companies and also not engaging the local expertise in the execution of the deal.

She said “if the deal is awarded to a local company, it would go a long way to provide more employment which would reduce the rate of poverty in the country.”
She said the time has come for the government must stop depending on other countries for the nation’s development and concentrate on harnessing local expertise for nation building.

The deal between the government of Ghana and Korea will see a Korean firm, STX Group providing 200,000 housing units at a cost of $10 billion for Ghanaians particularly the security services.

Sources say the Koreans wanted to know how the money for the houses would be paid by the government of Ghana, with the changes in the earlier agreement where Ghana’s oil was used as collateral.

Signing of the deal has been put on hold after a closed-door meeting between officials of STX and Vice President John Dramani Mahama, as well as some top government officials including ministers of state.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that almost three hours after the media had set up their equipment in the well-decorated conference room of the Vice President’s waiting for the event, Deputy Minister of Information James Agyenim-Boateng, accompanied by John Jinapor, spokesperson for Vice President John Mahama, and Stanislav Xoese Dogbe, the embattled presidential aide, appeared and announced the cancellation of the programme.

Agyenim-Boateng had attributed the cancellation to “legal issues that could not be resolved immediately at the last meeting before the ceremony”.

“Certain legal issues cropped up at the eleventh hour and under the circumstances, we were compelled to cancel the signing until we receive advice from the Attorney-General’s Department where we have referred the issues to,” the Deputy Information Minister had told journalists.

Civil society condemn Kosmos toxic waste

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday September 25, 2010
ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES, civil society organizations and individuals have jointly condemned Kosmos Energy for spilling toxic waste into the sea and allegedly refusing to pay a fine imposed on it by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST).

Advocates contend that once the report of the committee that investigated the spillage of poisonous substances into the sea by Kosmos Energy concluded that it was caused by negligence and deferment of the preventive maintenance schedule by the company, the oil exploration firm did not need to drag its feet in paying the imposed fine.

The displeasure of environmental groups was contained in a statement issued in Takoradi. It was jointly signed by 14 environmental advocacy and civil society organizations individuals including WACAM under the title “Condemnation of Kosmos Energy for refusal to pay GH¢40 million and describing the Ghana government as lawless.”

It said, “we the under listed organisations and individuals wish to express our surprise, dismay and disappointment about media reports that Kosmos Energy had blatantly refused to pay the 40 million Ghana Cedi fine imposed on the company for negligently spilling pollutants into the sea in the course of its operations.”

“It has been reported in the media that the lawyers of Kosmos Energy, Messrs Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa and Ankomah had written to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to indicate that the 40 million Ghana Cedi fine imposed on Kosmos Energy by the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) for spilling toxic oil-based drilling mud on three occasions from December 2009 to May 2010 is ‘totally unlawful, unconstitutional and legally flawed”

The advocates said the lawyers for Kosmos’statement did not deny that the company spilled toxic substances into the sea but dwelt on weaknesses in the laws with respect to oil spillages as a basis for its position that the fine had no legal foundation adding, “the letter from Kosmos asked for the intervention of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to mediate decisively and bring this lawless procedure to an end.”

The release said further that the attorneys for Kosmos’ description of MEST’s investigative processes into the case and imposition of the fine as lawless amounts to an insult to the dignity of Ghanaians.

“In our opinion, Kosmos Energy is rather the lawless company which negligently spilled poisonous chemicals into the marine environment of Ghana on three occasions in five months and attempted to conceal the truth about the pollution and not the processes initiated by the Minister of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology who is required to protect the sovereignty of Ghana. Kosmos Energy wants to be a law unto itself and this tendency if not checked, would serve as motivation for many companies to follow the bad examples of Kosmos Energy and some companies in the extractive sector.”

Besides WACAM those who signed the release include the Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), Centre for Labour Rights and Community Service (CLARCS), Youth for Action Ghana, Dialogue and Advocacy for Good Governance of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA).

The rest are Foundation for Female Photo Journalists (FFP), Voices for Tomorrow Leaders Foundation (VOTOLEAF), Teberebie Concerned Farmers Association, Youth and Concerned Citizens’ Movement of Bonyere, Klo-Begoro Farmers Association, Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea, Osagyefo Network for Rural Development (OSNERD) and Prof. Atta Britwum.

Friday, September 24, 2010

AFAG Turns Heat On Police




Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday September 24, 2010
The Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), a pressure group has made enquiries at the Ghana Police Service about the status of the complaint they filed against the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei following his infamous outburst against the judiciary.

In a letter headlined “Enquiry on the status AFAG’s Report on Dr Kwabena Adjei” signed by Arnold Boateng, General Secretary of AFAG said “We write to enquire about the status of the case the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), made on the 9th of September, 2010 in relation to certain statements made by the said person.”

“It is nearly two weeks since our report was made, yet we have had no official correspondence whatsoever from you. It is the hope of AFAG that, you would furnish us with the official status of the case to enable us to make inputs and take the necessary actions to bring home our aim of ensuring the independence of the judiciary.”

The grouping, sought the arrest of the NDC National Chairman, when they lodged formal complaint at Nima Police Station in Accra on September 9, 2010.
Upon lodging the complaint, the police invited Dr. Adjei to the CID headquarters for questioning.

AFAG is seeking a police investigation into the outburst because according to the Director of Operations of the AFAG, Samuel Awuku “we find the outburst subversive and we are seeking a full investigation into it.”

The outburst, AFAG had maintained, contributed to Justice Anthony Oppong’s recuse from the Ya Na murder trial and a general instilling of fear and panic among members of the bench.

The mission to the Nima Police Station, according to AFAG, was not without drama when it appeared according to them a certain tint of unusualness in the procedure.
AFAG was among many groups and individuals who expressed disgust at the outburst of Dr. Kwabena Adjei, NDC National Chairman when he took on the judiciary with his infamous “many ways of killing a cat”.

