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06.08.2005 General News

Who Murdered The Ya-Na - MP Asks


A Statement by the NPP MP for Amansie West, Hon. Kofi Krah Mensah, on June 30, 2005 in commemoration of the murder of the three (3) High Court Judges and a retired Army Officer on the sameday in 1982, turned into full-blown debate on the murder of the Ya-Na and 40 of his followers in March 2002, when Hon. Alhaji Sumani Abukari, NDC MP for Tamale North, in supporting the statement and after an intervention by Interior Minister Papa Owusu-Ankomah, asked the un-askable question in Ghana today:

"Have we found the murderers of the Ya-Na and the forty others?

Have we found the murderers?

Who were the real murderers of the Ya-Na and the forty others"

Contd from last Tuesday's issue

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important Statement because of the essence, for me, which is to remind us so that we do not go back to repeat those wrongs of the past. Therefore, we set up the National Reconciliation Commission and all those efforts were put in – the tax payers' money – yet we continue to see wrongs taking place in our dear country – The case of Mobila, the case of the bodyguard – Mr. Speaker, if you see the picture of how the bodyguard of the late Capt. Sankara was killed – I have had the opportunity of looking at that picture- Mr. Speaker, you will weep – [Interruptions] Yes. The one who was murdered in Sunyani. Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of looking at that picture. I had the privilege of looking at the picture of the l! ate Mobila. So Mr. Speaker, I think that Statements such as the one made today should be supported by both sides of the House so that whether we are on this side of the House or that side of the House we can say that, “Never again shall it happen”——

Alhaji Malik Alhassan Yakubu (NPP – Yendi): ——Mr. Speaker, we should know the actual facts and all these are to prevent similar recurrences. Mr. Speaker, people have often said that the death of the Ya-Na and forty of his elders – even there the facts are wrong.

Records that were got from the Yendi Hospital have it that thirty-two people died. Mr. Speaker, not more than five of those who were dead were elders of the Ya-Na. Mr. Speaker, a lot of those who died were not from Yendi; they were not elders of the Ya-Na. For that reason they were buried seven miles from Yendi in a village called Sangu but under Dagbon custom nobody will allow a deceased relative to be sent to a foreign place to be buried.

So people are saying this because they do not know the real facts and if the real facts are known, people would stop making statements that are not correct. Mr. Speaker, the Dagbon incident, as I said, needs real serious discussions. The people who came to fight and were not from the place, and then they were buried somewhere else, we need to know- [Interruption]

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu: On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I am on a point of order because the hon. Member for Yendi is grossly misleading this House with the statistics that he has given. Indeed, when the Ya-Na was murdered the Daily Graphic, the government public newspaper together with all other statements including the first statement which was issued by the hon. Minister for Tourism now who is privileged to be in this House, directly facing me, admitted that the Ya-Na had died with 40 others, At no point in time had anyone said that all 40 were his elders but indeed it included his elders.

The hon. Member is from Yendi and he knows the composition of the eldership of the Ya-Na. Many of them, with the exception of the Kuga-Na, are gone and therefore it is inappropriate for him to say that the elders were not dead. Apart from the Kuga-Na, I want to know any of his elders who are alive. Mr. Speaker, indeed, it would be useful if he can give this facts to those who want them——

Alhaji M. A. Yakubu: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Tamale South made a very pertinent point and I liked it very much. He said that the finding of the Wuaku Commission that the incident in Yendi was an act of war- He said that “But in this age who says war is authorized” I think that was a very pertinent issue.

In 1994 there was this ethnic war in the Northern Region and thousands of lives were lost. All such things, we should seek to take measures that would prevent them. Mr. Speaker, when I raised this Dagbon thing I did so to make an appeal that we would do better for Ghana and Dagbon if we make efforts to resolve conflicts that lead us into situations like this. Mr. Speaker, I am aware that there are individuals who are spending sleepless nights and resources in order to bring normalcy to Dagbon. In Yendi, because of the positive approaches we are making, there is a substantial peace. Now, if we make statements that only inflame passions we are not helping the cause of peace. [Interruption]——-We should try to put our heads together and look at all shades of the problem. When we look at the whole thing it is not just leaning towards one side. ! A lot of people who do not come up when the veil is lifted and then the training of people to go and fight, all those things which came out in evidence will show the true picture of what happened in Dagbon. Meanwhile, Members of Parliament and those of us from Dagbon, particularly should endeavour to help peace talks in our area rather than just referring to it so as to rebuff certain things. That will not help us. Thank you very mush, Mr. Speaker. [Hear! Hear!]——

Minority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin): —Mr. Speaker, as a nation, I think we paid dearly for that cowardly act. It is only cowards who cannot face people in their face and tell them that “I disagree with you and I propose that you should rather behave in this manner”. But that seems to be what is becoming a culture in this country and that is why the importance of the Remembrance Day, the Martyrs Day, is for us to use as a means of learning how to improve upon a number of issues. But even what is happening on this floor does not show that we have learnt anything at all.

