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ON THE ONGOING TRIAL OF TEN MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY
Ten members of the Abudu Gate in the Dagbon chieftaincy divide are currently standing trial for the alleged murder of the late Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II. Much as the Abudu Royal Family respect the justice system of this country, we are deeply troubled by the partisan approach adopted by the Attorney General (AG) in the pursuit of justice for victims of the unfortunate events of March 25th to 27th , 2002. We intend to advance reasons why the ongoing trial could, at best, be described as a political persecution of perceived opponents of the ruling NDC government. We will also catalogue reasons why the Abudu Royal Family is of the fervent conviction that the late Ya-Na was NOT murdered by any of the ten suspects in custody, but a casualty of war.
PARTISAN SELECTIVE JUSTICE
Following the unfortunate events of March 2002, the then ruling NPP government appointed the Wuaku Commission of inquiry to investigate the events, identify perpetrators, and make recommendations to government. After several months of hearings involving witness testimonies from members of both the Abudu and Andani families, as well as intelligent information received from police investigators, the Commission presented its findings to the government. It is instructive to note that the arrest and continuous incarceration of the ten suspects is based solely on the findings of the Wuaku Commission’s report. Pages 83-86 of the Wuaku report contain the names of people recommended by the Commission to be charged with various offences under the criminal code of Ghana. What makes the on-going trial selective and partisan is the fact that all ten suspects standing trial for the events of March 2002 are members of the Abudu Gate and known sympathizers of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). None of the people mentioned in the Wuaku report as alleged criminals from the Andani Gate who are supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is on trial. Page 85 of the Wuaku report has the names of people to be charged for the crime of UNLAWFUL MILITARY TRAINING. Included in this list are the names of Maama Mole and Bashiru Gyima, both members of the Andani Gate and supporters of the NDC. The two are currently enjoying their freedom, while Yidana Sugri, a member of the Abudu Gate and supporter of the NPP, is currently languishing in BNI cells for the same offence. Mr. Sugri has been conveniently charged under this offence because the AG could not charge him for the murder of the Ya-Na since he was acquitted by a competent court for the same crime (Double- Jeopardy). It is a travesty of justice that the AG would selectively persecute Yidana Sugri for the offence, but failed to prosecute the two Andanis and NDC sympathizers as recommended by the Wuaku Commission. What is of grave danger to our justice system is the attempt by the AG to rely on these alleged criminals from the Andani Gate mentioned in the Wuaku report to persecute innocent citizens of this country. We are reliably informed by one of the ten suspects in custody, Abukari Mahamadu, that it was Bashiru Gyima who led two policemen to affect his arrest at Salaga where he was on duty as a security guard for Tigo. Almost one month after his arrest as the tenth suspect, the state has not charged him with any crime.
The Wuaku report also recommended one Mohammed Achiana Abdul Salam @ Red to be charged under the offence of ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF WEAPONS. He is a member of the Andani Gate and a supporter of the NDC. Ironically, the said Mohammed Achiana Abdul Salam @ Red was among the people transported by government from Tamale and Yendi to be interviewed and prepared as prosecution witnesses. While he was enjoying the comfort of a plush hotel located at East Legon (as reported by the Daily Guide, Monday April 19, 2010), innocent members of the Abudu Gate and supporters of the NPP were dealing with the harsh conditions of our country’s holding cells. The very fact that the AG will go to the extent of using persons alleged by the state to be criminals in her political persecution of innocent citizens is not only shameful, but an affront to the Ghanaian sense of fairness and the rule of law.
We have credible information that the April 10, 2010 security operation was to include the arrest of one Lawyer Ibrahim Mahama and the Gukpegu Gban-Lana (Tamale Regent) for their alleged involvement in recruiting warriors from Western Dagbon to go and fight for the Ya-Na in Yendi. However, a top level NDC meeting to sanction the operation dropped the two names from the list for political expedience. Both Lawyer Mahama and the regent are Andanis and supporters of the NDC (the learned lawyer is one of the CPP members who now support the NDC in the North because of the conflict).
On the day of the operation, it is reported that National Security operatives were being led by NDC activists in Yendi, including one Wahabu Ziblim (the NDC constituency secretary) to houses where the 41 suspects were arrested. All 41 suspects were from the Abudu Gate and members of the NPP. The security operatives by-passed the house of Maama Mole, a prominent Andani and NDC member recommended by the Wuaku Commission to be arrested and charged under certain offences, and proceeded to arrest his neighbours who are Abudus and NPP supporters.
CASUALTIES OF WAR
The events of March 2002 claimed the lives of many people, including that of the Ya-Na. These people were casualties of the three day war. According to the Wuaku report, “the events that took place in Yendi on 25th, 26th, and 27th March, 2002 were Criminal Acts of an act of war fought between two Gates for which individuals from both Gates are blamable” (Wuaku, p.77). As reprehensible and distasteful as the gruesome death of the late Ya-Na was, the fact still remains that the late king fell victim to a war that he was no innocent by-stander. The Wuaku Commission had preponderance of evidence which led it to the conclusion that what happened in Yendi was a war. However, the Commission’s report failed to highlight some key facts and evidence which seriously implicated the late Ya-Na in the unfortunate events that culminated to his death. The following are some facts about the three day war that the good people of Ghana have so far not been told:
. The late Ya-Na was captured on tape making terroristic threat that blood would flow from Yendi if the Abudus attempt to celebrate the Bugum festival in 2002.
