Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baba Jamal lied over bloated contracts

Baba Jamal is a Deputy Information Minister
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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday April 28, 2011
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has accused Baba Jamal, a Deputy Information Minister, of lying about the cost of a 6-unit classroom block constructed by the government.

According to the NPP, the claim by Baba Jamal that the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) had added more facilities to the construction of school projects, which led to the 150 percent increase in contract price, could not be true because the NPP constructed classroom blocks with similar facilities at a far reduced cost.

Baba Jamal had reacted to a call on the (Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) by Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie aka Sir John, NPP General Secretary to investigate “the ridiculous and outrageous over-pricing of contracts under the government of Prof J.E.A. Mills. The situation has gotten out of hand and should be investigated before the country gets bankrupted by the naked corruption of the National Democratic Congress (NDC)”.

Sir John’s call was made after the GNA reported on Friday, April 22, that the new Eastern Regional Minister, Dr. Kwasi Akyem Apea-Kubi, was shocked by the shoddy jobs being executed by contractors despite the high cost.

The Regional Minister had said a six-classroom block constructed at the Krobo Girls Presbyterian Senior High School cost GH¢200,000 (C2 billion). This project was funded by the GETFund.

At Krobo Girls, the minister inspected a very basic two-storey dormitory block with an assembly hall, also funded by GETFUND, at the cost of GH¢800,000 (¢8 billion)

However, a news release issued in Accra yesterday and signed by Perry Curtis Perry K. Okudzeto, NPP Deputy Director of Communications, in reaction to what the NPP calls “Baba Jamal’s lies” on radio, said there was a “shameless” attempt by the government to downplay with “barefaced lies” the import of the NPP’s call on the EOCO to investigate the unprecedented culture of corruption in the award and cost of contracts since the NDC took office in 2009.

The release said in his struggle to explain himself, on radio, Baba Jamal (who was the Deputy Eastern Regional Minister at the time that highly-inflated contracts were given for the construction of school facilities), claimed that the NDC had added more facilities to the construction of school projects, which have led to the over 150 percent increase in contract price.

“Unfortunately for him, the Deputy Minister, when asked to list those additional facilities, ended up mentioning library, office, restroom and storerooms. We want to remind the Deputy Minister that the facilities he mentioned as new, as we have already indicated above, have always been among the components to any basic six-unit classroom block project.”

The NPP said no new component had been added by the NDC to require an additional GH¢180,000 or so inflation in the construction cost of a 6-unit classroom block, adding, “The components have not changed; it is only the cost that has changed under the NDC.”

The NPP said the maximum cost of a basic 6-classroom block in 2008 was GH¢78,000 while the other components, in addition to the classrooms, were a toilet and urinal, constructed separately at the maximum cost of GH¢10,000.

“Thus, under the NPP, the highest acceptable estimate for the construction of a basic six-unit classroom block anywhere in Ghana was GH¢88,000. By 2010, this had shot up to GH¢260,000 in some cases, more than 150 per cent rise, in spite of the acclaimed single digit inflation achievements of the Mills-Mahama government. On top of that, over 90 percent of these contracts were awarded through sole-sourcing, in flagrant abuse of the Public Procurement Act.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cold Reception Awaits Mills in Tamale

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday April 27, 2011.
Even before he sets foot in Tamale for a Northern Regional tour ostensibly to shore up support for his second term bid, President John Evans Atta Mills is likely to receive cold and frosty reception from his own party members in the metropolis as he has been asked to stay away.

As the congress to select National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag bearer for 2012 general elections draws near, President Mills is facing a stiff opposition from Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, former First Lady and wife of NDC founder Jerry John Rawlings and as a result, he has been criss crossing the country to campaign under the guise of commissioning projects.

A statement issued in Accra and signed by Koku Anyidoho, head of communications at the Presidency said President Mills was beginning his four day working tour of the region today, after the earlier postponement of the visit following threats by NDC youth to embarrass the number one citizen for failing to arrest Ya Na killers.

The release said the President will visit Tamale, Yendi, Lamashegu, Zabzugu, Saboba, Damongo, Fufulso, Savelugu and Nalerigu to inspect ongoing projects.

But an NDC youth group calling itself Nasara Youth in the Changli electoral area in Tamale has said the President was not welcome in Tamale.

In a statement they issued yesterday, the group said “we the youth groups of the NDC within the Changli electoral area are registering our concern over the visit of the president – His Excellency Prof. John Evans Atta Mills to Tamale.”

“We are appealing to him to rescind his decision of coming to Tamale; Tamale is not safe for his visit. We arrived at this decision after a careful study and consideration of what may result during his visit to Tamale. It appears as if the president has forgotten that, the people of Tamale voted for NDC in 2004 and 2008 general elections based on the death of the Ya-Na. it seems also that, the president has forgotten his campaign promises and messages about the Ya-Na case”.

They declared that, the president and his government had failed the Andani family adding “the youth of Tamale is not welcoming the president into the city-Tamale until the killers of Ya-Na are found. We would sit back and remain indoors if possible and oppose any attempt to make sure his visit is successful.”

They said “we also want to bring to the notice of the president and his government and the NDC party as a whole that, we have declared our strongest support for Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings for her bid for the 2012 general election on the ticket of the NDC. We give our support for Mrs. Rawlings based on the fact that the president has failed us. We are of the convictions that, she can find the killers of Ya-Na.”

They said Tamale voted for NDC because NPP lost popularity in Tamale because of the death of the Ya-Na adding “we can also categorically state that, NDC lost their wigs since the President was introduced into the party and Dr. Obed Asamoah, Bede Ziedeng, Goosie Tandoh just to mention a few lost faith in the party because of President Mills.”

“We are also bringing to the notice of Hon. Haruna Iddrisu – MP for Tamale South and Minister of Communications to stop insulting Rawlings. He should bear in mind that, he has lost his reputation and popularity in Tamale. He should understand that Rawlings and NDC made him the person he is today.”

When the court set free the 15 men who were on trial over the murder of the Ya Na, some NDC youth went on rampage setting fire on NDC offices and other property in the metropolis to show their displeasure and accused the government and the President in particular for deceiving them and creating the impression that the government could find the killers of the king.

In the process, angry NDC youth warned President Mills who was to tour the Northern region on that same week not to set foot on Tamale but later revoked the edict and apologized to the government for the embarrassment caused.

However, the Nasara Youth Group alleged that those who offered the apology had been ‘compromised’ with money but could not state how much money was involved.

TUC Weeps for Hawkers

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday April 27, 2011.
The Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) has joined numerous civil society groups and other human rights organizations in condemning brutalities meted out to street hawkers in the recent exercise by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) aimed at decongesting the streets of Accra.

According to the AMA, activities of the hawkers particularly in the central business district of Accra have become a nuisance to the public and the assembly has vowed to prosecute any body found to be buying or selling on the streets.

But the TUC disagrees with the AMA and demanded “an immediate enquiry into these brutalities and the punishment of the perpetrators” by AMA guards nicknamed Rapid Response Unit in the course of the decongestion exercise.

A news release issued in Accra and signed by Kofi Asamoah, TUC General –Secretary said even though the attempts by the assembly to decongest the central business district of Accra of hawkers are laudable the haphazard manner in which the exercise is being carried out would never solve the issue of hawking.

“In the view of the TUC, assemblies must holistically tackle the congestion of our cities in a way that will ensure that the canker is dealt with once and for all rather than the piecemeal, erratic unsustainable and inhuman approach that is often adopted as and when it suits the assemblies.”

The TUC said the view of the assemblies and the government that the congestion of the cities is due to the activities of hawkers cannot be disputed “however, they must equally come to terms with the fact that it is a reflection of the absence and failure to put in place the appropriate macro-economic and explicit employment creation and business development policies needed to deal with the general question of providing decent work for the people.”

The TUC said any move towards removing hawkers from the streets must take into account, intensive education aimed at changing the attitude of street hawkers and provision of alternative livelihood.

It said it recognizes that there are no easy solutions to the challenges of hawking and urged the government to use considerable executive power to solve the problems.

“The TUC wishes to appeal to the AMA to consider the broader ramifications of the exercise and put measures in place to ensure that at the end of the day, the exercise will not create other problems that will be much more difficult to deal with than the problem of hawking on our streets.”

“Any attempt to remove hawkers from the streets without any alternative livelihood, may push them into activities that could have serious repucursions on the peace and security of the Ghanaian society as a whole.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Economist Proposes Ban On Mining

Dignitaries at the IEA forum (L to R): Nana Dr. SKB Asante, ET Mensah, Dr. JK Kwakye and Dr. Kwadwo Tutu (main speaker).

