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Opinions Sun, 28 Sep 2008

Prof Karikari Hit Nail Right On The Head; They Hate The Truth

It was around 12:00 in the hot afternoon on Wednesday March 27th 2002 when Joy FM and most radio stations in Accra announced the sudden murder and beheading of the Dagbon king, Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II. According to Joy, they got the news from the Ministry of Information.

I was fast asleep then as I just returned from the north the previous night after a long journey. My auntie who couldn’t believe the news quickly woke me up to listen. Just afterwards we got numerous calls from our family members abroad wanting to know whether the news was really true as they had also just heard it on BBC and on the internet. I couldn’t believe it, so I quickly called a Communication Centre where I usually spoke with my grandmother at Zohi, a suburb of Yendi where my mother comes from. The phone line was off upon countless trials. I changed to call a different line near the Yendi market where an uncle has a store and there too was the same. I resorted to call Tamale since Tamale is closer to Yendi as such they might have the information. I spoke to three people at three different locations and they all said it was never true. That the Yaa Naa was never murdered and so we concluded may be it was a misinformation.

However, we were very skeptical and phone calls kept coming from friends and relatives both in Ghana and abroad. We never believed it until 7:00pm when it was the major news item on GTV and the subsequent address the president broadcasted to the nation immediately afterwards. In his address, the president, J.A. Kufour described it as a heinous crime and that his government would do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to book.

Indeed, the people of Tamale as well as the surroundings of Yendi never even had the first hand information of what was going on but strangely the Ministry of Information knew of everything since Joy said they got the news from that ministry. Tamale residents however, got to know of it only at 6:00pm from GBC radio news.

On the said day that the heinous crime took place, some people in and around Yendi confirmed that the four main roads leading to Yendi were barricaded by heavily armed military men. One could neither enter Yendi nor come out. It was a masterly planned execution by experts hence, the reason why even Tamale residents could not hear of what was happening though countless number of commercial and private vehicles piles the Tamale-Yendi road daily.

It is said that the attack on the palace that sad day began midnight before the king was finally murdered in the early hours of the day. Afterwards, the perpetrators danced with the severed body and sent his head to a self-claimed Bolin Lana who has massive support from the ruling NPP.

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Surprisingly, the Gbewaa Palace is situated in a locality where the police station and the prison yard as well as their various barracks are together. It is thus a walking distance of about 500m from the police station to the palace. In any case if the police in Yendi were ill-equipped, couldn’t they have sought for assistance from Tamale since it is about an hour drive from Tamale to Yendi bearing in mind that it took several hours before the king was finally killed?

For the benefit of doubt, let’s assume the people who committed the crime were more powerful and well armed than the police, as such they couldn’t be apprehended. However, some three days afterwards, two guys who were seen dancing around with the severed head of the king were spotted in Tamale and were thus apprehended by civilians and sent to the police station. Upon the recommendation of the Wuaku Commision, these two guys were sent to Accra and prosecuted but were later discharged for wrong charges and the usual lack of evidence like the recent Gushegu case.

The Yendi District Chief executive, Mohammed Tijani was seen by many people holding a gun during that day. He’s reported to have been boasting that if he’s arrested, then president Kufour would also be arrested. He only knows why he means by that and truly, after the crime those government appointees who were alleged to be involved were all relieved of their post apart from Tijani.

Dear readers, it is exactly six and half years since the heinous crime took place and up till date not even a single sole has been apprehended and brought to justice in contrary to what the president pledged to all Ghanaians in his broadcast to the nation immediately after the crime.

As the saying goes “justice delayed is justice denied” and also let justice be and absolute peace would definitely prevail to all.

Indeed, just about a week after the heinous crime, some youth of Tema vandalized the Tema Matse’s palace and in less than 24hrs about twenty-five of them were arrested by the police. Why was the same not done in Yendi or we have different set of police and people?

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In the light of the few submissions above, although there are so many numerous questions unanswered, can the following few questions therefore be asked?

