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Opinions of Thursday, 13 October 2005

Columnist: Harruna Baba Alhassan

Dagbon Conlfict, The Ghana Bar Association & Justice

In two separate ceremonies on 29th and 30th September 2005, Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah, the Chief Justice, advised members of the bench to exhibit high professionalism in the performance of their duties. The Chief Justice also told lawyers to strive to build good reputation by upholding the truth to their clients, courts and the entire nation, The chief Justice?s call to uphold the truth is a great thinking. I wish this type of thinking was present at the time of the Wuako Commission and the trial of those suspected of killing of the Ya-Na and his followers in 2002.

The Chief Justice?s statement is leading me to ask some questions about our judges, the Office of the Attorney-General and the Ghana Bar Asociation (GBA). In the 1980s and 1990s the Ghana Bar Association was hardworking to help solve the murder of the judges under the PNDC Government. Since the Dagbon conflict erupted 3 years ago, the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has not done anything to support a just solution.and make our legal system respectable.

The Wuako Commission which was set up to investigate the conflict concluded that the Ya-Na and others were killed in war. I feel that even it was in a war some of the things that happened in Yendi would have become a wake-up call for the GBA to say something as a way of ensuring that our legal system did not deny justice to people. There were so many problems in the procedures of the Wuaku Commission and the trial of the two suspects who were later released. I believe that the Wuaku commission did not consider all the legal and moral issues in the case. This is because it is one thing to kill your opponent in war but it another thing to mutilate the body. The mutilating the body of the Ya-Na was serious matter but the Attorney General?s Office and our judges refused to consider these and the moral aspects in dealing with the case. The law says that when people act freely, and knowingly and deliberately, there is chance to convict them of criminal liability. The Abudus acted freely, knowingly and deliberately. So why were they not charged? I think that the Prosecution (Attorney General), the judges and the Ghana Bar Association failed to help the process of justice. The necessary connection between law and morality has been debated for centuries and in spite of the absence of consensus, all legal systems and laws must satisfy a minimum of morality test. However, our legal system and the Attorney?General failed to find the perpetrators in the Ya-Na?s case.

By doing nothing to really find the killers, the Attorney-General at the time (Akuffo-Addo) supported the ruling that the killing and mutilation of the Yan-Na?s body is acceptable. It also means that it is moral. We can see here that The Attorney General?s Office is guilty because it has not pursued the case in any other way in terms of the criminal and civil aspects and peace-building. No appeals have been made, no one is charged.

The action by the Abudus was against basic reason and civility, and the failure of Attorney ?General?s Office to the search for justice in such a heinous crime is, an offence to reason, and a sin. According to one great philosopher, the offences against our reason would still be sinful even if God did not exist. The Attorney General (Akuffo-Addo) and other Government agencies that did not get things right, and which rather ensured that none of the Abudus were charged are sinners. They refused to use their heads properly.

The justice of any court ruling or decision is relative to the moral judgment and any judge must puts his/her reason to best use to look morally and truly at the interests of the parties to conflict If the Attorney-General?s office had been careful in morally considering the best way to find justice, the charge of ? conspiracy to murder? put forward by the prosecution would have been something different. You see the charge of ? conspiracy to murder? was carefully carved out to leave room for the easy acquittal of the suspects. The charge was also too narrow and ensured that none of the other Abudus who had accepted responsibility for being part of the so-called war would ever be charged for the atrocities. How can you have a war without finding any real human beings who participated in the war? May be the Attorney-General believed that some Ghosts or jinn were fighting in the war for the Abudus and the ghosts or jinn killed the Ya-Na. ** Questions: Did Akkuffo-Addo and his staff members in the Attorney ?Generals? office need to have a person from their families to be killed and mutilated before they could bring forth a better charge against people who confess to be belonging to the killing group of Abudus?

It is now more than 2 years since the events ??Is the Ghana Bar Association still in existence? Does our current Chief justice who calls for ?UPHOLDING THE TRUTH? know anything about the Ya-Na?s case? Is the call by the Chief Justice to uphold the truth genuine? Well, if it is genuine, let the chief Justice call for a renewal of investigations into the killings.

For the Ghana Bar Association, Who gagged them? Who Is pulling the strings? Did the GBA remain silent because the Ya-Na did not belong to the Association as in the case of the murdered judges?

Why did the judges in the trial of the two Abudu suspects fail to be guided by their morality? Did they really have any moral values in regard to life? The judges were free to apply their own moral beliefs and values to give justice, but these GOD-FEARING judges (who call themselves real Christians) told Ghanaians that it is ok to kill someone and cut off the head from the dead body and burn it, and still be innocent. All these shortcomings and deliberate omissions show the type of morality by those who had the power (Government agencies) to ensure proper prosecution and justice. Law is about principles, morality and rights, but the Attorney General at the time (Akuffo ?Addo ) failed to uphold the principles of justice, and rights of the victims. The effect of this failure is that the victims? families are reeling from the lack of justice, and the Dagomba are at each other?s throats with serious divisions among the people. Yet Akuffo -Addo aspires to be a president of Ghana. How can some one who could not show principle when so many people were killed be able to do anything better for the poor people of Ghana? It has now been reported that even the recent case where more than 20 Ghanaians were murdered in Gambia, Akuffo-Addo has not been able ot do anything. He is not able to talk tough to get the release of the 2 more Ghanaians who are still imprisoned in Gambia. I want Akuffo?Addo and the current Attorney-General, the Chief Justice, and Ghana Bar Association to know that even if the Abudus were justified to kill the Ya-Na, they were not justified to do the following on defenseless dead body of the Ya-Na.

1. mutilating the body, 2) burning the body, and 3) filming their event. You see, mutilating the body was intentional and not a self-defense issue and that is why justice for the Andanis is very important issue. The legal experts say that justice is always an issue where there is conscious and purposive activity. In this case the Abudus also had motive and that is to kill Yana and get the chance to install a new Ya-Na from their side. Moral responsibility rests with an agent undertaking an action with free will, knowingly and deliberately. In fact all these acts were accompanied by a state of mind, which is criminal. Does our legal system accept such inhuman acts? Why did the GBA not say anything when none was charged?

I was thinking that the BAR ASSOCIATION would act in some way to protect the innocent and speak for the victims like it did for the murdered judges. A government and a Bar association with a reputation for justice will speak for the victims. It seems the government has a reputation for silence and indifference, but that is not what I know the GBA to be.

Please do something!!



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