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Opinions of Saturday, 23 April 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Justice Ayebi is Right on Target!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I read Kofi Ata’s quite interesting analysis of the trial of the 15 suspects in the just-concluded Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II’s regicide and became even more convinced that the presiding judge, E. K. Ayebi, delivered the soundest verdict under very trying circumstances (See “ ‘Corpus Delicti,’ The Ya-Na Murder Trial, Did The Judge Err?” Ghanaweb.com 4/7/11).
First of all, the writer wrongfully faults Justice Ayebi for deciding to deliver his verdict based on the findings presented to the erstwhile Kufuor administration by the Wuaku Commission, on the rather curious grounds that in the case of the Ghana-at-Fifty trial, Justice Marfo, the presiding judge, had dismissed the charges preferred against Messrs. Wereko Brobbey and Kwadwo Mpinai because the latter had appeared before the Ghana-at-Fifty Commission of Enquiry under prosecutorial immunity.
In essence, according to Mr. Kofi Ata, Justice Ayebi ought to have used the ruling by Justice Marfo as a judicial precedent by off-handedly disposing of the case without the wasteful process of a trial.
On the face of it, Mr. Ata seems to be spot on target. The problem here, however, is that as the trial judge, Justice Ayebi had no obligation, whatsoever, to instruct the Government’s attorney – or the Attorney-General’s Office – on how to prepare its case for trial. In brief, common sense and experience/precedence ought to have clearly informed the Atta-Mills government of the fact that the inconclusive findings of a presidential commission of enquiry, in which most of the witnesses had, presumably, been granted prosecutorial immunity, or waivers, ought not to have been flagrantly and lazily presented before a legitimately constituted court of law as fool-proof evidence of criminal culpability.
Rather, as others have also noted elsewhere, the findings of the Wuaku Commission ought to have been appropriated as a launching pad into the conduct of a comprehensive investigation into Ya-Na Yakubu Andani’s regicide.
Secondly, Kofi Ata raises the kind of signal question upon which most Ghanaians ought to focus their sedulous attention: Which is the fact that even though more than 40 people had, reportedly, been killed in the 2002 Yendi hostilities, to-date, the Mills-led government of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) seems to be obsessively and gratuitously focused on finding the killers of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani, rather than all the killers involved in the Yendi massacre. In sum, what Mr. Kofi Ata aptly and obliquely suggests by the foregoing is the rather nauseating fact that the Atta-Mills government may be more invested in scoring cheap and empty political points vis-à-vis the Ya-Na regicide, than being seriously concerned with bringing the rule of law and justice to each and every one of the murder suspects in the Yendi massacre.
Thirdly, all well-meaning Ghanaian citizens ought to be asking why the Attorney-General decided to put some 15 dubious suspects in the trial dock, when only two people had been specifically fingered for having been sighted with chopped up human remains alleged to be the body parts of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II in their personal and physical possession? In other words, the glaring inference here is that it eerily appears as if the Mills-Mahama government is, somehow, far more interested in securing just about any form of criminal conviction in the Yendi regicide/massacre than actually finding and prosecuting the real suspects or killers of the Dagbon Supreme Overlord and his courtiers.
Couple the preceding with the desultory evidence presented the Ayebi court by a Brig.-Gen. Wadorani, and it becomes indisputably glaring that Justice Ayebi had no other sound alternative than to simply discharge the 15 suspects presented to the court by the Attorney-General. On the latter score, this is what Mr. Kofi Ata has to report: “The defense’s lead counsel also stated, ‘There was an embarrassing failure by one of the prosecution witnesses – Brigadier Wadorani, who was tasked to conduct autopsy – to state in clear, unambiguous terms that the charred body was that of the Ya-Na. Instead, he told the court that the charred body was that of a male adult but could not state as a matter of fact [as to] whether it was [,indeed,] that of the Ya-Na.”
What is clear here is that the military tribunal- and vigilante-minded National Democratic Congress partisans would rather have their political and ideological opponents do the proverbial heavy-lifting that a sound criminal investigation entails and then docilely and timidly hand over the forensically sound results of such investigation, so that the Rawlings posse could facilely use the same to glorify themselves and cynically boost their fast-dwindling political fortunes at the expense of the Dagbon royal family.
The fact of whether the Wuaku Commission ought to have labeled the 2002 Yendi hostilities that allegedly precipitated the murder of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani and some 40 members of his court as a “family feud” rather than a “war,” is decidedly beside the point. What the Wuaku Commission Report unmistakably and quite successfully sought to put forth is the fact that rather than having been unilaterally provoked, the 2002 Yendi hostilities was clearly the classical case of a “melee,” a battle-royal, or a spontaneously ignited open brawl whose deeper causes had apparently been simmering for quite awhile.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author, most recently, of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.
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