Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Drama At Ya Na Trial

Accused persons under police escort.

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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

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