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General News of Saturday, 6 July 2002

Source: gna

Ya Na had foreknowledge of his murder - Witness

Sunyani (Brong Ahafo) - Mr Abdulai Andani, a driver at the Dagbon State Technical School at Yendi on Thursday told the Wuaku Commission that the late Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, had foreknowledge about his murder. "The Ya-Na told us to go far away from him and if he is killed, then, we perform his funeral," he said.

Andani, who referred to the late Ya Na as "my senior brother," was testifying as the 60th witness at the commission's sitting at Sunyani. He added that the Ya-Na was certain about what was going to happen to him and told them on Monday, 25 March, to be prepared to organise his funeral.

The witness told the commission that he stayed at home and never went to the palace throughout the conflict period. Explaining in an answer to a question by the commission as to why he did not go to defend the Ya Na, he said; "we were not prepared for war because the Andanis don't fight.

Andani said while returning from Tamale with his school headmaster after attending a meeting at the Ghana Secondary School (GHANASCO) at about 4.30pm on 25 March, he saw some fighters from the Abudu Gate in local bullet proof attire and holding guns. He identified two of the fighters as "No Way" and one Odartey, who was a cook at the Yendi Secondary School, when pressed to do so by counsel for the Commission, Mr George Owoo.

Andani stated that at home he was informed that the Yendi town-ship had not known peace that morning due to sporadic firing. Witness said on Tuesday, 26 March when he went to work, fighting resumed and the headmaster was compelled to ask them to go home in order not to be hit by stray bullets, witness added.

Andani said in the morning of 27 March, eight persons, who claimed their houses had been burnt, took refuge in his house.Witness said they were discussing the calamity that had befallen the town when one Yakubu Yusif, alias "Leftie," who was riding a motorbike, came to tell them that, "we have cut off your leader's head."

He added, however, that Yusif was not carrying anything at the back of his motorbike.

The Commission called Yusif to the witness box at this point and asked Andani if he knew him (Yusif) to which he replied in the affirmative.

When leading counsel for the Andanis, Charles Hayibor took over the cross-examination he asked Andani where he knew "No Way". He is a "lotto seller" and lives at Yendi, Andani replied.

Counsel: how did you understand Lefty's statement that "we have cut-off your leader's head?"

Andani: I understood it to mean that they had killed the senior one, the Ya-Na.

Counsel: How was he (Leftie) dressed?

Andani: He was wearing a T-shirt over trousers.

Witness told the Commission when counsel for the Abudus, Nana Obiri Boahen took over the cross-examination that they did not challenge Yusif when he informed them about the statement he made "because we were frightened."

Nana Obiri Boahen: you did not see Yusif (Leftie) on 27 March and neither did he tell you anything?

Andani: He came there, my lord, and gave us the information.

Nana Boahen: You were among a group of Andanis who set off to attack the Bolen-Lana's house.

Andani: That is not true, my lord.

Andani stated that he did not know that the Andani fighters had occupied

Nayirifo (palace area) One and Two between 25-27 March in answer to a question from Nana Obiri Boahen.

He added that it was not true that both the Andanis and the Abudus were defending their leaders, maintaining his earlier statement that the Andanis were not prepared for war.

Commission: When Yusif (Leftie) told you about the death of the Ya-Na, was he informing you or boasting?

Andani: He was boasting.

Commission: Why didn't you go to work on Wednesday, 27 March?

Andani: Because everybody was running away and I stayed in my house throughout.

Yusif, who is a Yendi-based building contractor, broke down in tears at the tail end of his evidence when Mr George Owoo, Counsel for the Commission, compelled him to mention the names of members of his family whom he said he took refuge with at the Guest- house of the Northern Regional Rural Integrated Programme.

Yusif, 61st witness, continued to shed tears over the allegation levelled against him by Andani, even after his discharge by the Commission. Andani had alleged in his evidence that on Wednesday, 27 March, Yusif came to him in the morning on a motorbike with the information that the Abudus had decapitated their (Andani) leader.

Yusif on resuming his seat in the audience remarked to some of the Abudus that, "this man is making false allegation against me whilst I have been taking care of his two daughters who have stayed with me since the death of his wife."

Yusif told the Commission in his evidence that he left Yendi at 9.30 am on Monday, 25 March for Bumbonayiri, a town in the Yendi District, where he was constructing a nurses' bungalow and remained there till the evening.

He said he learnt of the firing at Yendi between the two gates through a market woman who informed him at his project site that pandemonium had broken out in Yendi. Witness said on his way back at about 6.30pm, the information about the clash was confirmed when he realised that the Yendi-Gushegu barrier was deserted by the security men on duty.

For fear of my life, I did not even go to my house but proceeded to the house of my friend, Suleman Danlardi Alhassan, and convinced him to accompany me to seek refuge at the NORRIP Guest House, he said.

Witness added that, that night he managed to go for his two wives and children to join them at the Guest- house. Yusif told the Commission: "I actually did not witness the hostilities because I remained at the place (Guest House) till around 12.30pm on Wednesday when I left for my house."

When Mr Charles Hayibor, Leading Counsel for the Andanis suggested to Yusif that all those who sought refuge at the NORRIP Guest House arrived there in the morning of Monday, 25 March, witness replied that he could not know "because at that time I was in Bumbonayiri."

To another suggestion that none of those who ran to the Guest House left the place till Wednesday evening, Yusif said, "I cannot know because I am not the watchman nor a security personnel at the place."

Hayibor: "It was when you left NORRIP that Andani said he saw you?"

Yusif: "No, I never saw Andani throughout the period of the fight, it is not true." Witness replied in an answer to a question by the Commission that he heard of the Ya-Na's death on the radio in the evening of Wednesday, 27 March.

Yusif, who described himself as only a sympathiser of the Abudus explained to the Commission that "all those who are not royals of the Abudu Gate, but mere sympathisers are referred to as "Alugutee". Non-royals of the Andani Gate but who are the gate's sympathisers are also called "Churuu", he added.

Witness explained that in Dagbani parlance, each of the two sympathising groups, are regarded as leaves, "meaning that, without them, the Dagbon State would continue to exist."

Mr Alhassan Mohammed Yusif, alias King Hassan, a Principal Storekeeper at the Yendi Secondary School, who also appeared before the Commission said that although he knew about the conflict he did not take part. He was alleged to have killed one Fuseini Kuma during the conflict when Iddrisu Yakubu testified before the Commission earlier.

Alhassan, the 58th witness, also denied knowing Nantogmah Alhassan Andani, son of the late Ya-Na who testified that he saw him (Alhassan) holding a gun during the crisis. He said all allegations levelled against him were false since he was nowhere near where the fight took place.

The witness said he lost his mother on 11 March and after she had been buried the following day he left for Accra to welcome his uncle, Alhaji Lukeman Iddris who had returned from Mecca. He said he returned to Yendi in the evening of Sunday, 24 March and engaged two masons to work on his building in preparation towards the final funeral rites of his late mother.

Alhassan stated that it was when he was supervising the masons on the morning of Monday, 25 March, that he heard gunshots in town and this forced them to close at 1pm. He said although they went to continue with the renovation on Tuesday, 26 March they had to abandon the work because of the intense firing.

Alhassan said he stayed indoors on Wednesday, 27 March till about 1pm when calm had restored. Asked why he gave his statement to the police as late as 2 July, witness said it was because that was the time police approached him to do so.

Counsel for the Andanis, Mr Hayibor, suggested to witness that he was seen riding a motorbike with a gun on Tuesday, 26 March, heading towards the Bolen-Lana's house but witness replied that it was not true.

Hayibor: I put it to you that you actively participated in the mayhem in Yendi.

Alhassan: It is not true since I cannot fight whilst still mourning my dead mother.

Commission: Did you know there was tension in town?

Alhassan: I heard about the curfew but it was lifted.

Commission: Why didn't you go back to work after the burial of your mother?

Alhassan: Because I obtained permission from my employers.

Commission: So you weren't moved by the tragedy after the conflict and continued to work on your building? Did you lose a relative?

Alhassan: No, my lord.

Iddrisu Yakubu, 57th witness, told the Commission that on his return from Tamale at about 5pm on Monday, 25 March, he went to the Gbewaa Palace where a lot of people had gathered, adding that some youth told him that the Andanis were attacked by the Abudus in the morning.

He said they were at the palace around 10am on Tuesday when they heard gunshots been fired at the palace of the Ya-Na by the Abudus. "Around 10am on Tuesday too, we heard gunshots towards the palace from the Abudu Gate and one Musah, a youth in the palace was hit in the leg by a bullet."

Witness said they became trapped inside the palace and did not know what to do because of the sporadic shooting by the Abudus. Yakubu also told the Commission that he later risked his life and left the palace to inform his father who was sick and in the house about the intensity of the shooting by the Abudus.

When the Commission's Counsel asked him why he left the palace when their lives were in danger, witness replied that he wanted to take his father to the palace where he felt was safer. Yakubu continued that when his father left the house, one Kwame Akyiri, who had hidden himself at a corner near their house, shot at his father, but he managed to proceed to the palace.

He said while fleeing with a colleague, Fusheni Kuma in the evening, they saw a group of people who had taken positions behind the Gbewaa palace.Witness alleged that Alhassan, a member of the group, shot at Fusheni, who was in front of him but missed his target because he (Fusheni) managed to hide in the cemetery.

At the invitation of the Commission, witness identified Alhassan at the auditorium as the one who shot Fusheni. Alhassan, however, denied knowing witness and said the allegation against him was false. Yakubu, who said Fusheni was now dead, told the Commission that the distance between him and Fusheni when the latter was hot by Alhassan was about 15.6 metres.

Alhassan Zakaria, a watchman at the Ghana Telecom Repeater Station in San, near Yendi, also gave evidence before the Commission as the 59th witness. He was alleged to have told the police that one Alolgah, an employee of Telecom and some people came to the station on Monday, 25 March to work on the telephone lines, which were down.

Zakaria who was scheduled as the first witness for the day refused to hold the Quoran to take the oath saying that he needed to "cleanse" himself before doing so. The Commission, therefore, had no choice but to allow him to "cleanse" himself and called other witnesses.

When Zakaria finally gave his evidence, he told the Commission that Alolgah and his maintenance team rather came to the station on Tuesday, 26 March and not Monday, 25 March. Witness said although he knew all those who came to the San Station with

Alolgah as staff of Telecom, he could not mention their names. Zakaria stated that the maintenance team told him that the trunk telephone calls to and from Yendi were not going through.

He said in reply to a question from the Commission that maintenance teams from Tamale frequently visited the station on routine maintenance duties. At the close of the sitting, Justice Wuaku advised witnesses not to get angry when counsel asked them questions since according to him they were doing their job.

He stated that any of the counsel could have appeared for any of the Gates and their job should not be seen as taking sides in the matter.