He was provoked by the acquittal and discharge of Tarzan and Kwadwo Mpiani in the Ghana@50 celebration trial and other cases involving former government officials during the tenure of President John Agyekum Kufuor.

Dr. Adjei, whose political antecedents are rooted in the revolutionary PNDC junta, threatened the judiciary with a purge if members of this arm of government do not embark upon such a purging programme themselves.

His reference to the many options available for killing the cat when asked how he was going to purge the judiciary was what brought about public outcry.

Those who condemned him did soon the basis that the outburst emanating especially from a man who was associated with the junta under whose tenure three high court judges were abducted and murdered under mysterious circumstances sent chilling reminders to Ghanaians with a sense of that piece of history.

He refused to apologize, defending himself however that he was misquoted even as the leader of the party, President Mills, pledged his support for the independence of the judiciary, a pledge which cynics accepted with a pinch of salt.

Ripples from that infamous outburst which attracted a reaction from the usually recluse association of judges and magistrates continue to feature in local politics.

Leave judges alone…Justice Kludze tells politicians



Prof. Justice Kludze is a retired Supreme Court judge in Ghana

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday September 23, 2010
Professor Justice Paaku Kludze, a retired Supreme Court judge has lashed out at both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for inciting their supporters to throng the law courts to disturb and threaten the judiciary whenever any of their leading members are put on trial.

“It is a very dangerous trend to malign the whole judiciary because of disapproval of certain decisions. That is the way to anarchy. If cases are not submitted to judicial determination, should we use clubs, sticks, machetes, cutlasses and guns or other lethal weapons to resolve our dispute? There would be a jungle out there.”

Prof. Kludze was speaking at a one-day workshop in Accra yesterday organized by organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a think tank on the general theme “The survival of multi party democracy and the politics of accommodation and tolerance.”

The retired Supreme Court judge who spoke on the topic “Ensuring justice and fairness in conflict resolution”, said “the judiciary is our bulwark against tyranny and arbitrary rule. Those who today would be tempted to seek to interfere with the judiciary must be reminded that they may some day, perhaps not in the too distant future, seek refuge in the independence and integrity of the judiciary for the vindication of their rights and protection of their liberties.”

He said undue interference in the work of the judiciary especially from the executive arm of government is assuming an alarming proportion in the current democratic dispensation adding “there is a creeping culture usually from the executive arm of government putting undue pressure on the judiciary to pander to their wishes”.

He said the executive or other forces do not appear to be successful in muzzling the judiciary because “the judiciary has been unrelenting.”

Prof. Kludze said in any mature democracy the government does not always win all cases it presents before the courts but in the case of developing democracies such as Ghana the government’s supporters think they must win everything and when that does not happen “they try to terrorize and pressurize presiding judges with the sole aim of instilling fear in them.”

“The supporters wear red arm bands, chanting war songs even in the precincts of the courts and openly intimidate our judges. I must say that these are all cowardly acts because the judges have so far been resilient. It is in the interest of our democracy to halt these violent acts.”

The law professor said anytime a judge declines to sit on a particular case does not mean that the judge in question is bias but rather it is done to ensure that the sanctity of judicial administration is maintained.

He said the threat on the judiciary is undermining the country’s democracy and also scares potential investors.

Professor Ken Agyeman Attafuah, a renowned criminologist who spoke on the topic “Political tolerance, political inclusivity and political accommodation as essential elements of multi-party democracy” bemoaned the vindictive nature of the country’s political discourse saying “the rights of political opponents should not change hands simply because political power has changed hands.

He said “we cannot continue to indulge in the cycle of political vendetta and expect that our democracy will develop to the stage that we all want it to be.”

Treating the topic “Agreeing to disagree in the interest of Ghana: A core duty of politicians, media and civil society”, Mrs. Lydia Apori Nkansah a senior lecturer at GIMPA said the bickering and animosity that has characterized the country’s democratic dispensation resulting in tension and negative polarization.

Upper West women build capacity




Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday september 23, 2010
A WORKSHOP aimed at promoting women’s participation in leadership, resource mobilization and natural resource management in the Upper West Region has ended in Wa, the regional capital with a call on government and civil society organizations to intensify efforts to get more women to be part of the development process.

The five-days training programme was organized by the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD) with sponsorship from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS)-about 70 women benefited from the training.

Addressing the participants, Naa Seidu Braimah, member of the Council of State reiterated the need for women to be recognized in decision making saying “any society that is disciplined has its women getting involved in the training of children.”

He said the days when women were relegated to the background as far as decision-making is concerned are no more adding “the region needs to benefit from the socio-economic development of the country and we can do it better if we involve women in every effort.”

Naa S.D. Gore II, Dorimon Naa and President of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs said the attempt to raise the status of women traditional leaders was receiving the deserved attention and added that a modest allowance of GH¢80 has been approved for women leaders in the various paramouncies.

He said to solve the numerous chieftaincy disputes, the house has decided to set up mediation committees to mediate on cases before they develop into full blown judicial cases saying, “this will depend on the manner the parties present their cases.”

Naa Gore II also touched on the numerous developmental challenges facing the region adding “we as traditional leaders would have to do more to complement government’s effort towards development of the region.”

He called on all traditional leaders to co-operate with the various census agencies for a smooth conduct of the 2010 housing and population census which commences on September 26.

The chief also deplored widespread environmental degradation in the region saying “the permits given by all mining companies needs to be scrutinized.”

Willie Laate, Deputy Executive Director of CIKOD said traditional authorities and existing indigenous institutions is the key to poverty alleviation and development in the rural areas.

He said CIKOD is working hard to help the traditional authorities to develop concrete action plans that would ensure that activities of women are recognized for development.

