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06.08.2002 General News

Everybody watched Ya-Na's body burn - Witness

By GNA
Everybody watched Ya-Na's body burn - Witness
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A witness told the Wuaku Commission at its last sitting last week that even though many people were gathered at the spots where the Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II and others were being burnt, none of the them made any attempt to put off the fire.

Seidu Salma Amin, alias Amin, Assemblyman for Balagu South Electoral Area in Yendi, said although he felt obliged to put the fire off he did not do so upon a second thought since it would have been a dangerous adventure.

Amin, who got stuck in his evidence and asked to be given a minute's break before continuing, said he saw three bodies being burnt at different spots on March 27 when he went to the precincts of the Gbewaa Palace to see what was happening after the shooting had ceased.

He said he was at a workshop at the Yendi Community Centre organised by the Ghana Education Service to sensitise the people about the importance of the girl's education on March 25 when they heard an unusual noise that disrupted the proceedings.

Amin, who is the 70th witness, said when the participants got out of the centre he saw a mob chasing a young man from the Nayirifon Palace areas towards the Yendi Police Station amid the sound of gunshots.

Although the workshop continued the following day, it had to be abandoned because the facilitators became frightened about the sporadic shooting, he said.

Amin stated that since he was afraid he stayed at the community centre till 1500 hours during which he saw some people running to seek shelter at the Police station.

"To my surprise, those who ran to the Police station were driven away by the Police and this heightened my fear and made me feel unsafe", Amin said.

Witness said on his way home, he met Mahamadu Abdulai, alias Samasama, Presiding Member of the Yendi District Assembly and his brother Suilemana Tuuse, who were both riding bicycles and they said, "what we intend to do is what is going to happen".

Amin added that that evening while at home he heard that two people had been killed and their bodies were lying near the Presiding Member's house and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust areas.

He testified that because of the intensified gunshots on Wednesday morning he had to find a safe place for the male members of his family.

Amin said when he was returning he saw many people running helter-skelter and the Gbewaa Palace on fire amidst drumming even though the gunshots had ceased. "I decided to go to the precincts of the Palace to see things for myself since there were no more gunshots to fear", Witness said.

He said when he got near the Palace, he saw a group of people observing a body, which was being burnt and "as I looked at it I was not happy". It was at this juncture that Witness got stuck in his evidence and requested the Commission to give him a minute break before continuing.

Amin said that when he went to the burnt Palace he saw about five persons whom he identified as elders of the Ya-Na, lying dead in pools of blood. He said there was clear evidence that one of the bodies, which was being burnt, was dragged from the palace to the spot where the burning was taking place.

Amin mentioned the names of some of the dead elders he saw as Mba Dogu, Mba Malo and Mbagu Lana. "While there I also saw some Abudus, one of whom I Identified as Iddrisu Alidu, dismantling a tractor belonging to the Ya-Na," Witness said.

He said others too were looting cooking utensils, aluminium roofing sheets and other items from the burnt Palace.

During cross examination, Witness answered most questions put to him by Counsel for the Abudus, Nana Obiri Boahen in the negative and the Commission had to call him to order at certain stages when he wanted to give unnecessary details.

Nana Obiri Boahen: "On March 25, you were sent by the Ya-Na to the Kunkon-Na to convey guns in his (Ya Na) tractor to enable the Andanis to attack the Abudus."

Amin: "It is not true, the Kunkon-Na is here, you may find out from him. Nana Obiri Boahen: "You were also instructed to bring a number of talisman to protect the Andani fighters during the intended attack." Amin: "That is also never true, as an assemblyman I do not foment trouble."

Amin mentioned the names of some of the dead elders he saw as Mba Dogu, Mba Malo and Mbagu Lana. "While there I also saw some Abudus, one of whom I Identified as Iddrisu Alidu, dismantling a tractor belonging to the Ya-Na," Witness said.

He said others too were looting cooking utensils, aluminium roofing sheets and other items from the burnt Palace.

During cross examination, Witness answered most questions put to him by Counsel for the Abudus, Nana Obiri Boahen in the negative and the Commission had to call him to order at certain stages when he wanted to give unnecessary details.

Nana Obiri Boahen: "On March 25, you were sent by the Ya-Na to the Kunkon-Na to convey guns in his (Ya Na) tractor to enable the Andanis to attack the Abudus."

