Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Ya Na Witness In Transit

The accused persons entering a police van yesterday.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday November 3, 2010
For the third time running, the prosecution has failed to bring witnesses to testify in the case in which 15 persons have been charged for the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon during the intra-ethnic conflict between the Abudu and Andani Royal Gates at Yendi in March 2002.

On Monday, October 25, 2010, Mr. Anthony Rexford Wiredu, a Principal State Attorney asked the court, presided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal to adjourn proceedings because the next prosecution witness could not be brought to the court by the police.

He said that the investigators were in the Northern region to get the witnesses to testify and the court granted the request by adjourning the case.

When the case was called yesterday, Solomon Atadze, a Principal State Attorney said “the Deputy Commissioner in charge of this case rung this morning that the witnesses we were expecting are still in transit from Tamale.”

He said “we were trying to wait for them but we realized that we were getting late and therefore we could not wait any longer. Even if they arrive now, we need to have conference with the witnesses before they can testify.”

“We will humbly ask for a date on Friday and whether they come or not we will let our case rest.”

Reacting to the turn of events, Atta Akyea, lead counsel for the accused persons said, “I do not blame the Attorney-General’s Office. I have worked there before. It is the police who are supposed to liaise with the witnesses.”

“I wonder why they should be in transit when they are supposed to testify. Why did the police not put them in a hotel as they did when they took their statements?”

Mr. Atta Akyea said “if by Friday they do not come voluntarily, we will pin the AG’s office down on their word. The bottom line is that the constitution says the liberty of the accused is also important and justice delayed is tantamount to justice denied.”

Mr. Atta Akyea had mentioned on October 25, 2010 that Nantongma Alhassan Andani and Grundo Wumbei, whose names appeared on the bill of indictment as some of the witnesses were hosted in the hotel but were not in court to testify.

Justice Ayebi then said “once again, at the request of the prosecution, further hearing is fixed for Friday, November 5, 2010 because the witnesses the prosecution said they were calling are still unavailable.”

On the Bill of Indictment, the Attorney General’s Department has indicated that it intends to bring 14 witnesses to testify in the trial and already 12 witnesses, including two police investigators and the pathologist who conducted an autopsy on the body of the Ya Na have appeared in court to testify.

The prosecution at a point substituted PW3 for PW6, but defense counsel, Phillip Addison complained to the court that the prosecution had not been furnishing them with statements of their clients on time; a development which according to him could affect speedy trial.

All the 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 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 and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused persons respectively.

Since the commencement of the trial, scores of police officers with riot control equipment including weapons have been patrolling the court premises to deter supporters of both Abudu and Andani Gates from physically settling scores.

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