1. Who informed the Ministry of Information of the murder? 2. Why was the telephone lines to Yendi put off? (NB: Yendi didn’t have mobile phone network that time) 3. Who put the telephone lines off? 4. Why were the roads leading to Yendi blocked and people prevented from coming out and going into Yendi? 5. Why didn’t the police intervene when it is just a stone throw from the Gbewaa palace to the police station? 6. Why couldn’t the police call for reinforcement from Tamale? 7. Why the DCE is still at post and still boasts that if he’s arrested, president Kufour would also be arrested? 8. Why were the two guys found with some parts of the king’s body discharged? 9. Couldn’t the person the king’s head was sent to be a source of information for the murderers or is he himself not one? 10. Why hasn’t the president acted on his promise after the address?

I hear and read these days of the comparison some people make between the murder of the Yaa Naa & his subjects and that of the Konkomba-Nanumba war in 1994. For God sake, how do you compare the two? This was a case of a war between two ethnic groups over a piece of land. Indeed, they all mobilized and faced each other on the battle ground with each group recording several casualties. It took the combine military cum police “Operation Gongong” team sometime to bring the war to a peaceful end. In the heat of that war, ex-president Rawlings traveled on a helicopter and met the two factions for peace to prevail which finally materialized. Can somebody tell me that at least a single sole of the attackers on the Gbewaa palace was lost? Absolute NO! How can the attack on the Gbewaa palace be a war when not a single sole was killed from the other side? In any case, was the Konkomba-Nanumba war a justification for the murder of the Yaa Naa?

The Okyenhene, one of the prominent chiefs in the country spoke with Peace FM immediately after the crime and condemned it to the ultimate and called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators. Though I can’t recall his exact words, he made mention of the immediate arrest of those perpetrators and bringing them to book in order not for it to repeat anywhere in the country. However, afterwards, may be he’s realized the direction in which the case is heading and has also chosen to be mute on it since.

The Ghana National Teachers Association (GNAT) of which the late Yaa Naa was once a member also issued a statement condemning the murder and called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.

Apart from the above, human right groups, religious bodies and civil society groups who were very vocal in cases of human right abuses especially the Ghana Bar Association, the Civil Service Association, NUGS etc during the previous government regime have decided to be very quiet on this one. It is thus a big astonishment why all of a sudden these prominent groups have decided to be mute on this most heinous crime in our country’s history.

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In this present era, it is like if one says anything contrary to what the government wants, you are branded with names and insulted and sometimes considered a member of the opposition NDC. Is this therefore the reason behind the silence of these prominent groups?

Furthermore, the truth, as I’ve realized, seems to be hated by the present government and their fanatics. Once you tell them the truth, you’ll receive all sorts of insults from all angles. Is the culture of impunity not so much within the government and their supporters?

It is therefore not surprising as Professor Karikari has started receiving his share of the insults and condemnation for saying the truth that there is too much impunity in Kufour’s government. If what he said wasn’t true, apart from the deliberate move not to arrest the perpetrators of that heinous crime, what about the ones below:

1. Before 2004 election, Bashiru Red, a known NPP fanatic went on a shooting spree, he was arrested by the police and just immediately afterwards, the then deputy Northern Regional Minister, Charles Bintim went and released him.

2. Baba Nkabo, another NPP man shot and killed a 14yr old boy in the full glaring of the public. He was arrested by the public and sent to the police station and was later released without any charge. He’s now roaming in Accra freely.

3. The one I don’t want to always remember; Issah Mobila’s case. This was a man who got the information whilst in town that his house was searched for arms but nothing was found and that his BMW car was towed to the police station. He quickly rushed to the police station and was detained but later sent to the Kamina Military Barracks in the evening without saying anything to him. He was subsequently tortured to death and dumped in the verandah of the Tamale Hospital Mortuary. Nothing has been done since for nearly four years now.

Professor Karikari’s statements are therefore in the right direction as such he demands commendation rather than condemnation as some few people are doing. We expect well meaning people and groups to speak out the truth for absolute peace to prevail since there can never be peace without justice.

The remote causes of the recent disturbance in Gushegu and Tamale can be traced to these unresolved cases. The people are just using NDC-NPP as undercover to cause mayhem. It is therefore very important that government tries its best to do something these at least these last days to save some image.

Yours faithfully Signed Dagbang, Doo dagbangdoo@gmail.com

Columnist: Dagbang, Doo