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday April 21, 2011.
A Senior Economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Dr. Kwadwo Tutu is proposing a ban on mining if activities of mining companies and others in the extractive sector do not aid or improve the country’s economy.
“If you factor the environmental cost into the activities of mining companies it is better to close the mines. We should confront the investors in the extractive sector because they are just destroying the environment without any improvement in our economy. They do not support any effort towards sustainable development.”
Dr. Tutu was delivering a paper on Tuesday in Accra titled, “Towards a long-term national development plan for sustainable development.”
The lecture was organized by the IEA, a policy think tank as part of the broad consultations to ensure that they make inputs into the on-going Constitutional Review process.
The Senior Economist said Ghana receives only 22 per cent of the about $3 billion worth of gold produced in the country annually noting “if we do not get about 66 per cent of gold produced to boost the economy we have no business allowing the mining companies and others in the extractive sector to operate.”
“If you have policies that allow the extractive sector to cut down all your forest without taking into account how it will benefit your economy and also not affect your environment negatively then there is no need to allow them to operate.”
He said Ghana’s economy has not changed structurally due to the lack of long-term development strategy or plan for the country adding “there is no link between the extractive sector and the main economy.”
He said any development plan formulated should lead to sustainable development, which should also be nationally owned by all.
“Close to four decades this nation has seen short and medium term strategies that in the long run have led us to a dislocated economy. There is no structure in the economy. We do not see where we are going as a nation especially when we have struck oil.”
He said the time has come for the government to empower and strengthen the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to help implement long term development plans of the nation.
Enoch Teye Mensah, Minister of Employment and Social Welfare and Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo Prampram, who chaired the forum, said government must strengthen its manpower and human resources to be able to harness the numerous resources of the country.”
“We are sitting on so much resource which we have not been able to harness. We need to mobilize all our resources to be able to implement strategies for national development.”
Mike Hammah, Minister for Lands, Forestry and natural Resources and MP for Winneba, said there was the need to increase local content in the mining sector so that the country could benefit more.

20 more constituencies coming

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday, April 21, 2011
The Electoral Commission (EC) is expected to create at most 20 constituencies given the results of the 2010 Population and Housing Census.

According to the United Nations (UN), a country with a land size of that of Ghana cannot have more than 250 constituencies but judging from the recent population increase, the EC anticipates an additional 20 constituencies to augment the existing 230.

This came to the fore at an Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting with the EC in Accra last Tuesday.

The leadership of four political parties with representations in parliament including the National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP) and People’s National Convention (CPP) meet the EC regularly to plan for future election and last Tuesday’s meeting was heavily attended.

Dr Kwabena Adjei and Johnson Asiedu Nketia, Chairman and General Secretary respectively represented the NDC while Jake Obetesebi-Lamptey, Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie and O.B. Amoah, Chairman, General Secretary and a member of the Party’s election committee represented the NPP with Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan and Atik representing the PNC.

According to Daily Guide sources, David Adenze Kanga who chaired the meeting was reported to have said that the creation of new constituencies would have to be done 12 months before the 2012 general elections but the commission was awaiting the release of the 2010 Population and Housing Census from the Ghana Statistical service before going ahead to do the creation.

It said he told them that if the commission relies solely on population size to do the creation as prescribed by Article 47(5) of the 1992 Constitution then some regions could lose seats but that would not be prudent and assured that the EC would take into consideration all factors before taking a decision.

The source said Mr. Kanga further said the commission has submitted GH¢ 80 million as it budget for the 2012 general elections and the government was yet to approve of it.

It said the Deputy Commissioner said Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning was expected to convene a donors meeting to raise funds to support the EC to plan for the elections.

Mr. Kanga told the leadership of the parties that electronic voting would not be applicable in the 2012 general elections but said the commission was likely to commission biometric voters registration.

On April 4, 2011, Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, a Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations at the EC also made similar statement when a Mozambican delegation paid a courtesy call on the EC to study how Ghana’s electoral body functions.

The visit of the 10 member Mozambican delegation made up of senior politicians was facilitated by the Netherland Institute for Multiparty Democracy under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a policy think tank.

“We have not taken the decision to increase the constituencies as yet but we are all aware that the population has increased. We are waiting for the official census figures and as soon as we get it, the EC will determine how new constituencies would be created,” Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, a Deputy Commissioner of the EC said.

Women meet to bring peace to NR

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday April 21, 2011.
A workshop aimed at involving women in conflict prevention efforts in the Northern Region has ended at Bimbila in Kpandai in the Kpandai District of the Northern Region with a call on all stakeholders to encourage women in peace building mechanisms.

It was organized by the Tamale Ecclesiastical Province Pastoral Council (TEPPCON) with sponsorship from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) under the theme, “Conflict prevention in the Northern regions: Role of women.”

A similar workshop was also organized at Bimbila in the Nanumba North District to sensitize more women on the need to join peace building efforts in the northern regions.

Opening the workshop, which was attended by about 50 participants from various women groups and other civil society organizations, Jasper Moayi Jatoh, District Chief Executive (DCE) for Kpandai, said the time has come for all stakeholders to collaborate to ensure that conflicts become a thing of the past.

He said conflicts are preventable and therefore the people should always work towards curbing this menace which has the potential to set communities apart and derail rapid development.

The DCE said as a result of conflicts in the region, many essential service providers such as doctors, nurses and teachers, among others, continue to seek transfers out of the area while others refuse postings to the area.

He said as part of their commitment to make the district a haven of peace, the assembly has established justice and peace committee to deal with what he terms “all nagging conflicts” in the area.

He urged the people to co-exist peacefully and commended KAS for their effort to help in peace building efforts in the country.

A Minister of State and Member of Parliament (MP) for Kpandai Likipalmor, Kojo Tawiah said the best way to reduce conflict is for the people to respect the views of others and ensure tolerance.

He said “investors and development partners are not attracted to invest in conflict-prone areas and this draws back the clock of progress and stifle economic growth and business activities which should have ended the endemic poverty in the area,” he added.

The MCE commended TEPPCON, KAS and other development organizations for their persistent efforts towards the development of the area, adding, “It is heartwarming for women to play a leading role in the promotion of peace and development in Dagbon.”

Dr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah, Senior Programmes Manager of KAS, appealed passionately to the people, particularly the youth not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to foment trouble to satisfy their parochial interests.

He said politicians, who preach violence, must not be entertained by the electorate and said the role of politicians and political parties is to create an enabling environment for the people to create wealth.

Dr. Owusu-Mensah said KAS is focusing on women for peace building because principally women have considerably contributed to the fight against conflicts and the perpetrators are their husbands, children, uncles and brothers.

He said conflict prevention should not be the sole responsibility of the government, saying “it is time for all persons to actively get involved through their minimal contributions towards peace and development.”

Agnes Gandaa, TEPPCON Partnership Coordinator, urged the authorities in the northern sector to tackle the increasing threat posed by Fulani herdsmen, noting that “they are now found everywhere in the three regions and are causing all sorts of troubles.”

Most Reverend Philip Naameh, the Tamale Metropolitan Archbishop, who chaired the workshop, appealed to the people to strive for peace and unity to accelerate development of the area.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Company orders police/military attacks on community

Victim! Nabot Gyeatuo Kyenkyenku

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday April 19, 2011.
Concerned citizens of Saamang, a farming community near Osino in Akyem Abuakwa area of the Eastern Region, are calling for investigations into how an illegal mining company used the security agencies to unleash terror on them without any provocation.

According to residents, police officers and their military counterparts who wielded weapons, together with security men of Solar Mining Company, stormed Saamang on March 22, 2011 at night and brutalized residents for protesting against the destruction of their farmlands and other sources of livelihood by the company.

Nabot Gyeatuo Kyenkyenku, an Assembly Member of Saamang in the Fanteakwa District, who is leading a campaign to resist illegal mining in the area, told DAILY GUIDE that he was arrested and molested by the arresting team and was particularly manhandled by the Solar Mining Company security personnel, claiming that some of them wore military fatigues and wielded guns and axes.

He said in all 11 residents including two children aged 12 were arrested and kept in the Anyinam Police Cell, claiming that the police allegedly poured cold water on the floor before asking them to sleep there.

He mentioned Kwame Jones and Yaw Afrifa as some of the people who sustained injuries as a result of the brutalization.

Mr. Gyeatuo said it took the intervention of the Anyinam District Police Commander, Reverend Opoku and the District BNI officer to secure their release, commending the officers for their respect for human rights.

“We embarked on a peaceful demonstration on February 18, 2011 to draw the attention of the authorities to the spate of destruction of our farms by Solar Mining and after about a month the company brought in the security agencies and its own security to teach us a lesson.

“They entered the town at about 8:30 pm and started shooting indiscriminately, moving from house to house to arrest people. They used an axe to break down my door and picked me up whilst my wife and children screamed.”

“As far we know, the company is operating illegally without acquiring the necessary legal documents like Environmental Permit since the communities have not been involved in any environmental impact analysis process of the company.

“The illegal operation of Solar Mining is destroying the environment and polluting water bodies as well as our sources of livelihood,” they claimed.

“The company has constructed a dam on the headwaters of River Anoma and the company’s operations are polluting another river called Akosu. These two rivers serve as the source of drinking water for the people of Saamang, Juaso, Osino and other surrounding villages.”

He said Saamang has been selected among 15 communities in the Fanteakwa District by Cadbury for financial and technical aid for cocoa growing areas and any attempt to embark on surface mining would destroy the livelihood of the people.
Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of WACAM, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) fighting against irresponsible mining in the country, said there is increasing lawlessness in the mining sector and called on the government to tighten its mining laws.
“Once gold price is going up those in the mining sector are going to have a lot of wealth at their disposal and this would open the floor for a lot of illegal activities leading to widespread human rights and environmental abuses.”

He said if care is not taken these illegal miners could fuel violent conflicts in communities and areas where they face resistance from the local people because there is the tendency to unleash their ill-gotten wealth by getting the agencies to act on their behalf.

Monday, April 18, 2011

AG’s Office Accused of Meddling in Trial

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday April 18, 2011.
A case in which the Kumasi High Court 7, presided over by Justice R.C. Azumah, was just about to give judgement has been stopped on orders from the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

The court was accepting addresses from both the prosecution and defense counsel to determine the guilt or otherwise of Kusi Nsiah, a car dealer in Kumasi when Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ebow Barton-Odro ‘intervened’ by filing a Nolle Prosequi to discontinue the case on February 4, 2011.

The AG’s action has once again raised serious questions about the independence of the judiciary in the administration of justice.

The complainant, Regina Yorke, a business woman domiciled in the United States and her husband, Stephen Kwarteng say they suspect foul play on the part of the AG’s Department.

Narrating her wife’s ordeal to DAILY GUIDE on Friday, Mr. Kwarteng, who was distressed, said, “It has become necessary for me to go public with an issue which has come to symbolize the blatant abuse of power by the Attorney General of the Republic with the potential to corrupt the criminal justice system in the country.”

He said his wife ships cars into the country and in 2008 brought an Acura MDX, which was cleared from the ports but was never delivered to her.

“Following investigations by both the BNI and the police, one Kusi Nsiah, a car dealer with whom she had been in previous business transactions, was charged with the theft of the vehicle and arraigned before High Court 7 in Kumasi.”

The case began on March 10, 2009 and the trial was heading for its conclusion with the final defense witness giving evidence on April 27, 2010 when the trial judge adjourned proceedings to June 2, 2010 for counsel to make their final submissions.

On June 2, 2010, the court was taken by surprise with an announcement by prosecutor that he had received a letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions to stop further hearing.

The case from that day was never heard again until February 10, 2011 when a Nolle Prosequi, under the signature of the Deputy Attorney General, Ebow Barton-Odro was delivered to the court, terminating all proceedings.

As a result the accused was set free without the court having the opportunity to pronounce his guilt or otherwise in accordance with the evidence before the court.

Mr. Kwarteng said when the prosecution concluded its case defense counsel filed an application for ‘Submission of no case” which was dismissed by the court and was ordered to open his defense because a prima facie case had been established against him.

He said the defense counsel appealed against the trial court’s decision and the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and the accused had to open his defense where he brought other defense witnesses.

He said when they sensed that justice was being delayed, he petitioned the Director of Public Prosecutions to enquire the reasons for the Attorney General's office to interfere in a perfectly normal judicial process.

“In spite of my petition and after waiting for nearly a year, the Attorney General decided not to allow the court to judge the case on its merits, but to use political power to curtail a normal judicial process. In my view this raises an alarm flag about the blatant abuse of power and the propensity to subvert the judicial process with the potential to corrupt the system of justice in the country.”

He said “by his unwarranted intervention, the Attorney General was not only launching assault on the judicial system, but he indirectly undermined the integrity of the respected trial judge.

“What interest was the intervention of the Attorney General intended to serve?”

He said the AG’s action showed that he was either expressing a lack of confidence in the capacity of the respected judge to come to a just and fair decision, or that he was simply resolved to save the accused for reasons unrelated to the demands of justice.

He said there is a complainant in this case who has suffered the loss of a valuable car and the car has been in the wrong hands for the past three years therefore one would have thought that if the Attorney General had genuine reason to intervene in the case, the complainant, who is the victim and a witness of the state, would be made aware of it.

He called on the judiciary, the bar association and civil society to take note of “these grave failings and demand accountability from the Attorney-General and his team”.

Convicted Mormons freed

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday April 16, 2011.
Two missionaries attached to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints popularly called Mormons who were jailed for defiling a 14 year old girl have been acquitted and discharged by an Accra High Court.

The two, Omale Ojonugwu Uwa aka Elder Omale, 25 of Nigeria and Thatayaone Keeng aka Elder Keeng, 20 from Botswana were given ten and seven years jail terms respectively by an Accra Circuit Court presided over by Mrs. Georgina Mensah Datsa but the High Court presided over by Justice C.A. Wilson said the trial court was wrong in convicting the missionaries.

Counsel for the convicts, Kwabena Addo Attuah appealed against the sentences at the High Court and Justice Wilson set aside the judgement of the trial court and said he will give his reasons for the decision later.

They were arraigned before the Circuit Court charged with four counts of conspiracy and defilement but the trial court did not find them guilty on the third count where the particulars of offence stated that on April 5, 2010, the two missionaries defiled the victim.

Elder Omale was however found guilty on counts one, two and four where the particulars of offense said on March 10, 2010, he agreed or acted together with common purpose to commit crime and on February 2010, defiled the victim.

Elder Keeng on the other hand was found guilty on counts one and two where the particulars of offence he agreed or acted together with common purpose to commit crime and on February 2010, defiled the victim.

Not satisfied with the decision, Mr. Attuah appealed on behalf of the Mormons and succeeded in getting the High Court to quash the conviction.

He argued that the trial judge erred in convicting his clients when the prosecution had failed to establish a case beyond reasonable doubt against them.

“The evidence led by the prosecution was fraught with inconsistencies. For instance, the prosecution could not produce a birth certificate to prove the alleged victim’s age yet the trial judge went ahead to convict my clients.”

He said the prosecution only brought a weighing card in place of a birth certificate and there were three different birth dates on the card adding “it is pertinent to note that apart from the uncorroborated and thus unreliable evidence of the second prosecution witness, none of the testimonies of the other prosecution witnesses connected my clients with the commission of the crime.”

Counsel said “the verdict of the court is unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence on record in view of the serious conflicts and discrepancies contained in the case of the prosecution against the appellants herein.”

“The trial judge occasioned a miscarriage of justice when she misdirected herself in law and breached the rule of natural justice.”

The facts of the case as presented by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sarah Ekua Acquah were that on February 1, 2010, Elder Omale after calling the victim under the pretext of sending her on an errand, asked her whether she had ever been kissed, to which she responded in the negative.

She said Elder Omale called the victim to his room and defiled her after which Keeng, who was in the room and witnessed the act, also took his turn.

After satisfying themselves, they warned the victim not to disclose the ordeal to her mistress otherwise she would be sent back to the village.

ASP Acquah said on another occasion, March 10, the complainant asked the victim to fetch some water from a polytank in the compound.

But the victim could not find key to the polytank and went to the accused persons for their key but they denied it was in their possession.

ASP Acquah said that in the process, the accused persons defiled the victim again but a friend of the complainant saw the victim enter the accused persons' room.

The prosecution said the complainant asked the victim what the accused persons invited her for.

ASP Acquah said that the victim said she had been defiled by the accused persons.

The prosecution said the case was reported to the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service.

ASP Acquah said that medical examination indicated that the girl' hymen had been broken.