Isaac Owusu-Mensah, Senior Programmes Manager of KAS said “we are committed to building the capacities of women in leadership for them to optimize their skills to be more competent for the development of their communities.”

He promised that KAS would continue to support traditional institutions and the people to bring about accelerated development.

Kofi Wayo taunts Mills




Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday September 23, 2010
SELF ACCLAIMED billionaire cum maverick politician, Charles Kofi Wayo aka Chuck has taunted President Mills for putting square pegs in round holes, saying that it was the reason why the ruling National democratic Congress (NDC) was struggling to fulfill its campaign pledges.

“I don’t feel sorry for President Mills because they (square pegs) are going to embarrass him till he is voted out of power,” he said.

Speaking on Vibe FM, an Accra-based radio station on a wide range of issues last Friday, Mr. Wayo, who is also the leader of the defunct United Renaissance Party (URP), said when the NDC came to power he appealed to President Mills to set up a taskforce with him (Wayo) as the head to solve problems related to roads, lights and gas but claimed the President rebuffed him.

He said as a result he does not have any pity for President Mills because he sidelined him despite his numerous ‘connections’ that could help solve some of the issues facing Ghanaians.

He said African leaders including President Mills are egocentric and cursed them, saying there is a special place reserved for them in hell.

He added that Billy Graham, the renowned American evangelist once told him that there was a special place in hell for African leaders.

He described African leaders as people who have turned out to be 10 times more brutal than their white colonial masters.

“African leaders steal money and do not do anything with it...The white man is corrupt but intelligent…The white man knows he has to chop small and give 90 per cent to the people but for the black man, he will chop 90 per cent and fight over the remaining 10 per cent with the people (sic),” he added.

Mr. Wayo, who praised President Mills in the early days of the NDC, said the ‘Father for all’ President has ignored all his advice.

The URP leader, who was appointed as the board member of the Energy Commission by President Mills, conceded that the NDC government is willing to listen to advice.

“This government what I like about them is this; they are willing to listen, they all think in the box like rats, they look outside the box and they are curious. They want to get out, but the NPP big men; they have accepted that our condition is going to be like this…In the Atta Mills’ government, there are individuals who know there is a problem,” he said.

Mr. Wayo also said that leaders in Ghana have corrupted everything including journalism and the Holy Bible, adding, “The real criminals are in government and churches are taking people’s money.”

He said judges are part of what he termed “security forces” and said “one corrupt judge” can be equated to a thousand armed robbers.”

“One corrupt minister of state can ruin the whole nation, if I am a Minister and I steel money, the taxpayer’s money, then I am indirectly killing children in the hospitals and villages.”

Court throws out Gbevlo Lartey

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 22, 2010.
The Human Rights Court in Accra has thrown out a legal objection raised by Lt. Col. Gbevlo Lartey (Rtd.), National Security Coordinator in the case in which Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Member of Parliament (MP) for Weija is seeking to enforce her fundamental human rights under the 1992 Republican Constitution.

Shirley Ayorkor, a former Deputy Minister under the previous administration, is currently battling the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in the law courts in relation to a piece of land (Plot No. 12A) that she acquired at Ridge, Accra in 2007.

She has jointly sued Brig. Gen. Joseph Nunoo Mensah Rtd, National Security Advisor, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Larry Gbevlo Lartey, and the Attorney-General, claiming that the first and second defendants are using security operatives to take the land which she has started developing on the basis that the land belongs to the state.

The plaintiff’s affidavit in support of her application said she leased a plot of land from the President of the Republic of Ghana in 2007 but on April 15, 2010 while her workers were busily at work, some group of men who said they were coming from the National Security and had been sent by the first and second defendants ordered the workers to stop work immediately.

The security operatives, the plaintiff averred, then erected a signboard with the inscription ‘Government Property. Stop Work. Keep Off, By Order’ and left telephone numbers for her to call and find out.

“On April 16, 2010, the next day, the National Security operatives claiming to be acting on the instructions of first and second defendants visited the land again and took away various construction tools belonging to her workmen with orders to stop work.”

She said she reported the matter to the Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department on April 16, 2010.

As a result she sought “a declaration that the respondents’ interference with her right to develop, use and enjoy her land is wrong and an unlawful interference with her right to property and constitutes a violation of her fundamental human rights.”

She also wants damages for wrongful and unlawful interference and violation of the applicant’s human rights and an order for perpetual injunction to prevent her from developing the land.

As a result both the first and second defendants were served on April 28, 2010 and the third defendant was served on April 21, 2010.

However, on May 11, 2010, Lt. Col. Gbevlo Lartey, through his solicitors, filed a notice to raise legal objection to the Weija MP’s motion.

The security capo contended that the applicant’s lease upon which she relies to enforce her alleged rights is ineffective as an instrument affecting the land.

“It violates Section 24 (1) of the Land Registry Law, 1962 (Act 122) under which every instrument affecting land is considered ineffective until registered.”

The defendant contended that if the MP’s lease were effective, the applicant would have been in breach of covenant in failing to show that within three years of execution she has built a house to the value of the amount specified in the lease or has built a surrounding wall around the area to which the site plan attached to the lease relates.

“The motion with the supporting affidavit raises so many terrible issues that cannot be appropriately resolved by an affidavit. A writ of summons would provide an appropriate remedy, not a motion.”

Dismissing the legal objection, the court, presided over by UP Derry said from the affidavit in support of the application there is no doubt that the MP is invoking article 18 of the Constitution adding “if any person’s right to property is violated he is entitled to protection by this court by virtue of Article 33 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.”

The court said there are no competing interests and the fact that the applicant has not yet registered her land does not bar her from taking steps to enforce under Article 18 (1) 0f the Constitution.

The court also held that Mr. Gbevlo Lartey’s argument that the MP should have issued a writ instead of a motion is misplaced saying “by Article 33 (1), a person has a choice to take any action.”

The court therefore said the legal objection is misconceived adding that “the case should proceed.”

Court throws out Gbevlo Lartey



Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo Lartey (Rtd.) is the National Security Coordinator in Ghana

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 22, 2010
The Human Rights Court in Accra has thrown out a legal objection raised by Lt. Col. Gbevlo Lartey (Rtd.), National Security Coordinator in the case in which Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Member of Parliament (MP) for Weija is seeking to enforce her fundamental human rights under the 1992 Republican Constitution.
Shirley Ayorkor, a former Deputy Minister under the previous administration, is currently battling the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in the law courts in relation to a piece of land (Plot No. 12A) that she acquired at Ridge, Accra in 2007.
She has jointly sued Brig. Gen. Joseph Nunoo Mensah Rtd, National Security Advisor, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Larry Gbevlo Lartey, and the Attorney-General, claiming that the first and second defendants are using security operatives to take the land which she has started developing on the basis that the land belongs to the state.
The plaintiff’s affidavit in support of her application said she leased a plot of land from the President of the Republic of Ghana in 2007 but on April 15, 2010 while her workers were busily at work, some group of men who said they were coming from the National Security and had been sent by the first and second defendants ordered the workers to stop work immediately.
The security operatives, the plaintiff averred, then erected a signboard with the inscription ‘Government Property. Stop Work. Keep Off, By Order’ and left telephone numbers for her to call and find out.
“On April 16, 2010, the next day, the National Security operatives claiming to be acting on the instructions of first and second defendants visited the land again and took away various construction tools belonging to her workmen with orders to stop work.”
She said she reported the matter to the Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department on April 16, 2010.
As a result she sought “a declaration that the respondents’ interference with her right to develop, use and enjoy her land is wrong and an unlawful interference with her right to property and constitutes a violation of her fundamental human rights.”
She also wants damages for wrongful and unlawful interference and violation of the applicant’s human rights and an order for perpetual injunction to prevent her from developing the land.
As a result both the first and second defendants were served on April 28, 2010 and the third defendant was served on April 21, 2010.
However, on May 11, 2010, Lt. Col. Gbevlo Lartey, through his solicitors, filed a notice to raise legal objection to the Weija MP’s motion.
The security capo contended that the applicant’s lease upon which she relies to enforce her alleged rights is ineffective as an instrument affecting the land.
“It violates Section 24 (1) of the Land Registry Law, 1962 (Act 122) under which every instrument affecting land is considered ineffective until registered.”
The defendant contended that if the MP’s lease were effective, the applicant would have been in breach of covenant in failing to show that within three years of execution she has built a house to the value of the amount specified in the lease or has built a surrounding wall around the area to which the site plan attached to the lease relates.
“The motion with the supporting affidavit raises so many terrible issues that cannot be appropriately resolved by an affidavit. A writ of summons would provide an appropriate remedy, not a motion.”
Dismissing the legal objection, the court, presided over by UP Derry said from the affidavit in support of the application there is no doubt that the MP is invoking article 18 of the Constitution adding “if any person’s right to property is violated he is entitled to protection by this court by virtue of Article 33 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.”
The court said there are no competing interests and the fact that the applicant has not yet registered her land does not bar her from taking steps to enforce under Article 18 (1) 0f the Constitution.
The court also held that Mr. Gbevlo Lartey’s argument that the MP should have issued a writ instead of a motion is misplaced saying “by Article 33 (1), a person has a choice to take any action.”
The court therefore said the legal objection is misconceived adding that “the case should proceed.”

CPP Reads Riot Act



Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 22, 2010.
The Convention People’s Party (CPP) says the days when people spoke to the media on behalf of the party without recourse to the party hierarchy are over and has vowed to discipline any member found to have brought the party’s name into disrepute.

Ladi Nylander, National Chairman and leader of the CPP who gave the warning yesterday said “the CPP means business and we are ready to move on. I tell you that the views you will hear from the CPP will be that of those who are accredited to speak. We are instilling discipline and pursue Nkrumahist unity.”

The chairman was speaking at the CPP headquarters in Accra at the commemoration of the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday (Founder’s Day) which has also been declared a public holiday by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government and used the occasion to introduce what the party calls its ‘shadow cabinet’ which will be offering alternative solutions on national issues.

Mr. Nylander said the NDC and the NPP who have had the chance to govern Ghana in the current democratic dispensation are all having their own problems and it was up to the CPP to capitalize on it and present a formidable front for Ghanaians saying “we have to show unity devoid of personal interests and move to get Ghanaians on our side.”

Commenting on Ivor Kobina Greenstreet and James Kwabena Bonfeh, General Secretary and National Youth Organizer respectively who have been suspended by the party for their public utterances, Mr. Nylander said “there is a disciplinary process currently going on and we will make our position clear when they finish the work.”

He said the CPP currently stands at what he called ‘cross-roads’ and were ready to take over the reins of government to put into action the process of social transformation on the country.

“The CPP tradition has not had it easy in the Fourth Republic. Our ranks have been split since 1992. Of course this has been engineered deliberately! We have gone through various incarnations as the PNC, NIP, PHP, PCP, CP, GCPP and since 1998, the CPP once again.”

He said since then the CPP has worked hard but have not known any victory but said “it is my conviction that victory now appears to be at hand.”

The Chairman said the CPP is pushing for a nation where there would be patriotism, respect for human rights, discipline, and self reliance as well as pursue excellence as a national character towards accelerated economic growth.

He also announced a list of leading CPP members who have been given permission to speak on issues affecting the various sectors of the economy.

Disquiet in CEPS Over New Integration Policy




Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 21, 2010
THERE IS growing disquiet among staff of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), following the introduction of the new integration policy.

The new policy, introduced by Government to shore up revenue generation, now relieves CEPS of certain core functions and concentrates these under the direct supervision of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

However, personnel of CEPS have complained that this development would promote bureaucracy under the GRA.

Sources at CEPS told CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE that there are speculations that the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) is likely to take over the preventive functions of CEPS.

They said even though CEPS was a paramilitary institution, the new arrangement would put it directly under the control of a civilian head.

“Our worry is how we are going to join civilian institutions like Value Added Tax (VAT) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Once an autonomous institution, we will be a division under the GRA.

“Our status as a paramilitary institution has not changed yet about three of our deputies have already been drafted into the support services under the authority.”

The aggrieved personnel continued that CEPS could not operate efficiently and effectively since the Administrative, Research, Monitoring and Finance departments of the service have been taken to different divisions under GRA.

They added that funds for the operation of the preventive wing of the service have been delayed because the process for collection has had to go through the Support Service Commissioner at VAT before clearance, thereby slowing down their operations.

Another issue they raised was the delay in the payment of their salary last month which caused them a lot of embarrassment.

“There is speculation that a lot of CEPS staff are going to be placed under the support services,” they noted.

They also complained about the absence of a sensitization programme for CEPS under the integration system, adding that they did not know the essence of the GRA Skills Audit questionnaire that was distributed to CEPS staff.

They noted the Commissioner of CEPS would not have a say at the GRA Board.

Additionally, there were no new conditions of service for GRA though integration process had started.

It would be recalled that Martin Amidu, Minister of Interior, announced that Government had approved a proposal for border patrol teams for the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to use weapons.

According to him, that formed part of efforts by Government to review existing legislation and policies, as well as conditions of service of immigration personnel to promote capacity and effective vigilance at the borders.

Mr. Amidu, who disclosed this at the graduation ceremony of the second batch of recruits of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) of Liberia at the Ghana Immigration Training School, Assin Fosu in the Central Region, noted that the reforms and strategies were critical to emerging democracies in the sub-region.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wuaku Commission Report is relevant - Court

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday September 20, 2010
An Accra Fast Track High Court says the Wuaku Commission Report which the 15 persons charged for killing Ya Na Yakubu Andani II overlord of Dagbon in 2002, are seeking to tender in evidence, is relevant to the trial.

The court presided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal has therefore asked defense counsel to take steps to authenticate four volumes of the proceedings which formed the basis for the report so that it can be tendered in evidence for the third prosecution witness to continue his cross-examination.

The Wuaku Commission was set by President John Agyekum Kufuor in 2002 after the deadly intra-ethnic conflict between Abudus and Andanis of Dagbon in Yendi which led to the death of the Ya Na and a host of other people mostly Andanis.

The commission started its work on June 4, 2002 and submitted its report to the then New Patriotic Party (NPP) government on November 6, 2002. In all, 108 witnesses testified before the commission, including some who are appearing for the prosecution in the current case.

The issue of whether or not defense counsel for the 15 men, Philip Addison can refer to aspects of proceedings in cross-examining the third prosecution witness (PW3) held up the trial on Wednesday because the prosecution led by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Ms. Gertrude Aikins doubted the authenticity of the proceedings, compelling the court to adjourned for the document which are in four volumes to authenticated.

Defense counsel then asked for an adjournment to get it done and when it was brought to the court yesterday it had the signature of Professor Kwesi Yankah, a member of the Wuaku Commission.

Just as the Mr. Addison sought to tender the document in evidence, Rexford Wiredu, a Principal State Attorney who stood in for the DPP objected saying the document had not been authenticated.

He said “I have seen volumes presented to us for verification. We see a signature of Professor Kwesi Yankah. He was a member of the commission but he is not entitled to sign.”

The prosecutor said both secretaries to the commission, D.K. Owu and Mrs. Regina Apotsi, a former Judicial Secretary who should have signed are all deceased and added that the commission substituted Mr. Yaw Wiredu Peprah who sat in as secretary throughout the trial is still alive and could sign the report.

He argued that the document in contention “is a reproduction of the original,” adding “It should bear the stamp and certificate but there is nothing like certificate of the signature of Yaw Wiredu Peprah.”

Mr. Wiredu who looked combative throughout said “the witness is not the secretary to the commission. He did not author the documents and therefore he cannot answer for questions from them.”

He said anything that comes from the government printer is gazette with date address and the Coat of Arm embossed on it but in this case we do not have it, adding “I went to the government publisher and they told me they do not have anything such document there. The government printer says they have never seen a copy of the Wuako Commission proceedings before. They said they produced a copy of the reports”
Taking his turn, Mr. Addison said “I am surprised at the prosecution’s objection. We are here seeking the truth and they do not want us to get there.”

He argued that the Attorney-General cannot say they do not have a document produced by a constitutionally mandated body under Constitutional Instrument CI 36, adding the Commission’s report that the prosecution is relying on was signed by the three commissioners and not the secretary to the commission: “Is the prosecution saying it is not authentic?”

Counsel said the terms of reference of the commission made it clear that counsel was entitled to copies of the proceedings, adding “copies of the of the proceedings together with audio, videos and photographs of all the witnesses were handed over to the Attorney-General so they cannot say that they do not have copies.”

“They should produce what they have to contradict what we are seeking to tender. If they fail to produce the proceedings we are entitled to produce what we have in our custody.”

Counsel said that Ibrahim Mahama who was counsel to the Ya Na has written a book titled: “Murder of an African King…Ya Na Yakubu Andani II” in which he made copious references to the proceedings in the book adding “He is an Andani and not an Abudu where people can say that the book has been written to suit the Abudus case.”

“We got the document certified by Prof. Yankah with the concurrence of the other commissioners,” adding “Some of the witnesses in this case appeared before the commission. We are only tendering these documents to test their memory and credibility.”

The court in its ruling said the witnesses have admitted testifying before the Wuaku Commission and once the prosecution is being mounted based on the commission’s report the document is relevant bust must first be authenticated before it is tendered in evidence.

“I have looked at it carefully. It is only signed by Prof. Yankah. There is no certification. The signature should have been preceded with the certification other than that Prof. Yankah should be called to tender it.”

He said “the prosecution cannot deny the existence of the proceedings. It is surprising that the AG’s office says they do not have a copy of the proceedings. I would not reject this document because it is relevant to this case.”

The case was subsequently adjourned until September 27, 2010 for the defense to authenticate the document.

The accused are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former District Chief Executive of Yendi as 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused respectively.

All 15 accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and murder and are currently on remand except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wuako Report holds up Ya Na trial

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday September 16, 2010
The issue of whether or not defense counsel in the case in which 15 people are being tried for their alleged involvement in the murder of Ya Na Yakubu, overlord of Dagbon in 2002, can refer to aspects of proceedings that formed the Wuako Commission Report held up the trial yesterday.

Matters came to a head when the third prosecution witness (PW3), Imrana Saibu after giving his evidence-in-chief and implicating 11 out of the 15 men was about to be cross-examined by Phillip Addison, counsel for all the accused.

The moment counsel made reference to the proceedings of the Presidential Commission’s Report Ms. Gertrude Aikins; the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) who is trying the case raised an objection saying the document is not ‘authenticated,’ and that the Attorney-Generals’ Department did not even have a copy of the proceedings of the commission.

But in his response, Mr. Addison contended that once the prosecution is being mounted based on the Commission’s report the accused persons have every right to use the evidence made on oath by the witnesses before commission to defend themselves.

“The witness cannot say one thing on oath at the Commission and come back to this trial to give different evidence.”

Justice EK Ayebi of the court of Appeal who is trying the case then over ruled the prosecution’s objection but said defense counsel should tender the document so that the prosecution’s fears could be allayed but counsel insisted that he could not tender the document through the witness in the dock.

“If we have to tender these volumes of documents in evidence then it will be proper to tender it through the investigator in this case but not this witness,” he said.

After few minutes of heated argument defense counsel said they were willing to tender the document but asked the court for an adjournment to enable the accused to take steps to procure copies of the report and the court adjourned the case until September 17, 2010.

In his evidence-in-chief, Saibu (PW3) told the court that in 2002 he was in a student of Tamale Polytechnic when his friend called Alhassan Andani who he said is the Ya Na’s son asked him on March 25, 2002 to collect a satellite dish which had been sent to him (Ya Na’s son) from Wa and bring it to him in Yendi from Tamale.

“I got to the station at 5pm and entered a Benz bus and we got to Yendi at around 7:30 pm but we saw that there were so many people on the main street of Yendi and we realized that people were celebrating the Bugum festival so the driver could not use the main road and had to use the GWCL road.”

He told the court that in the process a pick up vehicle made up of soldiers and police officers who said it was a curfew so they detained us at the Yendi Police Station for the night saying “during the night we heard sporadic gunshots.”

“The following day on March 26, 2010 at 6:30 am we were released so I went home and I sent for Ya Na’s son to come for the dish but he sent two brothers to come and help me to bring the dish to the Gbewaa Palace which we did and sat under a baobab tree in front of the palace afterwards.”

“Whilst conversing we heard the Abudus firing gunshots into the palace. We took shelter in the palace and the firing intensified and one boy who bled from the leg was brought in and we were told he was shot by the Abudus.”

He told the court that due to the intensity of the firing they were compelled to enter the hall of the palace and his friend (Ya Na’s son) came to the hall to say that the Ya Na has ordered us to defend the palace.”

“The young men in the palace took single barrel guns and started firing back at the Abudus in defense. The Ya Na also has warriors and they joined in fighting back the Abudus,” adding the situation subsided and at about 3 o’clock the Abudus started the firing of gunshots again.

He said in the process, they saw the late Mbadugu’s house on fire and realized that the Abudus had started burning down houses belonging to Andanis and also saw a helicopter which came to land in town claiming “I informed the Ya Na about the helicopter and the king said maybe the government has heard about the fighting and was moving in to help but that never was.”

He said “on March 27, 2002 the Abudus started firing again and we also fired back. We exchanged fire till we heard the Abudus were burning houses within the palace.”

He told the court that the firing intensified and the hall in which they were started burning and they moved to the main hall and it also started burning.

“My father advised the Ya Na to let them all move to the Saampaa (a portion in the palace where the king relaxes to take fresh air) so that when we die our people would locate us and bury us but the Ya Na said no we should remain on the skin of our grandfathers.”

“My father then stepped out and a bullet pierced through his body, the Mbadugu then followed and he was also shot and his leg broken.”

The witness said the Ya Na together with two elders followed and the Abudus started shooting and they (Ya Na and the elders) were chased, adding “We then retreated to the hall and looked for an escape route.”

He mentioned one Nantongma, Alhassan Andani, Abukari Amadu and other young men who were there at that moment and added that he then climbed a wall and entered a place where the Ya Nas are buried.

He claimed he saw the second accused person (A2) and two others with guns and they opened fire and he fell on the ground in the process and said whilst on the ground he saw Samasama (A4) and Imoro (A12) pulling the body of the Ya Na close to where he was lying.

He claimed he saw Abukari Yussif (A14) holding two lorry tyres and Leftee (A13) with a gun, Mustapha (A11), with gun and Nyaa (A15) with a camera whilst Zakaria Forest (A7) with a machine used to cut trees.

He claimed that it was A4 who held the Ya Na’s head and A7 used the machine to cut both head and hand and further claimed it was Mustapha who sprinkled petrol on the king’s body saying “I saw fire afterwards but did not see who had set it.”

He claimed A15 later started taking photographs and each of the accused held the king’s head and took photographs with it in turns.

He claimed the accused then moved to the Abudu area and returned about 15 to 20 minutes later and said he saw Iddi (A1) whom he called ‘self styled Mbadugu’, leading the procession and holding the king’s head which had been fixed on a spear amid drumming and dancing.

He said as he could not walk he crawled on his knees untill he entered the Prison officers quarters in Yendi where he met the Ya Na’s son and one Alhassan Yakubu and whilst there they heard a voice in an armour car saying “please haven’t you finished with your mission? If you have finished please withdraw. We are expecting some men from Tamale when they come they will fire at you”.

He said he managed to get to the hospital and whilst on the hospital bed he saw A1 with former senior Minister JH Mensah and some chiefs on GTV where A1 remarked that the Ya Na since becoming king has not made the Abudus known peace and that is the reason why they have killed him.

The witness is expected to be cross-examined by counsel for the accused on Friday.

The accused are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former District Chief Executive of Yendi as 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused respectively.

All 15 accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and murder and are currently on remand except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.

Before the trial started Ms. Aikins had told the court that some people have been moving around the city attacking Abudu women and added that an incident occurred on Tuesday after court where two women were hit with objects when boarding a bus by unknown people and injuring one severely in the process.

The court cautioned the factions to abide by the law and tasked the police to take steps to deal with the perpetrators.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ya Na Trial Continues

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 15, 2010
A prosecution witness at the murder trial of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, has claimed that the late overlord of Dagbon ordered warriors of the Gbewaa Palace in Yendi to attack and kill Abudus during the intra-ethnic conflict between Abudus and Andanis which led to the death of the Dagomba king and some of his elders.

“We were able to contain the Abudus at a point during the three days conflict because the Ya Na instructed us to kill them. There were single barreled guns in the palace so we used them to push back the Abudus who were attacking us.”

These were the words of Ziblim Abdulai, a second prosecution witness (PW2) who testified at an Accra Fast Track High Court where 15 persons have been charged for killing the Ya Na.

The accused are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former District Chief Executive of Yendi as 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused respectively.

All 15 accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and murder and are currently on remand except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.

The court presided over by Justice E.K Ayebi of the Court of Appeal at the end of the trial dismissed the prosecution’s request to have the accused remanded into prisons custody as it would impede a speedy trial.

Led in evidence by Ms. Gertrude Aikins, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ziblim, who spoke through an interpreter in Dagbani, told the packed court that he is a farmer who was always present at the palace because his father was the Mbadugu (chief of staff) at the Gbewaa palace adding “I was in Yendi in March 2002 when the crises started.”

He said on Monday March 25, 2002, his father (the Mbadugu) who was killed alongside the Ya Na sent him to call the deputy Mbadugu to the palace but was attacked by Abudu youth when he was returning with the Deputy Mbadugu.

“I heard the Abudus say kill him. Don’t allow him to go. They chased me with stones sticks and clubs whilst I was on my bike and in the process I fell and someone hit my waist with a block and I overheard the landlord say that they should not kill him in front of his house.

“I also brandished a knife and managed to escape to tell my father what had happened but my bike and slippers were taken by the Abudus. My father then sent me to the Ya Na to complain to him who asked that I should report the case to the Yendi police which we did.”

He said the police gave him two medical forms but when he got to the hospital a staff asked him to pay GH¢ 2 but because he did not have the money, he was denied access to the doctor in charge and he collected the medical forms back and was driven out of the facility but in his cross examination the same Ziblim said he was admitted at the hospital for some time.

He said “As soon as I stepped outside I heard gunshots and I saw women and children running from the palace to seek shelter so I returned to sit at the hospital for the fighting to subside before walking through the water supply area to the Gbewaa palace.

“He said when he got to the palace, he saw one Mahama Yakubu bleeding in the thigh and when I enquired I was told he was shot by the Abudus and the Ya Na ordered that the boy be taken to the hospital.”

Ziblim said the Abudus started the attacks again the next day and the Ya Na “ordered us to step out and protect the palace”, adding “we contained the Abudus by returning fire at them till they retreated. They later started burning down houses near the palace but could not get to the palace because we were still resisting them.”

He said he was the one who told the Ya Na to leave the palace and the Ya Na asked him to first go out and ask the Abudus to stop the firing and also to go and bring the soldiers to rescue him (Ya Na).

Ziblim told the court that, in the process, he asked the Ya Na whether his phone was working but the king said it had not been working for the past three days, contrary to the evidence given by PW1 (Abukari Amadu) that somebody who identified himself as Abukari had called the Ya Na on 27th March, 2002 and asked the Ya Na to leave the palace because the Abudus were going to kill him (Ya Na) and even went ahead to say he (PW1) was the one who received that phone call.

Ziblim said he managed to go the military barracks where he saw the DCE and some army officers and the head of police in Yendi at the barracks but they all refused to rescue the Ya Na because the Ya Na had defied a curfew.

He said the military, together with the DCE and some security officials, later went to the palace and when they returned, they came with two children called Alhassan Zakaria and one Kojo and when he asked Zakaria said the Ya Na and his (Ziblim’s) father have been killed in the Saampaa (a portion in the palace where the king relaxes to take fresh air) adding “I do not know those who killed my father and the Ya Na because I was not there.”

During cross-examination by Philip Addison, Counsel for the accused, Ziblim denied that he was the one who started the whole conflict by brandishing a gun and going to the Abudus area in Yendi to look for one Ayoma who was said to have called Radio Savannah in Tamale that Yendi was likely to explode if the police did not come in.

The witness told the court that he recognized Ayoma and another as some of the people who attacked him but denied that he had told the Wuako Commission set up by President Kufuor to investigate the killing of the Ya Na that he it was one Cheampon who attacked him.

He said he did not see Dibba and one Red brandishing guns and protecting the Ya Na as warriors and explained that the talisman and animal tail found on him by the police are part of the Dagomba tradition: those items are used for protection.

He said when he came to Accra he stayed in the same hotel with other witnesses in the case but said he did not know whether the facility in which they stayed was a hotel or not.

Earlier, the first Prosecution Witness, Abukari Amadu, had said he did not stay at the Gbewaa palace but frequented the place anytime he was in Yendi. He disagreed with counsel that the only reason there were so many people who were armed at the palace was because they were preparing for war.

He mentioned one Hudu as the auto electrician who overheard the DCE and the soldier plan the killing of the Ya Na but when counsel put it to him that he did not mention it to the Wuako Commission or at the trial of Yidana Sugri and Iddisu Janfo, the witness said it was not an afterthought.

The two men (Sugri and Janfo) were tried and set free by an Accra Fast Track High Court for lack of evidence after they were arrested for allegedly murdering the Ya Na.

He told the court that he knew one Iddrisu Janfo Pache an Andani who was said to have burnt down houses belonging to his own people (Andanis) saying “he was one of the warriors of the Ya Na. He looked after Ya Na’s cattle and started to sell the animals so the Ya Na sacked him. Therefore during the attack he was not an Andani anymore.”

He also said he knew one Ibrahim Abu Zulge who had turned himself into an Abudu and therefore did not come to the palace again but during the conflict, he hid with Zulge in the same place.

Amadu said during the conflict he held a cutlass contrary to his evidence that he was not holding any weapon saying “if you were in your house and someone came to attack you, you would not sit down,” and added “during the conflict, Andani bodies were found but I have no evidence that even a single Abudu died.”

He disagreed that at the time the Ya Na called for a truce the palace was already on fire and the armory had exploded.

He also said since this case started, he and other witnesses had been lodging at a hotel but did not know who has been paying for the bills and said he played a significant role in the arrest and trial of Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Janfo and insisted that he saw Yidana with the Ya Na’s hand dandling around his neck.

He told the court that he did not know that Yidana and Janfo were freed by the court for lack of evidence saying “I know they were on bail” adding “I am in this court to find out those who perpetrated this heinous crime in Yendi.”

Sitting continues today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

POTAG Adamant

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu
Despite a directive by the National Labour Commission (NLC), Daily Guide can confirm that polytechnic lecturers are still on strike.

National President of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), Godfred Abledu in a telephone interview yesterday said the association has not received any directive from the NMC to resume work.

He said the meeting that POTAG had with the NLC together with Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and Conference of Polytechnic Rectors on September 8, 2010 did not last for more than two minutes and wondered the basis for the NLC’s directive.

“The NLC at the short meeting asked the FWSC to respond to the demands raised by POTAG and the meeting was fixed for September 15, 2010, so we do not understand where this directive is coming from.”

Mr. Abledu said POTAG has directed its organizing secretary who is based in Accra to contact the NLC for details.

The NLC on September 8, 2010 in a directive signed by Edward Briku-Boadu for Executive Secretary of the Commission said “the POTAG should call off its strike action immediately and return to normal duties.”

The commission also directed the parties in dispute – National POTAG, Conference of Rectors of Polytechnics and the FWSC to appear before the commission on September 15, 2010.

The directive was copied to the Minister of Education, the Executive Secretary of National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), the Chief Executive of FWSC and the Chairmen of Council of the Polytechnics.

The POTAG on September 2, 2010 started what they called “a nationwide sit down strike” with immediate effect because the government has refused to negotiate for their conditions of service.

POTAG had said the government has not listened to them since their conditions of service expired in 2008.

“We had an emergency meeting early this week in Koforidua over the issue of our conditions of service and we have unanimously resolved withdraw our services to press home for improved conditions of service,” Mr. Abledu said at the time.

Registered about 10 years ago as a labour union, POTAG has over 1000 members scattered all over polytechnics in the country.

Ablakwa bemoans child neglect

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 14, 2010
SAMUEL OKUDZETO Ablakwa, a Deputy Minister of Information says child rights issues have not been given the necessary attention and that accounts for the rampant neglect, abuse and maltreatment of children by the elderly in the country.

“The rights of children are not being taken serious as a country. We have relaxed in our bid to create conducive environment for child development. This is a shared indictment and we must wake up to our responsibilities,” he said.

Mr. Ablakwa was speaking in Accra on Monday at a two-day training for journalists from the Greater-Accra region on child rights issues.

The programme, which was organized by Child rights International in collaboration with Plan Ghana and the European Union (EU), seeks to build the capacity of journalists to enable them combat and prevent violence against children.

Mr. Ablakwa said there is total care and support for children in many countries and wondered why Ghana could not follow such examples, adding, “We should not continue to apportion blame; we should all take immediate steps to correct all the wrongs we as adults have done to children.”

Gertrude Aikins, Director of Public Prosecution, who represented the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Betty Mould Iddrisu, said the nation has a comprehensive law on how children should be developed in the country but the application and implementation of such law has been the bane.

She said prisons, police cells and other detention centers should be the last resort for children who flout the law, adding “anytime the situation arises their cases should be treated with extreme care because you cannot criminalize a child less than 12 years.”

“Before a child is committed to stand trial, a social worker is supposed to investigate and write formal background report for the child, yet we gloss over these all the time.”

She said journalists are always confronted with a dilemma when it comes to issues concerning children and reiterated the ministry’s commitment to ensuring that the rights of children are enforced properly.

Hajia Gariba Boya, Deputy Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs said, “Children continue to suffer in the country because we as adults have failed to commit ourselves towards their proper development.”

She said the ministry would continue to raise awareness on the dangers of child neglect in the country and work with all stakeholders to ensure the safety of children.

Bright Appiah, Executive Director of Child Rights International said children in the country need total support from all stakeholders to grow to become responsible citizens.

Ransford Tetteh, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) said the role of the media in promoting the rights of children should never be underestimated and also urged journalists to protect the interest of children.