Justice for the Ya-Na is good but...

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Monday, December 30, 2013

Former President Rawlings is still stridently insisting that Justice be done for the Ya-Na (Yakubu Andani II) and 40 or so of his loyalists murdered in March 2002 during the Kufuor era.

According to him, "this is the time for the people of Bawku to demand justice on the death of the Ya Na, as the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will not be in power forever".

Addressing the people of Bawku at the 26th Anniversary of the annual Samanpiid festival celebrated by Kusasis in the Kusaug traditional area of the Upper East Region, ex-President Rawlings questioned why the people of Bawku have gone quiet on the issue of the Ya Na.

According to him, it is wrong for the people of the Northern region to keep mute over the death of the late Ya Na Yakubu Andani II after President Mahama assumed office because “having a Northerner as President is the more reason why you should be insisting that we see justice.”

He mentioned that “if we don’t get to the bottom of this issue … and also with the way we are performing, if we are not careful and we don’t ensure that a proper enquiry takes place to identify who did what? Ladies and gentlemen we will end up watching them and then they will show up again.” (Source: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=296555)

I don't like this open recourse to ethnicity in Rawlings' utterance. President Mahama is a Northerner but can't use his ethnic extraction to do what Rawlings is asking for. Ex-President Mills tried but failed because the forces arrayed against him were formidable. Those forces are still around, which is why President Mahama's government can't get to the bottom of the matter.

And why the people of Bawku and not Yendi/Tamale whose overlord the Ya-Na was?

The circumstances surrounding the murder of the Ya-Na have been shrouded in some terrible conspiratorial secrecy and the event itself so heavily politicized as to defy unravelling and solution.

Rawlings himself had once claimed to have incontrovertible evidence on the perpetrators but hasn't disclosed anything to help solve the problem. Those arrested couldn't be successfully prosecuted "for lack of evidence". So, they were released. Does he not know that without such incontrovertible evidence no one can be arrested and successfully prosecuted?

The bad-blood relationship between the Andanis and the Abudus has been tainted all the more by partisan politics. Rawlings is aware of this problem; so, merely urging that justice be done for the Ya-Na under an NDC government isn't any laudable suggestion, especially at this time when the dust on the matter seems to be settling down and the Andanis and Yakubus are minding their own business.

The pain may be difficult to outgrow but no amount of wailing or gnashing of teeth will solve the problem. Rabble-rousing will only re-ignite the feud that no sane mind will appreciate.

Folks, there are good reasons to attempt putting the past behind, letting bygones be bygones in the interest of whatever has sustained life in the country so far. No rabble-rousing under the guise of sympathy.

Some may blame the Ghana Police Service for not doing its work professionally or with the seriousness that this Yendi Massacre deserves. I disagree with them. Indeed, the Ghana Police Service is well recognized when it comes to investigating serious crimes and exposing the perpetrators. Its personnel are known to have duly investigated and cracked serious crimes over the years.

I can vouch for them that they know how to do their job, especially in investigating murder cases, however intricate they might be. The only problem with this Ya-Na case is the heavy politicization that has beclouded everything surrounding it and derailed any effort to delve into it, let alone trace the perpetrators.

Every reasonable being who is informed about the circumstances leading to the massacre and the aftermath will conclude that some "faceless" and "invisible" hands were behind it all. There was too much glaring evidence even before the crime was committed:

1. The military detachment and the inability to prevent the crime (apparently, the fact that the armoured car didn't even have any battery in it, as we were told);

2. The cutting off of telephone service in the area (we were told in the news what happened);

3. The fact that the former Vice President (Aliu Mahama) was informed of the tension in the area and his assurances that the government won't sit down for anything to be done to the Ya-Na, yet nothing being done to protect him);

3. The role of Major Sulemana and national security apparatus in the entire affair even though the BNI District Officer and Regional Secretariat had conveyed the true picture of events to them before the massacre;

4. The fact that Ellis Owusu Fordjuor (then Director of the BNI) resigned in protest at the shoddy handling of the issue (after his office had informed the government of the reality on the ground);

5. The sloppy manner in which the Kufuor government dealt with the matter, especially after some suspects had been arrested only to be ordered released by Akufo-Addo;

6. The fact that Jahinfo and the other suspects were parading body parts of the Ya-Na (we heard in the news that one of them even carried his head around and was kicking it like a football) was enough evidence with which to pursue the matter; but the Kufuor government didn't;

7. The setting up of the Wuaku Commission as a mere smokescreen;

8. The setting up of the Asantehene-led Committee of Eminent Chiefs on the Dagbon crisis as another face-saving measure by the Kufuor government;

9. The half-hearted manner in which the prosecution of Jahinfo and the other suspects was done, leading to their acquittal, and the inability of the NDC government (of both Mills and Mahama) to take up the matter again even though it formed part of the 2008 electioneering campaign manifesto) can't solve the problem;

10. The noise being made by Rawlings is more irritating than helping solve the problem because he isn't giving anybody any concrete evidence although he had boasted of same several times in the past.

And there are many more attenuating factors under those circumstances.

You see, my good friends, the Yendi Massacre has a lot that crime investigators in Ghana and other parts of the word can easily tackle if "politics" is removed from it. But in Ghana where politics is what everybody eats, drinks, sleeps and dreams of, who in Ghana can approach this case dispassionately to help us have a closure? None, I daresay.

That is why I am tempted to suggest that bygones be made bygones and nobody allowed to rake the past just for political purposes.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.