Ya-Na Murder Trial : One charged with murder, eight with conspiracy

Alhassan Brimah, one of nine arrested and held for the murder of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani, the late overlord of Dagbon, has officially been charged with murder.

The rest have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder when they appeared before a District Magistrate Court on Wednesday.

The state prosecution led by Mrs Getrude Aikins who substituted the charge for the nine accused pleaded with the court presided over by Ms Patricia Quansah to give the prosecution two more weeks to complete investigations against the accused.

She also prayed the court to remand the accused in custody to avoid their interference with investigations, but this was strongly objected to by counsel for the accused, Atta Akyea, arguing that his clients would in no way interfere with investigations.

He also stated that their continuous detention is a deliberate attempt by the prosecution to undermine their constitutional right to freedom, and asked that they should be granted bail.

The court, however, upheld the plea by the prosecution and refused bail for the accused persons. All the accused persons were in court except Iddrisu Iddi, who the court learnt was sick and was on admission.

The case has been adjourned to May 19, 2010.

The accused are Iddrisu Iddi, 76; Alhaji Baba Abdulal, 56; Kwame Alhassan, 53; Yidana Sugri, 42; Mohammed Kojo, 45; Mahamadu Abdulai, 57; Sayibu Mohammed, 34; Yakubu Mahamadu, 42, and Alhassan Braimah.

They are all from the Abudu faction in the protracted Dagbon chieftaincy clashes with the Aandanis, one of which turned bloody in 2002, culminating in the death of the overlord of Dagbon Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II and several others.

They suspects were arrested on April 10, this year, and initially arraigned before an Accra Magistrate’s Court on April 12, on three counts of conspiracy to murder, murder and unlawful military training.

Early on, Mrs Getrude Aikins told the court that because the crime was committed as far back as 2002, investigations into the case have been “difficult”, hence the need for the prosecution to be given more time, with the hope that they would be able to do something within two weeks.

She noted that the government’s whitepaper on the Wuako Commission permits the police to undertake further investigations if “specific evidence” is issued to them. She said the accused were brought before the court to seek permission for their detention to avoid falling foul of Article 14 (3), which states that no one should be detained beyond 48 hours.

Atta Akyea, who prayed to the court to grant the accused bail, argued that since the prosecution admitted that the investigations are incomplete, and for the possibility that investigations could end without his clients being implicated, it is, therefore, necessary that the court admit them to bail.

He accused the security agencies of being “impotent” in finding the killers, and asked that his clients should not be used as “guinea pigs”. He referred to the previous charges against them as a “ruse” to deprive them their liberty.

He noted that there are very “serious men” including doctors from the Northern Region who are willing to “put their jobs on the line” to stand in as sureties when granted bail, with a promise that they would be available whenever they are needed.

Refusing bail for the accused persons, Ms Patricia Quansah, the trial judge, explained that since the counsel for the accused has applied for bail at the High Court (a superior court), it is beyond her jurisdiction to grant them bail.

Since her decision may conflict with that of the High Court, she advised the counsel to exhaust his application there, which is due for hearing on May 18, 2010.

There were heavy security in court today after an Andani group had alleged, days before, that credible information they have gathered suggests some troublemakers plan to cause mayhem in court when the case is called for hearing.

However, the trial went on successful without any confusion, in or outside the precinct of the court

Story by Isaac Essel/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana