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.

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