Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wuako Report holds up Ya Na trial

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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.

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