Six injured in Abudu-Andani clashes
2010-09-08 21:04:39This article has been read 1795 times.
Violence and a near bloodbath characterised the resumption of the Ya-Na murder trial yesterday when rival factions in the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute clashed at the precincts of the Fast Track High Court in Accra.
Ya Naa 1972-2002
The incident started just before the trial commenced when one group believed to belong to a faction in the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute allegedly attacked the other with iron bars and machetes, but the violence peaked after the hearing of the case of the 14 suspects accused of conspiracy to murder the Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, the Overlord of Dagbon.
Reports yet to be confirmed by the police indicate that six persons were injured in the melee and were rushed to hospital while some arrests were also made after police reinforcement arrived with riot control equipment.
The arrests were made when people outside the court premises started hurling missiles at the police and the court premises.
At the time of leaving the court premises, the Accra Regional Police Commander, Mrs Rose Bio-Atinga, had arrived to ensure that peace prevailed. She did not speak to the media, explaining that it was premature to do that.
People inside the court premises told the police that if care was not taken, they would be compelled to go along with their men to assist the police to ensure peace at the next sitting on Thursday.
Unprecedented in the trial was a heavy police presence on the court premises and court officials and attendants were subjected to body searches while a few of the representatives of the factions were allowed into the courtroom after the 14 suspects arrived at about 9:43 a.m.
The trial commenced in earnest until the absence of a competent Dagbani interpreter forced the court to adjourn the matter until Thursday after the pleas of the accused persons had been taken.
They all pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to murder the Ya- Na while another person, Zakaria Yakubu, now at large, is facing one count of murder of the Ya-Na.
When the matter was called, Mr Justice E.K. Ayebi, a Court of Appeal judge with additional responsibility as High Court judge, enquired from the defence whether they had all received copies of the bill of indictment and summary of evidence, to which their lead counsel, Mr Philip Addison, replied in the affirmative.
It became apparent at a time the pleas of the suspects were to be taken that the court did not have a Dagbani interpreter and therefore one was sent for, but his services were of no help to the court as he proved not to be fluent in the language.
The suspects are Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu, aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan, aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai, aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, a former District Chief Executive (DCE) for Yendi during the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime, and Iddrisu Iddi.
The rest are Alhassan Mohammed, aka Mohammed Cheampon, Abukari Nabeli, aka Kunkakums or Kooms, Mohammed Mustapha, Yakubu Yusif, aka Leftee, Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa, and Shani Imoro.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ms Gertrude Aikins, indicated that evidence would be led to show that Nabeli held two used lorry tyres at the time of the incident, which he put on the body of the Ya-Na, while Mustapha held a gallon of petrol on the body to set it ablaze.
She said Yussif had also held a gun to the body and that Yakubu had been seen with a Dolmar machine (a chainsaw).
Abdul Yussif, she said, had also been seen holding a camera and taking pictures of the scene and that after all that, another group of men, including the suspects and led by Iddi, had drummed, sung and danced around the burning body.
According to her, the two Royal Gates to the Dagbon paramount skin, namely the Andani and the Abudu, succeeded to the skin on a rotational basis.
The prosecution, however, said the system was disrupted in 1969, bringing about a protracted litigation between the two gates, which led to the de-skinment of the late Ya-Na Mahamadu Abdulai IV and the enskinment of the late Ya-Na Yakubu Andani.
During the celebration of the Eidul Adha festival in February 2002, she said, disturbances erupted in Yendi and intelligence reports indicated that arms had been smuggled into the town by both gates.
The District Security Committee (DISEC) imposed a curfew and placed a ban on the celebration of the Bugum (Fire) Festival.
An approval of the imposition of the curfew was given by the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) on March 23, 2002.
While the Abudu Gate embraced the decision, the Ya-Na saw it as an affront to his authority and on March 25, 2002 he decided to invite his elders to the Gbewaa Palace and sent Ziblim Abdulai to call one Mbadugu, Dugu-Lana.
While returning with Mbadugu, Ziblim was assaulted by some Abudu youth.
The attack by the Abudus was followed by sporadic shooting at the Gbewaa Palace later in the day, which intensified in the evening, leading to the death of some of the elders who were in the palace.
About 30 people lost their lives, with many others with all kinds of injury hospitalized. The situation worsened on March 26 and 27, 2002.
On March 27, 2002, the Gbewaa Palace fell to the Abudus. The palace was set ablaze and the shooting intensified, leading to many deaths. When some of the elders in the palace attempted to escape, they were shot dead.
Ms Aikins said Zakaria Yakubu, now at large, was seen by witnesses in the case decapitating Ya-Na Yakubu Andani near a kraal; after the Ya-Na had been dragged there by Mahamadu Abdulai and Shani Imoro.
After the suspects were put to the charge of the seven-member jury, Mr Justice Ayebi reminded the jurors of their role as those who would determine the outcome of the case for which reason they should remain neutral in order not to be influenced by anything except the evidence that would be led in court.