Amin: "It is not true, the Kunkon-Na is here, you may find out from him. Nana Obiri Boahen: "You were also instructed to bring a number of talisman to protect the Andani fighters during the intended attack." Amin: "That is also never true, as an assemblyman I do not foment trouble."

When Nana Obiri Boahen put to witness that he was among the heavily armed Andani fighters, who seized the Gbewaa Palace area stretching to the Yendi Secondary School on March 26, Amin replied that it was not correct, as he did not fight.

Nana Obiri Boahen: "I put it to you that you played a vital role in the crisis and it was when the Abudus repelled your (Andanis) attack that you fled to Gushegu." Amin: "This is never, never, never true (Shakes his head). To a question from Professor Kwesi Yankah, a member of the Commission, witness said he did not see any member of his relatives dead when he went to the Gbewaa Palace on March 27 after the hostilities had ceased.

Prof Yankah: "Wasn't it dangerous to go to the palace in the midst of such confusion?"

Amin: "I took advantage of the presence of many children and women at that time to go to the burnt Palace."

At this juncture the Witness after answering a number of questions from the Commission was conditionally discharged and informed that he would be re-called to give further evidence next week.

Hammed Abubakari Yusif, alias Kuums, Yendi District Co-ordinator of National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), told the Commission that while in his office around 1000 hours on Monday, March 25, he heard the sound of gunshots at the vicinity of the Gbewaa Palace.

Yusif, who gave evidence as the 69th witness of the Commission, said he went to inform Mr. Mohammed Habibu Tijani, Yendi District Chief Executive (DCE) as the Chairman of the District Disaster Management Committee, about this.

He said the DCE called a meeting of the District Security Committee, which requested for security reinforcement from the Regional Security Committee (REGSEC) to avert any clash between the Andani and Abudu Gates.

Witness said they waited up till 1700 hours but the reinforcement did not arrive.

Yusif continued that he did not go to his office that Tuesday morning but rather went to the DCE's office since his office was about 300 metres away from the Gbewaa Palace and would have been unsafe for him to be there.

"The DCE is also the one I am supposed to work with so it was better under the circumstances to go to him," he added.

Yusif explained in reply to a question by counsel for the Commission that the DCE was presiding over a District Security Committee (DISEC) meeting while firing was going on around the Palace.

He said the DCE tried in vain to reach the Regional Co-ordinating Council on phone so he left for Tamale, taking along himself and one Mustafa, an accounts officer at the Yendi District Assembly.

When asked about the rationale for their inclusion on the DCE's trip, Yusif explained that the DCE wanted them to serve as witnesses to his efforts to secure security assistance to save the precarious situation at Yendi.

"The two of us were selected as members of the Gates as I am a sympathiser of the Abudus, while Mustafa is a supporter of the Andanis", Yusif said.

Witness told the Commission that in Tamale they (he and Mustafa) did not take part in a meeting between the DCE and Mr. Prince Imoru Andani, former Northern Regional Minister.

He said in the course of the meeting he saw the DCE kneel down before Mr. Andani, pleading but the Ex-Minister asked the DCE to get up. When the Commission's Counsel asked about the cause of the pleading, Witness replied that they did not know and the DCE also did not tell them.

Witness said the ex-Regional Minister left for Accra and the DCE also joined other members of the REGSEC at a meeting where he was given an assurance of the reinforcement.

"We returned to Yendi at about 1815 hours that day and drove to the Yendi Divisional Police Headquarters, where other members of the DISEC had met for the DCE to brief them about their mission to Tamale", he said.

Yusif said in answer to a question that after his futile attempt to locate the DCE on Wednesday, March 27, he remained indoors till the morning of Thursday, March 28.

When Mr. Yahaya Seini, Counsel for the Andani Gate, suggested to the witness that as the District NADMO Co-ordinator it was one of his duties to ensure the prevention of disaster, witness answered in the affirmative.

Mr. Seini then suggested to Witness that he failed in his duty to prevent the tragedy.

Mr. Justice Wuaku, Chairman of the Commission, intervened with a question to Mr. Seini if NADMO was responsible for averting natural disasters or civil commotion. Mr. Seini replied that it was disaster in general.

When Seini further asked about witness's role in his attempt to prevent the disaster as NADMO Co-ordinator, the Commission Chairman said: "We are not here for his failure as NADMO Co-ordinator to prevent the disaster."

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