Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wuaku Commission Report is relevant - Court

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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.

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