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27.03.2012 General News

The Murder Of Yaa Naa Was A Monumental Crime Says Andani Youth.

By Alhassan M. Murtala –Tamale
The Murder Of Yaa Naa Was A Monumental Crime Says Andani Youth.
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The Andani Youth Association as on the occasion of the tenth anniversary memorial press Conference described the murder of the late Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani as a monumental crime to be swept under the carpet.

In a press conference organized in memory of the late king of Dagbon, the group descended heavily on the Northern MP'S who used the unfortunate death of the Yaa Naa to campaign to parliament with the promise of using their parliamentary positions to defend and fight for justice for the Andani family.

According to the group, though the ultimate responsibility for the apparent reluctance to fulfill the promise to deliver justice to the Andani family lies with the NDC, it is the MP'S who should shoulder the bulk of the blame.

''If they had taken the Andani cry for justice seriously, if they had asked the relevant questions at the appropriate time, the state prosecutors would dare not have adopted such a half-hearted and lackadaisical approach to the investigations and subsequent prosecution of the case'' Mr. Abubakar Alhassan, the spokes person said.

Below is the full Press Statement by the Andani Youth Association.

PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE ANDANI YOUTH ASSOCIATION ON THE OCCASION OF THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MURDER OF YAA-NAA YAKUBU ANDANI II AND FORTY MEMBERS OF HIS RETINUE: MARCH 27, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media; first of all we would like to thank you for responding to our invitation to attend this press conference.

It has been ten long years since the murder of Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II and scores of members of his retinue. It is possible therefore that this time lapse may have made the facts surrounding these crimes to recede into the passive memory of the public. We of the Andani Youth Association, therefore, deem it necessary to take advantage of the opportunity offered by this tenth anniversary to refresh the memory of the public on the events of March 27, 2002.

The murder of Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II was the climax of a three-day armed assault on the Gbewaa Palace the official residence of the Yaa-Naa and focal point of over six hundred years of Dagbon history, tradition and culture. About forty other innocent people perished with the Yaa-Naa. Not satisfied that they had killed him, the assailants dragged his body to the palace square, chopped off his right arm, decapitated him and set fire to what was left of the body. The palace was reduced to ruins and several other houses were burnt and valuable items including royal regalia were looted.

Evidence abounds to support the claim that the murder of the Yaa-Naa was politically motivated. It was the consequence of a plot to fulfill an electoral promise the NPP had made to some extremist elements of the Abudu gate. That promise bordered on the performance of the outstanding funeral of Mahamadu Abdulai who had been improperly enskinned as Yaa-Naa by the Progress Party government in 1969, and who died out of office in 1986. This confession albeit inadvertent, was made by Ms Elizabeth Ohene, then Minister of State in the Office of the President, on the Front Page programme of Joy FM on Friday 29 March, 2002. In this particular programme she made comments to the effect that the NPP had previously promised to assist the extremist elements in the Abudu family to perform the funeral of the said Mahamadu Abdulai. She went on to say that in order to have performed that funeral, Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II would have had to vacate the Gbewaa Palace. Apparently the attack on the Palace from March 25th to 27th was to forcibly evict Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II since the latter would not have vacated the palace as this was contrary to Dagbon custom and tradition.

In a radio and television broadcast to the nation in the aftermath of that murderous operation, then President Kufuor made a solemn promise to ensure that the perpetrators of what he himself described as a “heinous crime” would be apprehended and brought to justice. Ladies and gentlemen! As you all know, up to the time of leaving office, President Kufuor did not fulfill that promise.

This was in spite of the fact that on taking the presidential oath at his inauguration in January 2001, he swore, among other things, to dedicate himself “to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of Ghana and to do right to all manner of persons.” Yet then President Kufuor did not only fail to invoke the powers invested in him as President to protect life and property, but actually sat by and watched as state security institutions were used by the political leadership of the Abudu gate to perpetrate the largest single massacre of innocent civilians in peace time in Ghana under a democratic regime.

The response of the NPP administration was the unscrupulous whitewashing of this monumental crime through the largely discredited Wuaku Commission and the subsequent phony trial which was deliberately skewed in order to avoid a conviction.

In the same vein we of the Andani Youth Association also feel highly betrayed by the way and manner the NDC exploited the murder of the Yaa-Naa in order to bolster its electoral fortunes by promising in its manifesto to deliver justice to the Andani family when voted into power. Because of this promise, friends and sympathizers of the Andani family, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the people of Dagbon, trooped to the NDC and voted for it en masse and thus contributed significantly to the Party's electoral victory at the 2008 elections.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you may be aware, when the NDC came to power it took a lot of prompting and pressure from a section of the Andani family to remind the Party of its electoral promise to the family and the people of Dagbon. Thereafter when the Office of the Attorney General eventually commenced the process of investigations, it was clear that the state prosecutors were not interested in getting to the bottom of the matter in order to establish the actual levels of culpability of all those who were directly or indirectly involved in this heinous crime. And we would demonstrate with evidence that the state prosecution had no interest in securing any convictions in this matter. Indeed the entire process of prosecution was set up to ensure that it would fail. And it did.

The prosecutions reluctance to gather the full complement of evidence

It is very strange that the evidence and information that the state prosecutors gathered for the case came almost entirely from the surviving members of the late Yaa-Naa's retinue most of who were massacred during the armed attack on the Gbewaa Palace. The case was being heard more than eight years after those traumatic events, and the victims who were fleeing the scene of the armed attack in panic and barely escaping with their lives were being asked by the state prosecutors to recollect and reconstruct the traumatic events in sufficient detail as they witnessed them. Incredibly this was the only information that the state prosecutors relied in their lackadaisical attempt to secure conviction in a murder case. This is unbelievable!

Suppression of vital sources of evidence:
The murder of the Yaa-Naa and dozens of others took place in broad day light, and in the full glare of the public including all the security agencies in Yendi, namely the Police, BNI officials, Prison Warders, Fire Service personnel and CEPS officers. And according to the Tamale Municipal Chief Executive and Acting Chairman of the REGSEC at the time Mr. Iddrisu Adam, on March 26, 2002, not less than 90 policemen and 62 soldiers comprising 60 men and two officers were dispatched to Yendi ostensibly to give protection to the Yaa-Naa and to save life and property. We were then asked to believe that despite this meticulous response, the Yaa-Naa was murdered the following morning Wednesday March 27, 2002.

The question we would like to reiterate on this tenth anniversary of that monumental crime is: Why did the state prosecutors not invite even one police personnel, a soldier, a prisons officer, a CEPS official or the BNI officer who was in charge of the area to give evidence? We ask this question because obviously the security agencies such as the Police, BNI, and the military at the district, regional and national levels would have prepared or received written reports of the events in question. We ask again: why did the state prosecutors not ask for such reports?

A Chief Superintendent of Police, now an Assistant Commissioner of Police was put in charge of the investigation into the murders and arson. It is indeed very strange that the state prosecutors did not deem it necessary to invite him or the several police officers who assisted him to give evidence concerning their investigation and their findings. The question again is - WHY?

It is also on record that it was from the home of one self-styled Bolin Lana, Abdulai Mahamadu, that the murderers launched the assault on the Gbewaa Palace. This particular individual claimed at the Wuaku Commission that it was he who gave orders for the attack on the Gbewaa Palace to commence. For the three days that the attack was in progress, this Abdulai Mahamadu was the hub around which the murders were organized. It was also disclosed at the Wuaku Commission that the murderers mounted the severed head of the Yaa-Naa on a spear, and took it to the house of this Abdulai Mahamadu where he sat in state and received it. In spite of all these facts, the state prosecutors chose not to question this Abdulai Mahamadu who is clearly a suspect. We ask again –WHY?

Ignoring the possible roles of former NPP government officials by the state prosecutors

In all societies governed by law, it is the responsibility of the government to protect all its citizens. Specific officers are assigned this responsibility, and those in charge are held accountable for any dereliction of duty.

It is a matter of public record, both nationally and internationally, that while the unprovoked attack on the Yaa-Naa' palace was going on, and the armed security personnel refused to protect lives and property, Mr. Malik Alhassan Yakubu, who was at the time Minister of Interior and Member of Parliament for Yendi was heard on national and international radio saying that Yendi was calm, and that government was in firm control of the situation. He branded those who presented evidence to the contrary as mischief makers. This was even after a telephone call from the secretary to the Yaa-Naa was broadcast live on an Accra FM station on Monday, 25 March 2002 confirming that the Yaa-Naa was under attack, and listeners could even hear the sound of gunfire in the background. As then Minister of Interior and Member of Parliament for Yendi – the scene of the attack – he had the real facts of the situation. Why therefore was he lying? Yet the state prosecutors did not deem it fit to invite Mr. Malik Alhassan Yakubu for questioning. Once again the question is WHY? Also, why was Ms Elizabeth Ohene who made that confession on radio about the NPP's electoral promise to the Abudus not invited to give evidence?

Severance of telephone links to Yendi
Military experts will confirm that in the process of any military assault, communication systems are among the first targets of attack. This was exactly what happened during the three-day armed assault on the Gbewaa Palace leading to the murder of the Yaa-Naa. The then Ghana Telecom telephone lines to and from Yendi were completely cut effectively isolating the target area from the rest of the country and the world. It is important to note that this development came soon after the secretary to the Yaa-Naa had granted the telephone interview to the Accra FM station alluded to earlier. We would like to remind the audience that as at the year 2002 Yendi did not have mobile telephony. Later investigations revealed that there were no technical faults with the Yendi lines during that period in question. And since the authorities of the then Ghana Telecom could not by themselves have taken such a sensitive decision without reference to ah higher authority, we had expected the state prosecutors to be interested in unraveling this very strange occurrence, and also to find out why telephone communication to Yendi was restored immediately after the Yaa-Naa had been murdered. The question once again is: Why did the state prosecutors ignore this very vital piece of evidence?

What the NPP government knew about the attack and when

At the Wuaku Commission Major (Rtd) Abubakar Sulemana testified that when he learnt about the shootings in Yendi in the morning of 25 March, 2002 he went to inform Lt. General (Rtd) Joshua Hamidu, then National Security Advisor, who confirmed to him that government (and I repeat - government), was aware of what was going on. This was further evidence that the carnage in Yendi was facilitated by the NPP government.

Also according to the evidence given by the then Tamale Municipal Chief Executive at the Wuaku Commission, the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) was not even aware that the Yaa-Naa had been killed as at 4.00 PM on Wednesday 27 March, 2002. But Major (Rtd) Sulemana testified that he saw a security report in the office of the then National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Joshua Hamidu in the morning of Wednesday 27 March, 2002 detailing that the Yaa-Naa had been killed.

If the topmost security body in the Region did not know of the death of the Yaa-Naa even in the afternoon of that fateful Wednesday at a time it was already dead news in the office of the National Security Advisor in Accra, could it have been that the then National Security Advisor was dealing directly with Yendi and was monitoring the progress of the assault from his office? Yet the authorities claimed that they had adhered rigorously to the chain of command involving the district, regional, and national outfits in that order. Once again we pose the question: why did the state prosecutors not invite the then National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Joshua Hamidu for questioning?

The unpardonable silence of the so-called Andani Members of Parliament

In all these developments, much of the buck stops at the doorstep of our elected Members of Parliament. Their silence inside and outside parliament over the question for justice for the Andani family has been most exasperating. Ladies and gentlemen! I would like to emphasize the point that except for one or two Members of Parliament from the Dagbon area, all the others rode on the back of the popular anger arising from the murder Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II to get elected into parliament with the promise that they would use their parliamentary positions to fight for justice for the Andani family. We of the Andani family did not ask them further questions. We simply went out and voted massively for them, even if the loyalty of some of them to the Andani cause was, and still is questionable. We just voted blindly to the extent that our MPs have now taken us so much for granted that one of them had the effrontery to declare on national television that he did not need to come home and campaign in order to retain his seat. He is sure he would always win the election.

We still remember how the NDC leadership in Dagbon used to boast that even if they put up a piece of stalk for election in Dagbon, that piece of stalk would win. It is true that things have changed and they dare not exploit the murder of the Yaa-Naa as they did in the past, but they have a new strategy. They have grown so filthy rich from the wealth they have accumulated from their official positions that they believe they can come and sprinkle money at us like one would throw grains at hungry fowls.

Though the ultimate responsibility for the apparent reluctance to fulfill the promise to deliver justice to the Andani family lies with the NDC, it is our MPs who should shoulder the bulk of the blame. If they had taken the Andani cry for justice seriously, if they had asked the relevant questions at the appropriate time, the state prosecutors would dare not have adopted such a half-hearted and lackadaisical approach to the investigations and subsequent prosecution of the case.

Conclusion
In the light of all these developments we of the Andani Youth Association call on government to live up to its promise to ensure that those who murdered Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II and the other members of his retinue on 27 March, 2002 are apprehended and made to answer for their crimes. We have taken note of the renewed promise in this direction that His Excellency President John Evans Atta Mills made during his last visit to Tamale. We would wish that he would back his words with action. We on our part are always willing to assist in whatever way possible to ensure that justice is achieved for the Andani family. The murder of Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II is too monumental a crime to be swept under the carpet. And on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of that tragedy, we of the Andani Youth Association reiterate our commitments to peace, but we wish to add that enduring peace can only be anchored on justice.

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