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15.07.2004 General News

Extension of State of Emergency in Dagbon Approved

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Accra, July 15, GNA - Parliament on Thursday approved by 102 votes, the extension of the State of Emergency in the Tamale Municipality and the Yendi District for a period of one month.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Minister of The Interior, said the motion for the extension was Government's response to a request by the security agencies on the ground, which advised that until the assassinated Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, Paramount Chief of dagbon was buried, the State of Emergency should be maintained.
He expressed disappointment over the delay in finding a lasting solution to the Dagbon issue, saying that a Special Committee including the Leadership of Parliament, representatives of the United Nations (UN), National Security, Civil Society and the Council of Eminent Chiefs had been constituted to help address the fundamental issues involved, including the criminal aspects.
"We appreciate the calls from members and from various quarters to ensure that justice was done with regards to the assassins of the Ya-Na and his elders; but we cannot perpetrate injustice in the search for justice, when the allegations involved have not been fully proven," the Minister said.
The Minority, numbering 49, however, opposed the motion. Led by Mr Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader and his members expressed disappointment in the manner the Government was handling the issue. Mr Bagbin said: "We on the Minority side strongly oppose the motion for the extension of state of emergency in Tamale Municipality and the Yendi District."
He described the monthly extension as a "monthly ritual" saying it was indicative of the Government's loss of hope and interest in the Dagbon crisis.
Mr Bagbin said it appeared that nothing significant was being done to ensure a lasting solution in the Dagbon crisis and the Government had resorted to the state of emergency instead of dealing with the real issues.
He disagreed with the Minister of the Interior on the assumption that the burial of the late Ya-Na was the key to the solution of the crisis in the area, saying that there were crimes involved in the matter and unless justice was done, the burial of the Ya-Na would not take the problem away.
"I think the Government strategy must be focused on looking for justice instead of security," he said.
"Until we see clear signals of Government finding a lasting solution to the problem, we will not support this monthly ritual anymore."
He said the Minority was of the view that the residents of Tamale and Yendi were being deprived of their fundamental human rights and freedom of movement, adding that it was necessary for the people to be allowed to interact for their wounds to heal with time.
Mr Kosi Kedem, NDC- Hohoe South, said Parliament had failed the people of Dagbon, adding that for the past two years, since the Ya-Na and his elders were murdered, "we have still not gotten anywhere near peace and justice in the area.
"If the people do not feel that justice has been done, there is no way they will let go even after the burial of the late Ya-Na," he said. "The reasons for the extension is not solid enough and I urge the Minister to re-examine his strategies towards justice instead of constantly extending the state of emergency."
Alhaji Mumuni Abudu Seidu, NDC- Wa Central, noted that the Government was increasingly using the state of emergency as an end instead of a means to an end.
He said residents of Dagbon were losing confidence in the security agencies because they expected justice to be done rather than for security to be maintained.
Alhaji Malik Al-Hassan Yakubu, NPP - Yendi, speaking in support of the motion expressed disappointment in the Minority Leader's statement that the Government had lost hope and interest in the Dagbon crisis, saying the extension of the State of Emergency was not a Government strategy but a request by the security agencies working in the area. He also said it was not true that the people were being denied freedom to interact, adding that social functions such as weddings, funerals, out-doorings and other social activities were on-going in the area.

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