. When the DISEC imposed a curfew to stave off the looming crisis, the late Ya-Na vehemently protested and succeeded in forcing the Regional Minister to lift the curfew on March 24th, thus paving way for him to execute his war plan.
. According to the Wuaku report, Lawyer Ibrahim Mahama “recruited and sponsored warriors for the Ya-Na”. (Wuaku, p.80) These warriors were already in Yendi before March 25th , 2002. They were trained in weapons handling by Bashiru Gyima (an Ex-serviceman) to “…fight against the Abudus during the Bugum festival”. (Wuaku, p.79)
. A small hut in the inner part of the Gbewaa Palace, according to the Wuaku report, “contained a lot of burnt cartridges, suggesting that the place was used as an armoury”. (Wuaku, p. 69) One Yakubu Mohammed @ Anafu, who was among the trained warriors in the Gbewaa Palace, was the one in charge of cleaning and lubricating the weapons in readiness for the war.
. On the morning of March 25th, it was the trained warriors of the Ya-Na who fired the first shot. According to the Wuaku report, “… some Andani youths … fired shots in the direction of the Abudus. Indeed the first casualty in the exchanges, was an Abudu—Abdulai Issahaku @ Who Born You”. (Wuaku, p.80)
. In preparation for the war, the late Ya-Na evacuated his household and made room for the trained warriors to occupy the Gbewaa Palace. It is well known that the late Ya-Na had over one-hundred (100) children and over fifty (50) wives in the Gbewaa Palace. Not a single person from the late Ya-Na’s nucleus family was among the casualties of the war. The domestic animals in the Palace, including horses and cattle, were all evacuated ahead of the onslaught on the Abudus. It is also a fact that these animals were not among the casualties of the war. . Out of the twenty-nine (29) people who were killed in the war, only six bodies (including the Ya-Na) were buried in Yendi. The other twenty-three (23) were buried at Sambu, a village near Yendi. These 23 were not buried in Yendi because they were not natives of Yendi. There were two unidentified bodies among the dead who were definitely not dagombas. The 23 were actually some of the warriors recruited by Lawyer Ibrahim Mahama and the Tamale Regent (Gukpegu-Gban-Lana) from Tamale and its surrounding villages to go and fight the Abudus in Yendi.
. A sixty (60) year old mother, Fati Alhassan, testified at the Wuaku Commission that “Ibrahim Mahama sent her a gift of cloth and maize…as compensation for her son’s death”. (Wuaku, p.54) She is the mother of a notorious mercenary called Ibrahim Diba , who was one of the warriors recruited by Ibrahim Mahama to fight for the late Ya-Na.
. Describing the events of Wednesday, 27th March, 2002, the Wuaku Commission observed that it was “… a full-scale war between the two factions, that eventually led to an attack on the Gbewaa Palace by Abudu youths…who had repelled an earlier onslaught by the Andani’s”. (Wuaku, p.68)
. One Ibrahim Adam, a warrior recruited by the late Ya-Na, told the Wuaku Commission that the Andanis were the ones who started burning houses belonging to the Abudus on March 26th, 2002. According to him, the Abudus attacked fiercely when their houses were being burnt. (Wuaku, pp.47-48)
It is crystal clear that what is going on today is the implementation of NDC Manifesto masquerading as a criminal trial. The Abudu Royal Family would continue to co-operate with any serious and credible investigation into the events of March 25 to 27, 2002. We hope and pray that the good people of Ghana, particularly all peace-loving dagombas, would appreciate the circumstances and events that led to the deaths of the 29 persons in the three day war. What happened in Yendi during the three day war was a tragedy of enormous proportion. We join all Ghanaians in praying that the Dagbon Kingdom, and the entire nation, is forever save from such a calamity. In our attempt to set the records straight, if we offend the sensitivity of any person, we regret that. We have the awesome obligation of telling the true story of the events of March 2002 to the good people of Ghana and the whole world.
We are convinced that the truth would come out in the pending trial of the 10 suspects, as it did in the trial of Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Gyahinfo, as well as the case involving Dr. Wayo Seini, Dr. Adam Nasser and Dr. Yahuza Gomda. Sugri and Gyahinfo were acquitted by a competent court for the murder of the Ya-Na. In a defamation suit brought against Dr. Seini, Dr. Nasser, and Dr. Gomda by some leading members of the Abudu gate, the three were found liable and ordered to pay damages of a total sum of 1.5 billion Cedis to the plaintiffs. Just as in these past two cases, the truth told in court by our lawyers would overcome the figment of imagination and concocted stories of the prosecution and its witnesses. In the end, we are confident that the ten suspects would be acquitted and set free by a competent Court of law.
Thank you and May God continue to bless our Great country.
Dr. Ziblim Iddi (Spokesperson of the Abudu Royal Family)
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