Ghana in Lightning Zone

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday April 17, 2011.
GHANA IS one country whose location close to the equator makes it vulnerable to lightning according to Aplicaciones Technologicas S.A., a Spanish lightening protection firm.

Pablo Gracia, Marketing and Distribution Development Manager of Aplicaciones Technologicas explained that due to Ghana’s location, the country is more prone to thunder strikes than any other in the West African sub-region.

He said there are at least more than ten 10 lightning strikes per square kilometer every year and this places Ghana in the zone of heavy thunder storms which he described as “very dangerous.”

Mr. Gracia disclosed this to DAILY GUIDE at an exhibition mounted by Elijones Enterprise in Accra to sensitize the public particularly engineers on new lightning protection gadgets developed by Aplicaciones Technologicas.

He said the new technology is suitable for all facilities and buildings and has external lightning protection, overvoltage protection, earthing, exothermic welding and other preventive protections.

Mr. Gracia said even though there are traditional methods of protecting buildings and other structures, the new technology protects larger areas and predicts lightning strikes better adding “in Ghana there is a very high possibility of lightning strikes and we need devices that can predict these strikes ahead of time.”

“This new technology monitors the electricity in the air to prevent death and equipment damage, as well as provide protection for large areas around a structure, not just the structure itself.”

He said in many parts of the world the technology has already been put in operation and is protecting such places as worship centers, financial institutions, airports, military compounds, high-rise buildings, stadia and residential facilities.

Alhaji Amadu Sorogho, MP for Abokobi Madina Constituency and Chairman of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) Council who was at the exhibition said in the light of this revelation, there was the need to take immediate steps to ensure that Ghana’s facilities, installations and buildings are protected from these natural happenings.

“We will do our best to give AT all the legal backing we can, provided that it meets certification standards because I know for sure that this technology will benefit our country,” he said.

“It is easier to destroy buildings than to build them, so if we can protect against destruction, that is a good thing especially as we are challenged by an energy crisis where there are power surges affecting and damaging people’s equipment,” he added.

Friday, April 15, 2011

CHRAJ Honours Four

The award winners with other dignitaries (from left to left: Betty Ayagibah, Ethel Mac-Harrison, Reverend Father Andrew Campbell,Juliana Azumah Mensah,Solomon Joojo Cobbinah, Justice SA Brobbey, Anna Bossman and Matthew Johnson.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday April 15, 2011.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on Wednesday night in Accra awarded four personalities at its maiden Human Rights Defenders’ Awards.

According to CHRAJ, the activities of the four namely Betty Ayagibah of Widows & Orphans Movement (WOM), Ethel Mac-Harrison of Women in the Lord’s Vineyard (WITLOV), Reverend Father Andrew Campbell, who is in charge of the Weija Leprosarium and Solomon Joojo Cobbinah, a journalist with TV3 Network, impacted positively on the fundamental human rights of other people.

Giving reasons for instituting the awards, which was well attended, Anna Bossman, Acting Commissioner of CHRAJ said it was to celebrate individuals who in their own ways were helping to make life better for others.

She said “these are individuals who, sometimes at great personal cost, have made it their objective to defend and promote fundamental human rights and freedom in their community in their village, in the city, in their country, in short in whatever corner of the world that they find themselves.

She said the promotion of human rights is everybody’s business adding “human rights are not just a buzz phrase or an abstract concept; it is the respect for humanity and the dignity of the human being. Thus respect for and the enforcement and
fulfillment of human rights are roles and responsibilities that must be shared.”

Ms. Bossman said although the commission is the lead agency in the protection and promotion of human rights there are many people and organizations that have excelled in defending human rights in various ways, noting “we do not often hear of them in the media or in public places and so their invaluable contribution, commitment and dedication is overlooked, unrecognized and underestimated.”

“Our vision is to have a society that is truly free, just and equitable, where human rights and the dignity of the human being are respected, where power is accountable and governance is transparent.”

Juliana Azumah Mensah, Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, who was the guest of honour, said it is appropriate to recognize the contribution of people who fight for the rights of others saying “we should identify human rights defenders to motivate others to also respect the rights of people.”

She said human rights and dignity of people should be of interest to everybody regardless of their status in society and commended the award winners for fighting to make Ghana a better place.

The Acting British High Commissioner to Ghana, Matthew Johnson, whose outfit is collaborating with CHRAJ to organize the awards, said the United Kingdom (UK) and Ghana share a wide range of values including the promotion of human rights and human dignity adding “we should continue to collaborate towards realizing the dreams of our people.”

Rev. Father Campbell said the rate at which the poor and vulnerable in society are neglected is unacceptable and called on all to rethink the manner in which the poor are treated.

While Betty Ayagibah was awarded for assisting orphans and promoting the welfare of widows, Ethel Mac-Harrison was recognized for spearheading community project mobilization, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Father Campbell was recognized for his continuous support for lepers, vulnerable children and the poor, while Solomon Joojo Cobbinah was honoured for using journalism to promote and protect fundamental human rights. They were given plaques.

Ayariga for President

David Apasera (2nd left), Hassan Ayariga (Middle) and T.F. Bitie-Ketting (2nd right) at the news conference.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday February 15, 2011.
A 40 year-old entrepreneur, Hassan Ayariga has entered the race to contest as flagbearer of the beleaguered People’s National Convention (PNC) which Dr. Edward Nasigri Mahama has led for four consecutive elections without success.

The late Dr. Hilla Liman’s PNC which has performed poorly in elections since 1992 is currently beset with serious internal wrangling over which executives should lead the party.

Two factions have been created by Dr. Mahama and Alhaji Ramadan on one side and Somtim Tobiga and others on the other and they are currently slugging it out in court over who has the right to run the affairs of the party.

In the midst of the confusion, Hassan Ayariga who was the party’s Chairman in Europe has entered the fray to present himself as “the unifier” who can restore the PNC’s lost glory.

At a news conference at Christ the King in Accra yesterday, Mr. Ayariga said “ever since former President Liman left the party, the PNC has encountered several challenges which have hindered our collective effort to transform the party into a major political force with significant representation in Parliament.”

He said “the PNC’s share of the national vote in presidential elections have been nothing to write home about so I have decided to play a frontline role in the leadership of the party so that we can collectively restore hope.”

“I want to deliver a new Ghana to our people. I am calling for personal sacrifice discipline and hard work and we will make the PNC a very strong force.”

Mr. Ayariga said he will take steps to reconcile the factions within the PNC to present a united front.

David Apasera, former PNC MP for Bolgatanga who is supporting Mr. Ayariga’s candidature said it is clear that Dr. Mahama’s leadership has failed and there was the need to bring change to the party.

He said the PNC is sinking and it was time for change adding “we cannot sit down for internal wrangling to destroy our great party.”

He said the PNC and CPP merger is a possibility but it was up to the CPP to open its doors well because the PNC has already made compromises in the merger talks.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

NPP ‘MP’ Fails Test

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday April 14, 2011.
Contrary to allegations that some executives of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have been compromised in the Tema West Constituency, it has been confirmed that the man on whose behalf some polling station executives appear to be fighting is not a member of good standing in the party.

Checks by DAILY GUIDE revealed that Dr. Elvis Ebenezer Donkor was disqualified from contesting the NPP primary in Tema West because he has questionable identity that could embarrass the party.

Last Saturday some NPP polling station executives staged a demonstration on behalf of Dr. Donkor against the party’s executives, accusing them of corruption and bias.
They claimed the constituency’s election committee had favoured the incumbent, Irene Naa Torshie Addo and disqualified Dr. Donkor in order for Irene Addo to contest the NPP primary unopposed.

In the process, Ekow Sey, spokesperson for the group made allegation to the effect that Irene Addo had paid the NPP national executives GH¢ 48, 000 to influence the disqualification of Dr. Donkor, but Mr. Sey could not substantiate the allegation.
Several calls paced to him to substantiate the allegation failed to yield answers as he was very doggy.

Since then Mr. Sey has been playing hide and seek game with the DAILY GUIDE for him to substantiate his allegation.

Daily Guide investigation into the Tema West wrangling has established that when the constituency’s election committee announced the date for the vetting it set up it investigative machinery to look into the backgrounds of all the prospective candidates for consideration.

Subsequently, a letter dated March 25, 2011 and signed by Gabriel Manu the Metro Electoral Officer, Tema titled: “Confirmation of voter ID numbers and party agent list”, said “Dr. Elvis Donkor’s name cannot be traced in the S.O.S College with Polling Station Code C092204 at the Ottowa Electoral Area” as the applicant had allegedly claimed in his application forms.

The letter further said “Hon. Irene Naa Torshie Addo is captured in our voter ID number 22276961 registered at Star Kindergarten Preparatory School Code C092204 at Kaizer Electoral Area”.

The NPP also wrote to UK/Ireland branch of the party for confirmation of whether or not Dr. Donkor is a member of the branch in a good standing and a message sent on April 2, 2011 by Hayford Atta-Krufi, chairman said Dr. Donkor is not a registered member and therefore he is not known to them.

“The gentleman may have been domiciled in the UK but while he was here he neither joined nor visited NPP UK. I can therefore state on authority that he is not a member of NPP UK and Ireland.”

The committee also cross-checked from the national headquarters of the Electoral Commission on April 5, 2011and a response signed by Kwadwo Sarfo-Kantanka, Deputy Chairman in charge of Operations on April 7, 2011 replied: “The voter ID purported to belong to one Elvis Donkor is not known to our database which has the particulars of all registered voters in the country. The name is, therefore, not on the register of the polling station from where it purports to originate.”

Dr. Donkor then petitioned regional secretariat of the party and was re-vetted on April 6, 2011, but he was again disqualified because of his alleged questionable credentials.

A letter signed by Ato Williams, Chairman of regional Appeals Committee and copied to the national headquarters said “the committee finds that on the issue of the five years residence as required by Article 94 (b) of the National constitution, you do not qualify, as records available to the committee are inconsistent with your contention of being a resident once you have a home in the constituency.”

“The committee also finds that your explanation for not being a voter in the constituency was not convincing as your name does not appear to be on any record of the polling station you claim to have been working for.”

The committee also found that the ID card that Dr. Donkor tendered could not be validated adding “the committee therefore finds you not eligible to contest the forthcoming Tema West parliamentary primary.”

Several attempts to talk to Dr Donkor failed because he said was attending meeting at the NPP headquarters.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

EC to create more constituencies

The delegation discussing issues with Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka (right), a Deputy Commissioner of the EC.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday April 13, 2011.
The Electoral Commission (EC) anticipates the creation of more constituencies and thereby more members of parliament, given the results of the 2010 Population and Housing Census figures.

“We have not taken the decision to increase the constituencies as yet but we are all aware that the population has increased. We are waiting for the official census figures and as soon as we get it, the EC will determine how new constituencies would be created,” Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, a Deputy Commissioner of the EC said.

He was responding to question raised by a delegation from Mozambique who were at the EC headquarters in Accra on Monday to study how Ghana’s electoral body functions.

The visit of the 10 member Mozambican delegation made up of senior politicians was facilitated by the Netherland Institute for Multiparty Democracy under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a policy think tank.

Mr. Kantanka said the commission is planning to also create more polling stations to make the electoral process accessible to the electorate.

“We have plans to increase the current number of the polling stations to about 23,000 so that the electorate could feel our presence everywhere in the country.”

He reiterated the independence of the EC to the delegation saying “when it comes to the creation of constituencies and polling stations not authority tells us what to do. We do it base on the population figures available.”

“The last time we made such a move we increased the number of constituencies from 200 to 230. The power to create more constituencies has been given to us so we decide what is best for the country.”

Mr. Kantanka admitted that it has not been easy in the organization of elections in the country but said the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) had played a collaborative role the electoral exercise.

He said it is always prudent to organize both presidential and parliamentary simultaneously since a delay in one would ultimately affect the results of another.

The Deputy Commissioner also said turnouts in the various elections since 1992 have been encouraging and added that the EC is ready roll out the biometric voters registration exercise.

José Manuel de Sousa, leader of the delegation commended the EC for its achievements and said they would learn a lot from Ghana.

“We are in the process of reviewing our constitution as Ghana is also doing and we know that we can exchange ideas for the benefits of both countries.”

Politicians are fooling Dagombas

Mustapha Hamid delivering his lecture.
Some NPP stalwarts including their flag bearer Nana Akufo-Addo at the lecture.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday April 13, 2011.
Mustapha Hamid, an Islamic Studies Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast says that politicians, political parties and governments would never be able to find a permanent solution to the Yendi skin affair and appealed passionately to Dagombas to ignore them and seek peace.

“The back and forth will continue for a long time to come if not forever, if we (Abudu and Andani Gates) don’t take a decision that enough is enough. This conflict has to stop somewhere.”

Mustapha Hamid also a spokesperson for New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and a Director of the Danquah Institute, a policy think tank was delivering this year’s Ferdinand Ayim Memorial Lecture, the fourth in the series, themed: “Islam, Politics and Development: Negotiating the Future of Dagbon,” at the Alisa hotel on Monday.

The lecture which is organized annually in memory of the late Ferdinand Ofori Ayim, then high profile NPP government appointee who met his untimely death at Osino in the Eastern Region on April 7, 2006 on his way to Kwahu to arrange the Paragliding Festival; was attended by NPP stalwarts including Nana Akufo-Addo, Alan Kyerematen, Osafo Maafo, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Felix Owusu Adjapong, Oboshie Sai Coffie, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Sheikh IC Quaye among others.

Hamid said the time has come for the Abudu and Andani Gates to resolve the differences themselves because “no matter how well-meaning a government’s intervention is, it will leave one side of the divide bruised.”

“So they sit and lick their wounds and wait for a more ‘friendly’ government. And the cycle continues. Indeed none of the sides has ever perceived any government as an independent arbiter. Under the present circumstances, it the Mills administration has not presented itself as capable of independent arbitration.”

“These decades of haggling over succession in Dagbon, built up frustration on both sides of the chieftaincy divide. The Andani family had always been frustrated by the fact that twice in succession; they were denied the occupation of the skin in favour of Abudu candidates. The Abudus on the other hand, have since 1988, been frustrated by their inability to perform the funeral of the late Ya Na Mahamadu Abdulai.”

He said long before 2002 Dagbon was virtually sitting on a ‘powder keg’, which was waiting to explode adding “explode it did between March 25-27 2002” and it is explained by sociologists as the frustration-aggression theory.

Hamid said in the past two weeks, some people have been at pains to remind us that the events of 27th March, 2002 occurred “under the watch of President Kufuor”, as if it is a fact in dispute but said “even before President Mills and his NDC party would come into government, they ridiculed President Kufuor’s efforts, doubted his government’s sincerity and even alleged that the government had a hand in the death of the Ya Na.”

He said in the view of the NDC, finding the person(s) who killed the Ya Na is pre-requisite to reconciliation and peace saying “indeed this kind of politics has divided Dagombas into victims and villains, devils and saints, just and unjust. But, in a democracy people don’t go to jail because the President feels frustrated.”

He insisted that the way for progress and development of Dagbon is to intensify the process of reconciliation an called on all to support the work of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs to help to resolve the conflict.

“I support fully the call of the NPP and its leaders for the nation to go back to the work of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs and I am happy to note that over the weekend the pesewa has finally dropped and that the Government, through the agency of the Vice President, John Mahama, has gone to the Manhyia Palace to ask Otumfuo, the Asantehene, and the Committee of Eminent Chiefs to go back to work, their work deserves the support of all well-meaning Ghanaians.”

He said restorative justice as opposed to retributive justice (which the NDC prefers) should be pursued adding “I dare say that any other form of justice apart from restorative will continue to deepen the wounds and the chasm between these brothers.”

“I say to the Dagbon people; do not listen to those who tell you that you ought to seek vengeance by all means. Let us not compromise in the quest for peace, reconciliation and development,” he said.

He had a word for the youth of Dagbon: “We cannot carry into the future, the baggage of our ancestors and forebears.”

“We are Muslims, at least the majority of us. In Islam, there is no concept of original sin, by which the fathers eat the sour grapes and set the children’s teeth on urge. We cannot spend that time feuding or feeding on politicians’ ego. Let’s seek justice by all means. At the same time, let’s seek peace and reconciliation. After all, that is why we say, Asalamu Alaikum!”

Haruna Alhassan, Managing Director of Metro TV who spoke briefly on the topic: “Media as a tool for peace in the Dagbon” said the media needed to appreciate and understand the social dynamics in the Dagbon conflict.

“It is the lack of understanding of the people that some unscrupulous people including journalists have exploited that Dagbon continues to see no peace.”
He said the media should remind the factions that they are all brothers from one ancestor and always handle the issue with objectivity.

Professor Ken Agyemang Attafuah, a renowned criminologist critiquing Hamid’s lecture said among other things that in the contest of ethnic conflicts restorative justice is always superior to criminal justice.

Gabby Asare Okyere Darko, a Trustee of Ferdinand Ayim Foundation said the Mr. Ayim, before his untimely death was passionate about Dagbon, and indeed played an instrumental role in 2002, to bring down tensions in the aftermath of the death of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II.

He said this year’s lecture is in this regard dedicated to making a constructive contribution to the search for a lasting peace, reconciliation and development in Dagbon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Less women in trade unions - Study reveals

Kwasi Adu Amankwah (standing)launching the book. With him are Kofi Asamaoh (left) and Hilma Mote (right).

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday April 12, 2011.
The reasons why women do not fight for positions in the various trade unions is because most people, particularly men have negative perceptions about them and doubt their leadership capabilities and this tend to dampen their enthusiasm.

The few who brave the odds to survive and succeed are intimidated, discouraged, discriminated against and called all sorts of names, a research on “The status of women in trade unions in Africa has revealed.”

The research, which was conducted in eight African countries, including Ghana by the African Labour Research Network (ALRN), is seeking to create a level playing field and encourage women to take leadership positions in labour unions on the continent.

At the launch of the report in Accra on Friday, one of the lead researchers, Hilma Mote of Namibia said women’s involvement in trade union activities is not encouraging on the African continent, citing teachers and nurses unions as areas where women dominate but are underrepresented at the leadership level.

She said negative perceptions by males and some females about the ability of women to lead unions are discouraging potential women leaders, adding “we are not asking anything from the men…we are only soliciting for equal opportunities.”

“The men are quick to embrace gender equality measures but when it is time for implementation, they fail to internalize these principles.”

Ms. Mote said gender issues in the unions should be spearheaded by women who must encourage the men to be part of the crusade otherwise women would continue to be mere observers noting “the sensitization exercise should cut across the gender divide for the benefit of the trade union movement.”

“The unions should show signs of commitment in tackling gender inequalities. If unions are to be seen as human rights advocates and real agents for change then gender mainstreaming efforts should not be undermined.”

Discussing the report, Dr. Akua Britwum of the University of Cape Coast, said the gender advocacy deficit in Africa cannot be acceptable.

She said “this undermines the unions’ credibility to fight for the rights and welfare of workers. It is a legitimate call to talk about issues relating to women’s participation in position of leadership in the unions and how such issues should be addressed.”

Admitting that women participation in activities of trade union is low, Dr. Britwum attributed it to the lack of capacity building, low educational attainment, family responsibilities, domestic culture and the absence of role models.

“These are all inhibiting their desire to take up leadership positions in the unions,” adding “we should take pragmatic steps to deal with poor functioning of structures, weak infrastructural support and trade unions organizational culture”.

Veronica Ayikwei Kofie, first woman head of department of the Ghana TUC, who shared her experience, said there was no need for women to be confrontational in their quest to get leadership positions, saying “don’t fight the men…use persuasive language to get the men to your side.”

Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary of the Ghana Trade Union Congress (TUC), said the union has made an appreciable effort to integrate gender equality and there was the need to encourage more women.

Launching the report, Kwasi Adu Amankwa, former TUC Secretary General and now Secretary General of ITUC-Africa, said internalizing gender issues in the unions is a right and not a privilege.

Monday, April 11, 2011

AG calls for new judge in Ya Na Murder Trial

Martin Amidu is the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in Ghana
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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday April 9, 2011
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Martin Amidu wants the Court of Appeal to order a re-trial of the Ya Na’s case under a new judge.
Fifteen people were charged for the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon in March 2002 and were discharged and acquitted by a Fast Track High Court resided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal sitting as additional High Court judge.
The acquittal and discharge of the 15 men all from the Abudu gate in the protracted chieftaincy dispute in Yendi the traditional capital of Dagbon, has sparked heated political debate as a result of which the administration of justice has virtually come under siege, heating the political atmosphere.
The application for re-trial was in the form of a notice of appeal the AG filed on Thursday before the Court of Appeal in Accra.
In the notice deposed to by Ms. Gertrude Aikins, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) the AG said the prosecution is appealing the whole ruling where they will seek “to set aside the ruling of the High Court (Fast Track Division), Accra dated 29th March 2011 in CASE NO B.O.1 14/2010 given by His Lordship, Mr. Justice EK Ayebi sitting as an additional High Court Judge.”

Additionally, the prosecution which has become an appellant at this stage is asking the Court of Appeal “to order the re-trial of the respondents before the High Court differently constituted.”

In the grounds of appeal, AG said the trial judge erred in law in admitting the alleged proceedings of the Wuaku Commission as evidence with which to contradict the conclusive judgment of the adverse findings made by the Wuaku Commission under article 280 of the Constitution, 1992.

“The learned trial Judge erred in law in admitting the alleged proceedings of the commission as evidence to contradict the evidence of most of the witnesses for the prosecution whose evidence was consistent with the judgment contained in the Report of the Wuaku Commission against the same accused persons under article 280 of the Constitution, 1992.”

The AG said trial judge got it wrong in law when he made findings of law which were inconsistent with the adverse findings contained in the judgment of the Report of the commission under article 280 of the Constitution, 1992.

“The learned trial judge erred in law in admitting the Record of Proceedings in the Republic vrs. Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Gyamfo case as evidence for purposes of contradicting the evidence of the Prosecution witnesses in the face of the fact that that trial was inconsistent with article 280 of the Constitution, 1992 and the adverse findings contained in the Report of the Wuaku Commission.”

He said judge erred in law when he held that the charge of conspiracy to murder failed because the Ya Na’s death had not been positively proved at the trial.

“The learned trial judge misdirected himself on the law when he held that because the Abudus asserted that they fought a war with the Andanis, it followed that the Andanis who also fought were equally liable and therefore the fourteen (14) accused persons not only participated in the war which led to the death of the Ya Na, but could not be found liable for the offences charged upon evidence given by any prosecution witness who is an Andani.”

The AG said the trial judge approached the case with “a fundamental prejudice and bias” against any Andani prosecution witness and so disabled himself from an impartial assessment of the evidence before him which led him to the “erroneous” conclusion that the Andani witnesses appeared to him to be telling the whole world that any Abudu was potentially liable for the murder of the Ya Na when, in fact, none of the fourteen (14) accused persons was standing trial for the murder of the Ya Na.

“The learned trial Judge disabled himself from appreciating the true meaning of the expression ‘no evidence’ as used in section 271 of the Criminal and other offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30) in arriving at the erroneous conclusion that there was in law no evidence against the Respondents to call upon them to open their defense.”

The AG said the judge’s ruling “has occasioned a substantial miscarriage of justice.”

Those on trial were 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 DCE of Yendi in the erstwhile NPP regime as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th accused persons respectively.
The rest were 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.
They all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to murder, with Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest (A7) still at large facing an additional charge of murder.
Since the trial Fast Track High Court, Accra, presided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal on March 29, 2011 upheld the 15 men’s application for ‘Submission of no case’, the judiciary and the trial judge in particular have been subjected to incessant verbal abuse by elements in the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) who were dissatisfied with the ruling.
As if that was not enough, the Andani faction in the dispute also hit the streets of Accra on March 4, 2011 to demonstrate against the ruling, pressurize the judiciary into giving justice to the late Ya Na’s family and the judges on that day had to abandon the law courts for fear their lives as a result of the action of the group which calls itself Northern Youth for Justice.

The NDC has politicized the killing of the Dagbon Chief, promising to fish for the killers.
At page 34 of the NDC’s manifesto titled: “A better Ghana – Investing in people, jobs and the economy” and with sub-title “Protecting the people”, the party promised to among other things “Set up a new and truly non-partisan and independent Presidential Commission to re-open investigations into the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II and his elders in March 2002.”
The NDC also used the issue of the late Ya Na extensively in their campaign to win power in the 2008 general elections. NDC founder and former President Jerry John Rawlings was very vocal over the Ya Na issue calling for the jailing of the suspected killers.
However, instead of opening fresh investigations into the matter the NDC government arrested 15 people suspected to have been involved in the murder of Ya Na in Yendi and put them before a court in Accra.
The Abudus and Andanis have been engaged in a protracted chieftaincy dispute and it reached a deadly height leading to the death of the Ya Na and 29 others between March 25 and March 27, 2002.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Judges flee courts.....As Andanis hit streets

Fast Track High Court 21, popularly called Chief Justice’s Court was empty like all other courts yesterday.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday April 5, 2011
The administration of justice yesterday ground to a halt following the decision of judges to boycott courtrooms for fear of imminent reprisal attacks on them by a group of demonstrators in Accra.

Daily Guide learnt that the judges, both superior and junior, refused to sit because they feared for their personal security and safety.

They said there was credible information that people who were dissatisfied with the ruling by an Accra Fast Track High Court in the trial of the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon, were planning to attack the courts.

Coincidentally, the Northern Youth for Justice, an Andani Youth group involved in the protracted Dagbon chieftaincy dispute had hit the streets of Accra seeking to pressurize the authorities to give the late Ya-Na’s family justice. There was the belief that the demonstrators would storm the courts as most of the inscriptions on their placards were targeting at the judges.

The group among other things is accusing the trial judge, Justice E.K. Ayebi of the Court of Appeal, of truncating the trial by upholding a ‘Submission of no case' application filed by 15 men from the Abudu Gate, who had been charged for the murder of the Ya Na in March 2002.

Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood upon allegedly receiving intelligence report was said to have convened an emergency meeting with all the judges at about 9:05am, where they reviewed their security and personal safety and subsequently decided that they would not work until the safety and security of judges were guaranteed by the police administration.

At the meeting the CJ was reported to have told the judges that she could not guarantee their safety and security and said any judge who tried to sit on cases yesterday did so at his or her own peril.

Immediately after the said meeting closed at about 9:30am all the judges returned to their respective courtrooms and ordered the closure of the courts, while those who did not return only ordered their clerks to make sure the courts were locked before leaving the premises.

When Daily Guide visited the Supreme Court area where the Fast Track High Courts, Commercial Courts, Land Courts and Financial Court are all located, there was no action in the courtrooms, leaving litigants with no clue as to what was happening.

At the Fast Track High Court 4 where the Ya Na murder trial was held, the courtroom had been locked.

The 28th February Roads Courts, popularly called Cocoa Affairs, where it is always busy, and the Community Courts as well as the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal Court premises were all empty as a result of the judges’ actions.

At about 10:04am, a police armour car from the Armour Car Squadron was brought and positioned in front of the forecourt of the Supreme Court where the busts of the three murdered judges have been erected.

The presence of the vehicle with officers in riot control gear and equipment appeared to have confirmed the imminent danger that the judges complained about.

At about 12:07pm, the leadership of the demonstrators arrived at the administration block of the Judicial Service accompanied by some senior police officers to present their petition to the Chief Justice and were met by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex B. Opoku-Acheampong.

Mohammed Sulemana who read the petition did not understand why the Chief Justice was not there to meet the group saying in a very contemptuous way “our petition is as equal as any national assignment.”

He warned that if their grievances were not met “we will come back again” but did not explain what he meant by that statement.

Later when Daily Guide sought explanations from the Judicial Service as to the reasons why the judges abandoned the courts, the Judicial Secretary, said the judges came to work as usual but persistent announcements that the demonstrators would storm the courts to present a petition put the lives of the judges, the staff and the courts in danger.

“Following the announcements the there would be demonstrations,” Mr. Opoku-Acheampong said, “the CJ requested for special police protection for the judges and the courts and was assured by the Inspector General of Police that the police would be there.”

He continued: “The judges came to the courts alright but as at 9:30am there was no police presence. Some of the judges started expressing concern because they were aware that the police was supposed to be there and in their absence nobody could predict what the outcome would be.”

Justice Opoku-Acheampong confirmed that the CJ indeed convened an emergency meeting with the judges saying, “It was agreed that due to the lack of protection and volatile nature of the situation, judges who felt unsafe could go home.”

“Some of the judges had even started working but there was a lot of anxiety and apprehension. Once there is police protection they will be able to work.”

He disclosed that Justice Ayebi, who sat on the Ya Na trial, has been given additional police protection saying, “naturally any judge who presides over a case or ruling of this nature is supposed to be given adequate protection and that is what we have done”.

He emphasized: “We can only expect the police to protect the judiciary. It is not proper to verbally or physically attack judges because a decision of a court does not go your way. There are laid down rules for getting grievances resolved”.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Cephas Arthur, Acting Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service who was in the company of police officers escorting the Andani youth to present the petition to the judiciary dismissed rumours that the police administration had declined to offer protection to the judges.

“The IGP and the police administration are committed to protecting the judiciary to ensure that the administration of justice is not undermined.”

He said the police deployment to the courts “will be there for as long as it is necessary” adding “we are mandated to ensure that our judges and the judicial service staff is protected.”

Monday, April 04, 2011

Let’s implement Axle Load Policy – Gidisu

Joe Gidisu, Minister of Transport (middle) addressing the participants. With him are European commission representative (left), Celestin Talaki, (2nd left) of ECOWAS, Nigerian Minister of State (2nd right) and Alhaji Inusah Fuseini (right) deputy Minister of Energy.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday April 4, 2011.
The Minister of Transport, Joe Gidisu has made a passionate appeal to member states in Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to accept and implement of the axle load policy without delay.

“The benefits of the implementation of this policy can be fully realized if carried out in a concerted and harmonized manner,” he explained.

Mr. Gidisu was speaking in Accra on Friday at the closing of a three-day ECOWAS Ministers Meeting on “Axle load policy harmonization and project preparation and development unit”.

The Axle Load policies are meant to regulate the weight of loads on long trucks that ply inter-country trunk roads so as to protect the roads against destruction caused by overloading.

The three-day meeting brought together Infrastructure, Road and Transport Ministers within ECOWAS, road infrastructure experts and development partners.

They were expected to agree on an axle-load regulatory framework for implementation in the sub-region.

Such a regulatory framework has become necessary because many of development partners and donor agencies now demand regulations for the protection of road infrastructure as conditionality before advancing funds for road projects in developing countries.

Joe Gidisu, Minister of Roads and Highways, opening the meeting, said the overloading of trucks has been identified as one of the major factors contributing to the rapid deterioration of road networks.

This, he said, was a major concern for the government of Ghana and other governments in the sub-region, saying that the concern was justified because of the fast and premature degradation of roads as a result of overloading.

He said in Ghana a number of measures have been initiated to control axle load, but noted that there have been some challenges in enforcing axle load limits since truck owners, especially those from other countries that transit through Ghana, continue to flout the regulations.

“It has become apparent that the intensity of axle load limit enforcement in Ghana has resulted in the transit trucks from landlocked countries relocating to neighbouring coastal countries where strict enforcement is non-existent. As much as we will not relent in our efforts to reduce overloading, we wish to indicate that this trend raises a lot of concern to the country,” he said.

Mr. Gidisu said “in the absence of an effective rail transport system, road transport will continue to be dominant mode of transportation for goods, services and the people of the sub-region.”

He said the cost of transporting goods in the sub-region is increasing adding that “available information indicates that it costs between $2,500 and $3,500 to mover a 40 foot container from the Tema Port to Ouagadougou and it takes between four days up to two weeks in transit time.”

Celestin Talaki, ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Infrastructure Development, stressed the need of a harmonized regulatory system on axle load in the sub-region, saying that it would ensure successful implementation and enforcement.

A uniform transport regulatory system, he said, would also promote an effective transport system that could boost regional integration.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Ya Na Murder Trial…Chronology of events

The suspects leaving the court house after their freedom.
Posted on:

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday April 1, 2011

Saturday October 4, 2008, then opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) launched its manifesto at the Trade Fair Site, Accra for election 2008.

At page 34 of the manifesto titled: “A better Ghana – Investing in people, jobs and the economy” and with sub-title “Protecting the people”, the NDC promised among other things to “Set up a new and truly non-partisan and independent Presidential Commission to re-open investigations into the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II and his elders in March 2002.”

The NDC also used the issue of the late Ya Na very much in their campaign to win more seats in the Northern region and later ultimate political power in the 2008 general elections. NDC founder and former President Jerry John Rawlings was very vocal over the Ya Na issue.

Saturday April 10, 2010, children of the late Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, issued an ultimatum to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to find the killers of their late father within two months or face relentless demonstrations. This was at a lecture they organized in Tamale in memory of the late king.

On Sunday April 11, 2010, the security agencies started arresting those suspected to have killed the Ya Na. All those picked up were from the Abudu Gate in the Dagbon Chieftaincy dispute. About 41 people were arrested in Yendi at a dawn swoop by the combined team of police, military and National security.

On Monday April 12, 2010, the suspects were brought to Accra from the Northern Region and detained in various police stations after screening them in Bimbilla in the Nanumba North District of the Northern Region.

In May 2010, the accused were still in police custody without any trial.
In June 2010, Mohammed Habib Tijani, former District Chief Executive of Yendi during the erstwhile NPP regime was arrested at Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) where he was pursuing further studies.

Monday June 14, 2010, Alhaji Tijani, 45 appeared before the Adjabeng District Magistrate Court in Accra and was remanded into police custody. The charges preferred against him were not read in court.

Monday June 28, 2010, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah together with Tijani all appeared before the Magistrate Court. Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu (on admission at the Police Hospital in Accra) and Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, declared at large by the security agencies were those who could not attend court.

On the same day, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee is also brought to the court by the police but the prosecution realized that his name was not listed on the Bill of Indictment. The prosecution then sought an adjournment.

The court presided over by Ms. Patricia Quansah then indicted the other accused persons brought together with Leftee to be tried at a High Court at the request of the prosecution led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Ms. Gertrude Aikins.

Wednesday July 7, 2010, more suspects were hauled before the court. Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Sani Moro, Yakubu Yusif and Hammed Abukari Yussif were sent to Adjabeng District Magistrate Court to be indicted for a High Court, bringing to 14, the number of those penciled to stand trial.

Thursday July 15, 2010, the suspects were formally indicted to be tried by a Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice Anthony Oppong.

Tuesday August 17, 2010, all was set for the much-talked-about trial but Rexford Wiredu; a Principal State Attorney told the packed court that the Attorney General intends to raise an objection because they suspected the trial judge, Justice Oppong of bias.

Ebo Barton-Odro, Deputy Attorney General spoke on radio to claim that they have an audio recording of Justice Oppong vowing to throw out the case should he (Judge) be asked to handle it but the tape was never played.

On Monday August, 24, 2010, the case was called but Justice Oppong declined (recuse) to sit on it. He said following the threats by the Deputy Attorney General, he did not feel safe in the country. He described the Deputy AG’s actions as “useless propaganda”.

Thursday September 9, 2010, the case resumed with Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal as the new trial judge. All accused persons except Zakaria Forest at large were in the dock. They all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to murder but Zakaria Forest faced additional charge of murder. Andani and Abudu youth clashed in court on that day but heavy police presence prevented full scale violence.

Monday September 13, 2010, prosecution called Abukari Amadu, an employee of the First National Savings and Loans Limited in Tamale as its first witness. (He was at the Wuaku Commission).

Tuesday September 14, 2010, Ziblim Abdulai testified as the second prosecution witness (PW2). (He was at the Wuaku Commission).

Wednesday September 15, 2010, Wuaku Commission Report (The body set up by President John Agyekum Kufuor to investigate the entire Dagbon conflict which led to the murder of the Ya Na and his elders) held up the trial. Imrana Saibu, the third prosecution witness had mounted the witness’ box. The prosecution insisted that the defense team could not make references from the Wuaku Report to cross-examine Saibu because the report was not in evidence but the defense said they could do so because it forms the basis of the whole trial. Court overruled prosecution’s objection.

Friday September 17, 2010, trial court ruled that the Wuaku Commission Report was relevant to the trial and that defense counsel should take steps to authenticate the report before being tendered in evidence. Prosecution shocked the court when it said the AG’s Department did not have copies of the Wuaku Report.

Monday September 27, 2010, court accepted the Wuaku Commission Report as exhibit after it was authenticated saying the defense was able to comply with Section 162 (b) of the Evidence Decree (Act) and the prosecution had provided no document to contradict what defense counsel was seeking to tender in evidence. Saibu is then cross-examined by Philip Addison, lead counsel for the defense.

Tuesday September 28, 2010, Alhassan Yakubu aka Nat testified as the Fourth Prosecution Witness (PW4). (He was at the Wuaku Commission).

Wednesday September 29, 2010, fifth Prosecution Witness (PW5) Yakubu Mahama aka Puu Mahama, a security man at Tamale VAT office testified. (He was at the Wuaku Commission).

Monday October 4, 2010, the sixth Prosecution Witness (PW6) Iddrisu Mutawakil testified (He was at the Wuaku Commission).

Tuesday October 5, 2010, the Seventh Prosecution Witness (PW7), Wumbei Binchera testified. (He was not at the Wuaku Commission).

Wednesday October 6, 2010, prosecution failed to bring a witness to court.
Friday October 8, 2010, former accountant at the Yendi District Assembly, Alhaji Mustapha Imoro, testified as the eighth prosecution witness (PW8). (He was not at the Wuaku Commission).

Tuesday October 12, 2010, the ninth Prosecution Witness (PW9) Mohammed Achana Abdul Salaam aka Red, a labourer at the Survey Department in Tamale who claimed to be the Ya Na’s bodyguard testified. He was not a Dagomba but admitted he fought in defense of the Ya Na. He was the one who used the G3 weapon. (He was at the Wuaku Commission).

On Wednesday October 13, 2010, Brigadier General Dr. Jaswant Mante Wadhwani (Rtd), the pathologist who performed autopsy on the body believed to be that of the Ya Na testified. (He was at the Wuaku Commission).

On Thursday October 14, 2010, the prosecution failed to re-examine Dr. Wadhwani as promised.

On Monday October 18, 2010, the prosecution could not decide on which of the investigators, Detective Inspector Augustus Nkrumah and Detective Inspector Charles Adaba could give evidence so case was adjourned.

On Tuesday October 19, 2010, Detectives Nkrumah and Adaba gave separate testimonies.
On Monday October 25, 2010, prosecution brought to court boxes containing audio and video recordings of proceedings of the Wuaku Commission which they had earlier on denied its existence. Court could not continue with the trial because there were no witnesses.
On Thursday
October 25, 2010, prosecution failed to bring witnesses as promised.
On Wednesday October 27, 2010, the prosecution for the second time failed to bring more witnesses as promised.

On Tuesday, November 2, 2010 the prosecution for the third time failed to bring more witnesses as promised.

November 5, 2010 prosecution finally closed its case and the defense indicated to the court that the accused persons intended to file submission of no case. The court then ordered the registrar to make available to the defense all the proceedings of the trial before November 12, 2010.

On Tuesday, November 23, 2010 just as defense counsel was to move application for Submission of No Case, the prosecution made fresh application to have the case re-opened to enable them to call more witnesses because they claimed one Moses Nsor aka Atia has audio recordings of the sixth accused person (Alhassan Braimah) confessing to have killed the Ya Na.

On Monday November 29, 2010 prosecution moved motion to have the case re-opened to enable them to call more witnesses.

On Monday December 6, 2010 defense opposed an application by the state to re-open the case to enable them to call more witnesses.

Wednesday December 8, 2010 the case could not be heard as scheduled because the machines used in recording the proceedings developed faults.

On Friday December 10, 2010 the instruments used to record the proceedings could not be fixed.

On Monday December 13, 2010 defense counsel moved a counter motion to stop the state from re-opening the case.

On Friday December 17, 2010 court dismissed the application to allow the prosecution to re-open the trial because the evidence they were seeking to lead would contradict the evidence led so far. The court said the evidence the prosecution was seeking to lead had no probative value and that the police knew about the existence of the said recording long before the prosecution closed its case judging from the documents filed by the prosecution to have the case re-opened.

On Monday January 31, 2011, defense counsel finally filed a written ‘Submission of no case’ application to have the case discontinued for lack of evidence against the accused.
Thursday F
ebruary 24, 2011, prosecution filed their written motion to oppose the ‘Submission of No Case Application’ filed by the accused persons.

On Friday March 4, 2011, the court fixed a definite date for ruling on whether or not the accused persons have a case to answer.

On Tuesday March 22, 2011, there was no show at the trial as the judge who was expected to deliver the ruling on the ‘Submission of no case’, said he was not ready. The accused persons were not brought to court either.

On Tuesday March 29, 2011, the court acquitted and discharged all the 15 accused persons including Zakaria Forest, still at large because the prosecution failed to establish a case beyond reasonable doubt against them.

In all, 12 prosecution witnesses (two police investigators - initial and current - the pathologist who performed an autopsy on the charred remains believed to be that of the Ya Na as wells as nine others all from the Andani Royal Gate) testified in the trial.

The defense team was comprised of Philip Addison, Ata Akyea, Kwame Akufo and Abukari Yakubu while Ms. Aikins, Mr. Wiredu and Solomon Atadze both Principal State attorneys handled the case at different stages of the trial.