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General News of Wednesday, 12 June 2002

Source: Graphic

Abudu?s jubilated after Ya-Na?s death - Witness

THREE members of the Andani Gate yesterday told the Wuaku Commission inquiring into the Yendi clash that they saw some members of the Abudu family jubilating near the Gbewaa Palace just after the Ya-Naa Yakubu Andani II had been murdered. They said while the men were drumming and singing the women whistling and dancing to the music, someone whose name they gave as Yidana from the Abudu family hanged the arm of the late Ya-Naa on his neck with the aid of a rope, daring anyone who was brave enough to come forward for it.

The three witnesses, who spoke Dagbani, which was translated into English, were Iddrisu Mutawakil, a 20-year-old student of Vitting Secondary Technical School at Tamale, Imrana Sayibu, a 24-year-old student of the Tamale Polytechnic, and Bukari Amadu, a 27-year-old student of the Bagabaga Training College, Tamale. According to them, they had taken refuge behind an abandoned prisons quarters at Yendi when they saw members of the Abudu family jubiliating.

The Andanis, who attended the sitting in their numbers, were represented by three lawyers, Mr Charles Hayibor, leading counsel, Mr William Brentuo, (both Accra-based legal practitioners) and Mr Yahaya Seini of Tamale.

Unlike the previous sittings, yesterday?s was well attended by a cross-section of the people.

Midway into the sitting, the Commanding Officer of the Northern Command of the Ghana Armed Forces, Brigadier Ayiku, and members of the Brong Ahafo Regional Security Council entered the GNAT Hall to listen to the proceedings. Asked by the chairman of the commission, Mr Justice I. N. K. Wuaku, how they came to know that the hand hanging on Yidana?s neck was that of the Ya-Naa, the witness said they identified it by the golden chain of the wrist watch and the dress the king wore that day.

Asked about the make of the watch, Bukari Amadu, who claimed to be a servant of the late Ya-Naa, said it was Seiko.

Led in evidence by Mr G. K. Owoo, counsel for the commission, Imrana Sayibu stated that he saw the presiding member of the Yendi District Assembly, Mr Mahamadu Andani and his brother dragging the body of the late Ya-Na, while one photographer, known only as Kuums was carrying car tyres.

He added that another person he identified only as Mustapha was seen pouring some liquid, suspected to be petrol on the corpse and soon it was in flames. Sayibu stated that just then, a military armoured car arrived on the scene and the men in the vehicle, believed to be soldiers, asked the jubilant people whether they had not finished with their mission.

He said the people replied in the affirmative and the alledged soldiers told those holding the arms to withdraw, assuring them that ?we are expecting some soldiers from Tamale and when they come, we shall shoot them.?

Throwing more light on the incident, Sayibu said while in Tamale on March 25, he had a call from a friend called Andani at Yendi who told that tension was mounting at Yendi and that he should come down to collect his satellite dish and send it to Tamale.

He said he arrived at Yendi that evening and slept at the Police station, since some policemen he met in the town had told him that there was a curfew in town. Sayibu said early in the morning of March 26, he went to the Ya-Naa?s palace from where he telephoned his friend, Andani to find ways of sending the satellite dish to Tamale.

He said at the palace, he heard gunshots until the evening and that night, they heard the sound of a plane coming towards Gushegu. The witness said the plane landed at an aerodrome and they thought it had come to the aid of the Ya-Na.

Sayibu said the following morning, the firing resume and they saw some houses in flames while sitting in the hall of the Ya-Naa?s palace.

He said sensing danger, the Ya-Naa sent a distress message through the Wuntengele Na to the commander of the military detachment at Yendi to come to his rescue, but the messenger never returned.

Sayibu said as the palace continued to burn, the Ya-Naa advised the occupants in the room to go out to avoid being burnt.

He stated that when some elders came out of the palace, they were shot. Sayibu said the Ya-Naa then went out while the other occupants in the palace including him climbed walls to hide during which they saw the Ya-Naa lying prostrate.

Asked by the counsel for the commission whether the Ya-Na was dead or alive, Sayibu said he could not tell but stated that there were blood stains in his dress.

He said as they decided to run away, they saw Baba Kruga, Baba Zoe, Gon Lana and Abdulai Cheker with guns and one of them shot at his thighs and he fell. Sayibu said he and five others, hid behind some firewood near the warders? quarters until the firing ceased.

He said while there they heard the voice of Yidana that ?we have killed the chief,? adding that they also saw some people wearing T-shirts over pairs of shorts holding guns who entered a quarters to take iced water?.

Sayibu said it was then that they saw the Presiding Member of the Yendi District Assembly and his brother dragging the body of the late Ya-Naa.

Asked by a panel member to tell the commission the kind of plane he saw, Sayibu said it was in the night and as there were no lights in the town, he could not find out the type of plane, but it sounded like a helicopter.

To another question as to the kind of guns the men in the common uniform were holding, he said they were rifles similar to those used by the police. Asked by a commission member whether the Andanis retaliated when the Abudus opened fire on them, Sayibu answered in the affirmative. The other two witnesses, Iddrisu Mutawakil and Abukari Amadu corroborated the evidence of Sayibu that the Ya-Na sent two distressed messages to the military but there was no response.

Amadu said on March 23, the District Chief Executive, Mr Mohammed Habib Tijani sent a letter through his District Co-ordinating Director to the Ya-Na requesting him to send two representatives to the police station to discuss the security situation at Yendi.

He said when they attended the meeting, the DCE told them that he was going to impose a curfew and they told the DCE that they could not send such a message to the Ya-Na.

Amadu said the Ya-Na sent for the DCE on two occasions the following day but he failed to turn up, compelling the Ya-Naa to invite the Regional Minister, Prince Imoro Andani to his palace on phone.

He said the regional minister responded immediately and during discussions, he expressed strong reservations about the imposition of the curfew and the failure of the DCE to respond to his calls.

Amadu said after a long discussion between the Ya-Naa and the Regional Minister, the King asked him whether as a Dagbon he had ever heard of a ban on the fire festival or not.

He said the regional minister consulted the Bolon Lana after which he lifted the curfew.

Asked by a commission member if outsiders came to fight for the Ya-Naa, Amadu said only Yendi citizens resident in Tamale came to help.

Amadu told the commission that when he went to Tamale after the hostilities, he later saw Yidana at the Tamale market and reported him to the military personnel.

They traced him to the Yendi barrier and arrested him together with someone known to him only as Baba and since then he had not heard of them again. Mutawakil on his part, said even though the armoured car of the military detachment at Yendi passed by the Ya-Naa?s palace on March 26 and 27, it failed to stop at the palace.

Asked by a commission member why he armed himself with only a cutlass to defend himself while the Abudus were armed with guns, he said there was another person with a locally manufactured gun guarding him at the palace.

Sitting continues tomorrow.