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General News of Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Source: The Catalyst

Ya Na Killer Truth, Segbefia Nails It Right

By Desmond Darko (Editor, The Catalyst)

The truth is that Ya Na Yakubu Andani II was killed in cold blood in March 2002. It is true that Ya Na Yakubu Andani II was killed after three days of sustained gun attack on his palace, The Gbewa Palace, in Yendi. It is true that the Ya Na Yakubu Andani II was dismembered and his body parts taken away by the assailants. It is true that according to the Woaku Commission Report, set up by the Kufuor regime to investigate only God knows what, Ya Na Yakubu Andani II was killed together with 40 of his elders.

If people are killed, the constitution enjoins the police and other statutory investigative bodies to investigate the matter and based on their findings, take action. And sometimes, looking at the peculiarity of a case such as the gruesome massacre of the Ya Na and the other 40, the government takes particular interest in the case depending on its bearing on national security and so on.

But how did the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government handle the issue of Ya Na’s killing? Barbaric as the killing was, did the NPP government consider it a serious one that required particular attention? Was the NPP government interested in finding the killers? Did the NPP government consider the killing of the Ya Na and the others as a crime? And was the government interested in pursuing a criminal case? The simple answer is, NO!

In my candid opinion, the Kufuor-led NPP government did not think the Ya Na was criminally killed and therefore did nothing by way of investigating the crime, arresting the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. What the Kufuor-led government did was to brand the gruesome murder of the Ya Na a ‘war’ that was fought between the two opposing gates in the Dagbon chieftaincy matter. Others even referred to it as a mere family feud.

So what did the government at the time do? It set into motion an effort to deal with the issue of a war resulting from a chieftaincy feud that was fought between the supposed ‘armed forces’ of the Andani and Abudu gates in Dagbon . The Ya Na was thus treated as a casualty of that war. The NPP government did not look for the killers of the Ya Na as criminals who should be brought to justice, but rather treated them as victors in a war.

It was with the same mindset that the committee of eminent chiefs headed by the Otumfuor, Asantehene, was established to try to deal with the issue as a mere chieftaincy feud.

In the process- common sense should tell of us that- a chunk of the evidence that could possible lead to the murderers was destroyed. One can thus conclude that this was a deliberate act by the then NPP government to shield the killers and deny the victims, of the cold-blooded act at the Gbewa Palace, justice. It is common knowledge that within forty-eight hours after someone is killed, evidence gathering is uncomplicated, after which things get tough as the days go by. The Ya Na’s killing took place about nine long years before NDC assumed power in January 2009. If the NPP had wanted to gather the evidence of murder in the killing of the Ya Na, it could have easily done it within the first few days of the incident. But given the circumstances of the time, the government clearly had a different agenda.

The first indication to this fact was the declaration by then Press Secretary to President Kufuor, Ms Elisabeth Ohene, who said that the NPP government was on the side of the Abudus and would seek to protect their interest as against the Andanis- and that exactly, was what they did. The Ya Na was an Andani and therefore given the NPP philosophy as espoused by Elisabeth Ohene, the NPP was not interested in giving him justice.

The NPP government’s lack of interest in finding the killers of the Ya Na also palpably manifested in the action of then Minister of Justice & Attorney General, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He deliberately pressed a wrong charge against two persons found with the body parts of the Ya Na by arranging them before court on murder. Having tied the judge’s hands, he had no choice but to throw the case out.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) in opposition at the time obviously disagreed with the NPP’s approach and made a pledge to ensure the right thing was done in seeking justice for the Ya Na and the forty, if it got the political power needed to make this happen. But the party lost the 2004 elections. Then in 2008, the party again made a manifesto pledge to find the killers of the Ya Na and bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice, if it won the elections.

The NDC in its 2008 manifesto said “we will set up a new and truly non-partisan, professionally competent and independent Presidential Commission to reopen investigations into the murder of the Ya Na, Yakubu Andani II and his followers in March 2002.”

The NDC won the elections and made an attempt at fulfilling its manifesto pledge. But the Presidential Commission was not set up to reopen the investigations. Instead, some 9 people were rounded up and charged before court, after a dawn swoop one faithful day. They too have been acquitted and discharged by the court for lack of merit.

Since then the NPP has been on a propaganda binge against the Mills government for disappointing the Andani Gate in Dagbon. The government however, has all along been reassuring that it was still very much committed to the Ya Na case. But it was last Saturday on the Newsfile programme on Joy FM that Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Alex Segbefia, settled the issue as far as I am concerned. Fact is, the erstwhile NPP government led by Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor whose chief legal advisor at the time was NPP’s current flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, are to blame for the difficulty the Mills government is currently facing in tackling the case of the gruesome murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II. Alex Segbefia said the people of Dagbon expected some results by now but that has not been possible due to the bad investigations conducted by the previous regime.

My concern is, why has the government not been telling the people of Ghana and particularly, the Andanis this truth all along? It is very easy for the NPP and their propaganda chiefs like Kweku Baako to point at the manifesto pledge of the NDC and demand justice for the people of Dagbon within the three years of the Mills administration. The irony however is that it is the same media propagandists of the NPP who aided the Kufuor regime to perpetuate on the Dagbon people the pain they are having to endure in the gruesome murder of their Overlord.

What the NDC government must be doing is not to be reacting to the agitations of the Andani youth or any group for that matter but rather, harp on the reality of the Ya Na murder case. What is the reality? That, unlike the NPP, the NDC recognises that the Ya Na was murdered and that he was not killed in a war since there could not have been a war at the Gbewa Palace on the faithful day. That the NPP, in its quest to protect the interest of the Abudus as stated through the press secretary to the President at the time, has either deliberately or as a result of incompetence destroyed all the evidence that would have easily led any credible investigation to the murderers.

Unless the NDC is able to articulate this truth well enough in order to expose the mischief of NPP, they should not blame the Andani youth for demanding their pound of flesh as promised the nation in NDC’s 2008 manifesto.

Frankly, I do not know whose interest this government wants to serve in not telling it as it is in the matter of the Ya Na’s gruesome murder.