Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ya Na Trial Continues

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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.

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