Mr. Speaker, it is true that on this floor we can speak with passion, we can speak with emotion, but it is not acceptable to proceed to speak with anger and also exhibit some of the tendencies that lead to some of these atrocities. I think, as hon. Members of Parliament we should do better and when we do better the rest of the country would copy us.

I am really saddened by what I have witnessed this morning. People never accept any report, people never accept any action and therefore we keep on getting ourselves stuck in the mud. The Special Investigation Board Report on the murder of the judges is seen as not a credible report and therefore they are thinking other people were left off the hook. The National Reconciliation Committee Report is seen in similar vein; therefore there is this dispute about its credibility or acceptability by the country. And then from there we are talking about the Wuaku Commission's Report and it is also being seen in similar light and therefore, Mr. Speaker, we seem to be stuck in the mud. As a country, we are not moving forward at all – [Interruption.]——-I think that we as a people have learned a lot from what has happened in this country. At least, we ! all know that many countries have gone through this kind of traumatic experiences. But it is how they make use of those experiences that show the differences in development. And I think as a country we should learn from our history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Yes, it is true that some people, especially those who think they are now controlling State power, are sometimes carried away by these excesses, but it is not something that we the people should encourage. When it comes to condemnation, let us be united in our condemnation of criminal acts. Let us agree that all these things that have been mentioned are brutal murders and that as a House, as an arm of Government, we should be the people that should be championing and supporting the State apparatus to investigate and come out with the truth, if not anything at all, evidence to enable us take action to rectify the wrong.

But Mr. Speaker, once again, I must say that I was saddened by the debate, especially when people tried to state facts when what they know is that some information has been made available to them and they just want to call them facts. That could not be. Some could be true, some may be exaggerated views of people who may be present or may have also been informed. So it is important that we refer to credible sources and not just try to state these things as facts. Lunatic fringes abound everywhere. It is how, as a society, we try to contain them – And I do not expect that in this House we should encourage some lunatic fringes.

Mr. Speaker, I sometimes feel so bad when I try to put myself in the position of any of the family members. How do they feel? And when we talk this way, how do we remind them of the hurt? Instead of sympathizing with them, instead of trying to, at least, do things that would assuage their suffering, it seems the way we go about these issues is actually adding some more petrol to the fire and making it worse. I do not think that we should go that far——

Majority Leader (Mr. F. K. Owusu-Adjapong): Mr. Speaker, I think we should be bold this time and see whether we cannot go back to the Special Report, because the problem we have with the Special Investigation Report is that there was a slight difference between the recommendation of the Commission and the decision of the then Attorney-General.

That is what starts the problem and I believe that as a House, as we go along with it, we should be able to see whether it is not time for us to set the records straight by going back to the Special Report to see whether the Attorney-General at that time was right or there is something more that is required to be done.

Mr. Speaker, we are told about other murders. I would plead that in future, we do not try only to mention some few names because as the list was being given, I started finding out what happened to the beheading of Ofumanhene. In 1990 to 1991 there was the Nkaase Queen mothers murder, there was the Nkoranza Chief's murder, these are all events there. So I am pleading that when we come to make such statements we do not try and bring in what will make others become extra partisan and “expert dividers” because, as regards murdering they have come here and there – [Interruptions.]

Mr. Bagbin: On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, actually, my standing up seems to have brought my hon. Colleague on the other side in line. This is because I thought his intervention would have been reconciliatory and bringing both sides together. But when he started dwelling on going back to a Special Investigation Board's Report; you know he is also talking about people going to the National Reconciliation Commission Report. And I am saying that we should learn as a country to go by these things. If he wants anything to be reopened, then we can do so because even in the Special Investigation Board's Report, people were – [Interruption]——- Mr. Speaker, this led to the trial, conviction and execution of other people. In the next report, th! ere is no such thing and yet people are saying we should go back to that last report, by not accepting that we should go back to the present report. And others are saying we should go to the present report and do not go back to the last report and I think that is wrong. I think this is the debate, the comments on this House and that is what happened. Mr. Speaker, I think he should not further that line of this thing – he should rather try to reconcile the two positions——

Mr. Owusu –Adjapong: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, this particular was meant only for the three Judges and the retired Major. And I would have wished that we had not extended it to any other event. And I was only trying to allude to the fact that by extending it, you also would want people then to remember other murders. And that was why I started with other chiefs, queen mothers, like the Ofuman case, like the Ankaase case, like the Nkoranza Chief's case, so that we may be able to do just like they did.

The other day when we had the opportunity of listening to the tribute paid to our late brother Mr. Victor Selormey, I advised—and I am happy we all accepted it – that after it, we possibly do not say much. We have reached a stage where we should do things that will always reconcile us and in doing that, if we begin to set more and more examples, then definitely, we are then going to have problems. This is because if we become selective, others would also want to come in——

Mr. Speaker, I thank you.