Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Fought To Protect Ya Na

Achana aka Red (Second right)leaving the court yard after his testimony.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday October 13, 2010
The ninth Prosecution Witness (PW9) in the trial of 15 persons charged for the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon yesterday told an Accra Fast Track High Court that he fought in the intra-ethnic conflict between Abudus and Andanis at Yendi in March 2002.

Mohammed Achana Abdul Salaam aka Red, a labourer at the Survey Department in Tamale, said he entered the Gbewaa Palace on March 26, 2002 to fight and protect the Ya Na because he was the King’s warrior and an in-law, although he is not a Dagomba.

He however claimed that he used a shot gun during the conflict, denying the fact that he used a G3-a military-style automatic assault rifle despite acknowledging that the police found G3 bullets in his pocket during cross-examination.

All the 15 accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh accused (A7) who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, with Forest (A7) facing an additional charge of murder.

They are currently on remand in police custody 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 (DCE) of Yendi as second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth 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 aka Kuns and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused persons respectively.

Led in evidence by Solomon Atadze, a Principal State Attorney, PW9 told the packed court that on March 25, 2002, he heard on Radio Savanna in Tamale that due to the attacks on the Gbewaa Palace, the Ya Na could not celebrate the Bugum (Fire) Festival and as a warrior he decided to go to Yendi the next day (March 26, 2002) to protect him (Ya Na).

He said when he got to the palace he heard firing from the right side where the Abudus were located and saw royals of the Ya Na sitting in front of the palace
He said he moved straight to have discussions with the Ya Na during which the firing intensified.

He said short guns were used to fire musketry in the palace and he picked one and also fired back saying “we could not see the Abudus but they fired from where they were hiding.”

PW9 told the court that the Abudus came again in the afternoon to burn down portions of the palace including houses belonging to Ya Na’s wife and his driver before the firing subsided.

He said in the early hours of March 27, 2002 the firing started again and it was too heavy that the Abudus were able to come close to the palace, setting houses ablaze.

PW9 mentioned that he, together with Ya Na, Alhassan Zakaria and Kojo Ngula, were those left in the palace at that moment and noted that all the rest had been killed.
“I told the Ya Na that we should leave and attempted pulling his hand to escape but
he said I should go.”

He said when he attempted to leave the palace he was fired in the stomach by Mohammed Cheampon, Moro Cheampon (A10) and Alhassan Bako, adding, “I raised up my hand and walked for about 30 to 40 meters and heard somebody shout –This id Red…Kill him!”

When the Principal State Attorney asked Red why he left the Ya Na despite the fact that he (Red) was a warrior offering the King protection, he (PW9) said “the Ya Na is a magical game so we all believe that no gun or knife can hurt him.”

He said he ran to the Yendi Police Station and on his way he was shot by one Yakubu an Abudu who was hiding with some of his colleagues at the Yendi Magistrate Court.

PW9 said he was admitted at the Yendi Hospital where he was operated upon and transferred to the Tamale Government Hospital on March 29, 2002.

During cross-examination by Phillip Addison, counsel for the accused PW9 said he was not a Dagomba but insisted he was a warrior to the Ya Na and his duty was to protect the king and the palace.

Counsel: Are you a Dagomba

Witness: No my Lord

Counsel: You became a chief warrior because you were recruited to fight

Witness: Not so my Lord (Witness explains further)… The Chief of Kumbungu made me the chief warrior. He, the Kumbung-Na, is the Chief Warrior of the Ya Na and whoever is serving the Kumbung-Na is also serving the Ya Na

Counsel: So in actual fact you are not a chief warrior to the Ya Na

Witness: I am a sub-chief warrior to the Ya Na

Counsel: The families that constitute warriors are well known in Dagbon

Witness: Yes (witness explains)… but not withstanding, the Ya Na can appoint a warrior even if that person is not a Dagomba

Counsel: So it was the Ya Na who made you a warrior

Witness: Yes (He explains further)… but he is the Overlord and we all pay allegiance to him

Counsel: You went to Yendi as a mercenary. You are a hired guard

Witness: It is not so because I go the palace all the time and the Ya Na being my in-law, I felt I should go and protect him.

He told the court that he went to Yendi on March 26 even though counsel put it to him that he had gone there to fight for the Ya Na because the date for the festival (March 25, 2002) had passed but the witness insisted that he was there to protect the Ya Na and the palace, adding, “Nobody sent for me. I went there myself.”

He said there was no war in Yendi but acknowledged that he went to the town as a warrior.

“When I got to the palace there were a lot of people and as a warrior I had to defend the Ya Na and the palace.”

Counsel: So you were firing at the Abudus

Witness: They were hiding

Counsel: Did you or did you not fire at the Abudus

Witness: Yes I fired

Counsel: So you were firing into the wall

Witness: I was not seeing them so I was firing at random.

Counsel: So you could have killed some of the Abudus

Witness: In war you fire and as a commander my firing could have killed
When counsel put it to him that he was seen firing on top of the mosque at the palace with the G3 weapon he said “it is not true”.

He said he knew one Dibba who was killed in the conflict and said he was also a warrior from Gundwagu but denied that he was firing.

“I saw Dibba firing. He used a short gun similar to the one I was using. I did not see him climbing any tree. He was shot in the palace.”

Counsel: You surrendered to the police

Witness: Yes

Counsel: You handed over a G3

Witness: No I never held a G3

Counsel: Police discovered G3 bullets in your pocket

Witness: Yes (witness explained)…but I explained to the police how I got the bullets

Counsel: What was your explanation

Witness: I told them I picked them on my way to the Police Station.

Counsel: So somebody who is being pursued could stop and pick up G3 bullets

Witness: I walked about 30 to 20 meters before running so that was the time I picked them.

The counsel put it to him that he did not say in his own statement which he gave to the police that he picked up G3 bullets but witness insisted that he picked the G3 bullets and denied portions of his own statements.

When he appeared before the Wuako Commission (the body set up by President Kufuor to investigate the murder of the Ya Na) PW9 told the commission that he saw Moro Cheampon (A10) but he (A10) did not fire at him but when counsel put that piece of evidence to him, PW9 said “this is not what I said at Wuaku Commission. He fired at me.”

Counsel: Do you have any problem with the accused persons

Witness: I do not think I have any problem with any of these accused persons Most of the Abudus are my friends. It was until this happened that I got to know where they belong.

Sitting continues today.

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