Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ya Na Trial Starts

Posted on:

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday September 10, 2010
The first prosecution witness (PW 1) called to testify in the trial of 15 men accused of the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon in 2002, yesterday gave a series of contradictory evidence before the packed Fast Track High Court in Accra.

The witness, Abukari Amadu, an employee of the First National Savings and Loans Limited in Tamale told the court in his evidence-in-chief that it was the Ya Na who had sent one Ziblim to go and call the Mbadugu (Chief of Staff of the Ya Na) to the Gbewaa Palace where the Ya Na and his elders were killed by members of the Abudu Royal Gate. But during cross-examination, the same witness said it was Ziblim’s father who had sent Ziblim to go and call the Mbadugu to the palace and was attacked in the process.

Amadu also told the court that when the Abudus attacked the palace, he jumped over a wall and hid at about 75 meters away from the palace, but during cross-examination he said he was hiding at a location which was about 40 meters away from the palace where he saw Yidana Sugri aka Red and Iddisu Janfo holding the severed hand of the Ya Na and dancing.

He further told the court presided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal that he sat quietly and unarmed in the inner chamber of the palace during the attacks by the Abudus. However, in cross-examination, he said “we used sticks and stones to resist the attacks.”

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.

Those on trial 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 during the NPP regime 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.

Led in evidence by Ms. Gertrude Aikins, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Amadu, who spoke English, said he was a student teacher in Yendi when the incident occurred, adding that he was born and bred at the palace: “I was born as a chief attendant”.

He said “it was rumoured that the Abudus would not allow the Ya Na to celebrate the Bugum Festival so on 23rd March, 2002 a police Sergeant came to the palace to deliver a letter to the Ya Na and the content of the letter was that the DCE (8th accused) was inviting two elders from the palace to come for a meeting.”

The witness said the Ya Na ordered two of his elders to attend the meeting. When they returned, the two told the king that the District Chief Executive (DCE) and the District Security Committee (DISEC) were going to impose curfew on Yendi from 24th March, 2002.

He said the elders then sent to tell the DCE to come and deliver the message himself and the DCE promised to come later adding “the Ya Na waited till evening but the DCE never came.

“The following day, the Ya Na sent the registrar to call the DCE to come and explain the curfew and he (DCE) again promised to come but did not honour the invitation,” adding “the Ya Na sent for the DCE again but he was nowhere to be found.”

The Ya Na then invited Prince Imoro Andani, then Northern Regional Minister to come and explain the curfew and when the Minister arrived at the palace on March 24, 2002, he was in the company of two others, including a policeman, and told the Ya Na that he did not know anything about the curfew.

The witness said the Minister then asked the Ya Na to allow him to crosscheck from the Abudus; a request which the king obliged and, when the Minister got to them, those at the palace heard hooting coming from the Abudu’s end.

“The Minister returned to the palace and was with the DCE who was holding a talisman and wearing a yellow T-shirt. The Ya Na then briefed them about the history of Dagbon.”

At this point, Philip Addison, counsel for the accused cut in to tell the court that the witness was making statements which the defense was hearing for the first time and complained that the defense was in that situation because the prosecution had refused to grant them access to the statement of the witnesses.

The Minister had told the Ya Na that if he (Ya Na) could assure them that nothing untoward was going to happen, then the festival could go on.

The witness said on that day, he went to a friend’s house in Yendi and whilst there, he overheard one boy say that “they will kill the Ya Na whether curfew or no curfew,” but during cross-examination, he said he did not know the name of the boy who had made the comment.

The witness said on March 25, 2010 the council of elders of Dagbon gathered at the palace to conduct prayers to mark the Bugum when the Mbadugu (deceased) came to complain to the Ya Na that Ziblim had been attacked by the Abudus in town after which two other people came to make similar complaints and the Ya Na asked them to be taken to the hospital.

The witness said 30 minutes later, those in the palace heard gunshots and the Abudus started attacking the palace where one Mahama was shot in the thigh.

“The attack continued all night and on 26th March, 2002, the Abudus launched another attack and the people in the palace also resisted. I was inside the main hall. Many people had to run away while some died.”

He said the inmates at the palace also used locally-manufactured guns other weapons against the Abudus and on March 27, 2002, an unknown phone call came in and the person said he is Abukari and asked the Ya Na to leave the palace because the Abudus were going to kill him.

“Not long they came attacking and the Ya Na ordered that all the women and children should leave the palace. Fighting intensified and the Ya Na told Ziblim to go out to tell the Abudus to stop and for the two parties to sit down and dialogue.”

He said the Ya Na also asked Ziblim to go to the military to call them to come and take him out so that the Abudus could take over the palace. “All those who were coming out of the palace were gunned down,” he said.

“I scaled the wall and hid at the place where they bury the Ya Nas and the shooting continued. I later heard drumming signifying that they have killed the Ya Na. We were there when they started dancing.

He said he heard that they cut the arms of the Ya Na adding “I saw the hand of the Ya Na with a wrist watch on,” and also said he saw one body lying beside the house of the Samasama (4th accused person).

He admitted that he was at the Wuako Commission; the committee set up by President JA Kufuor to investigate the incident and also admitted he testified in trial of Yidana Sugri aka Red and Iddisu Janfo, two men who were tried and set free by an Accra Fast Track High Court for lack of evidence after they were arrested for murdering the Ya Na.

When he was asked by counsel whether he remembered the date on which he gave a statement to the police in 2002, Amadu said he did but said he could not remember the date he gave a statement to the police in 2010 in the new case saying “I made another statement to the CID in Accra this year but cannot recollect the exact date.”

He said he stayed at the Protea Hotel in East Legon, Accra when he came to give the statement and also admitted that other witnesses from the Andani gate were also put up in the same hotel adding “they were about 10 of them.”

He said he was present at the inner chamber of the palace when the Ya Na met the Regional Minister and the DCE and there were no armed men in the outer chamber contradicting his earlier evidence that those at the palace yard carried locally manufactured guns.

He said he was not aware that Ziblim brandished a gun and said there would be a lot of widows in Yendi and also disagreed with defense counsel that Abdulai Issaka aka ‘Who Born You’ was the first casualty of the skirmishes.

He said he was not one of the people who held guns defending the Ya Na adding that when he left the palace to hide five other people came to join him but could only mention four names.

He said he did not know about the outcome of the case involving Sugri and Janfo.
When counsel put it to him that he had admitted before the Wuako Commission that there was an armoury and an explosion, he said yesterday that “there was no armoury so nothing exploded.”

The court then adjourned proceedings until Tuesday September 14, 2010 for the witness to continue further cross-examination. It asked the prosecution to furnish defense counsel with statements of the witnesses the state intended to bring to court to facilitate a speedy trial.

As usual, there was heavy police presence at the court premises to ensure order and the trial passed without any incident.

No comments: