Thursday, October 21, 2010

Investigator recounts Yendi conflict

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday October 21, 2010
Detective Inspector Charles Adaba, the officer who investigated the intra-ethnic conflict between the Abudu and Andani Royal Gates at Yendi in March 2002, which led to the death of Ya Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon, yesterday recounted how the three-day conflict begun on March 25, 2002.

He said although there was simmering tension in Yendi in the run up to the celebration of the Bugum (Fire) Festival, it was one Abdulai Issahaku aka ‘Who Born You’, an Abudu, who was first shot by a member of the Andani gate on the left knee, sparking the communal violence.

He also admitted that Ziblim Abdulai, an Andani, who testified as the second prosecution witness (PW2) had earlier on been attacked by Abudu youth and his bicycle destroyed when he was sent by his father (a lieutenant to the Ya Na) and he (Ziblim) had to rush back to the Gbewaa Palace to inform the Ya Na.

Detective Adaba, who was attached to the Yendi Divisional Police Command as a Sergeant when the conflict erupted, was quoting from a special investigation report compiled by the police as part of his testimony in the case in which 15 people are being tried for the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II.

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 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 ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused persons respectively.

Cross-examined by Phillip Addison, counsel for the accused, Detective Adaba quoted the police report as saying “it is apparent that the Ya Na has anticipated a situation as such, prepared for it by inviting some of the warriors to Yendi.”

Counsel: From your investigations, how did the communal clash as you put it, start?

Witness: From my investigations, the fire festival was banned and curfew imposed on 24th March, 2002 but in the evening before the police went to enforce law and order, the then Regional Minister, Prince Imoro Andani came to inform us on parade that the curfew had been lifted. Then on Monday March 25, 2002, form our investigations one Ziblim, an Andani was sent by one of the sub-chiefs and on his way he was attacked by the Abudu youth and his bicycle destroyed and he ran back to the palace. That was the genesis of the violence.

Counsel: What was the reaction of the Abudus when they were told the curfew had been lifted?

Witness: They were not happy

Counsel: What was the reaction of the Andanis when they were told the curfew had been lifted?

Witness: From the investigations, they were ok with the lifting of the curfew.

Counsel: Which faction actually started shooting?

Witness: I cannot tell who actually started shooting first.

Counsel then asked Detective Adaba to read paragraphs 39 to 41 of the police report and after reading it to the hearing of the packed court he replied “from the report it is the Andanis that started shooting.”

He said it did not appear in the investigation that anytime an Abudu died that person was buried immediately and also said officially 30 people died in the conflict.

He said the first dead body was picked up from a spot near the P&T on the Yendi-Gushegu road; picked four bodies from about 100 meters behind the Gbewaa Palace on the Yendi-Saboba road while others were picked up from a cross-road near the Yendi secondary school on the Zabzugu Tatale road adding “we picked one body on the Police Station road, picked some at the Fire service Station area and from in and around the palace.”

Detective Adaba said even though there is a cemetery in Yendi, the decision to bury the dead at Sambu was taken by the Regional Coordinating Council and the other security heads in the area at the time.

Counsel: Did it come to your notice that a lot of the dead cdid not come from outside Yendi

Witness: Some came from Yendi and others came from outside Yendi… From the records, about 10 of the bodies did not come from Yendi.

He said, during investigations it came to their attention that a Benz bus came to Yendi on March 26, 2002 with warriors but when the driver was questioned he denied bringing warriors and also told the court that it was not established in his investigations that Mohammed Achana Abdul Salaam aka Red came to Yendi in the Benz bus.

He told the court that it came up during the investigations that there were training camps for the Ya Na and people gave statements to that effect and they (police) visited the camps and added that when Achana (Red) was questioned about his links to Afghanistan and Pakistan he (Red) denied it.

Detective Adaba said Achana (Red) was the person whom then Constable Samuel Nyarkotey Adjatey retrieved the G3 weapon from and upon a further search he (Adaba) found one live 7.62 by 51mm ammunition, the correct caliber of G3 riffle from his (Red) breast pocket.

He said the name Ibrahim Dibba came up during the investigations and it was established that he (Dibba) died on the side of the Andanis and said the police was able to establish that all those who escaped from the palace during the conflict including the prosecution witnesses were all warriors fighting for the Ya Na.

He said page seven of the police report contained the names of Abudus suspected to have been involved in the conflict and the names had been given by the Andanis adding that only five of the accused persons had their names in it.

Counsel: Zakaria Forest who is alleged to have murdered the Ya Na; his name is not in the list

Witness: Yes…But he was at the Wuaku Commission. He had come there because Nat
Alhassan Andani had accused him of holding a cutlass during the conflict.

He admitted that during the conflict the DCE (A8) packed his Pajero at the Yendi Divisional Police Command and left the keys with the police boss and added that the DCE wore an ordinary dress.

Detective Adaba said at the time military reinforcement came to Yendi there were between 11 to 14 soldiers on the ground and the police report quotes one Captain Akrofi as saying that about 150 armed men were gathered at the Gbewaa Palace when the firing was going on March 26, 2002 and added that only 42 soldiers including an officer.

Counsel: Did you know how the military did not deploy men to the palace

Witness: No

Counsel: Did you find out there was a misunderstanding between the military, police and the Ya Na

Witness: I cannot talk about the military

Counsel: How about the police

Witness: Investigations revealed that there was a misunderstanding between the Ya Na and the District Police Commander called Mr. Kwaku Fokou and the Ya Na was reported to have said the police should not come to the palace.

He said the reason the police could not go to the palace was that the police had no protective equipment to go to the palace.

Counsel: Who in the report did police investigations conclude was the suspect of the Ya Na’s murder?

Witness: We investigated to a certain point when we stopped for the commission to start its work. It was inconclusive.

Counsel: From where you stopped, who was the suspect

Witness: At this point I could not say A or B

Detective Adaba told the court that he was relying on the same statement he gave to the police in the trial of the Republic versus Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Janfo for the current case.

Sitting continues on October 25, 2010.

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