He invidiously campaigned on the sub-ethnic credo of “Adzepa Dze Owo Fie a Oye” (“A precious thing had better be kept at home and among ourselves”), rather than the more salutary pursuit of a comprehensive national development agenda; and so we are none-too-surprised that such flagrant exhibition of ethnic chauvinism appears now to be unfolding at the expense of the traditionally, materially deprived North, in general, but even more tragically, at the expense of the grieve-wracked Dagbon royal family, in particular.
Of course, the foregoing allusion is to the recent ruling of the Accra Fast-Track High Court in which some 15 people accused of regicide, in the form of the alleged March 2002 massacre that occurred in the Gbewaa Palace of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, in Yendi, were acquitted and discharged for both an egregious lack of evidence and the government prosecutor’s criminal attempt to suborn some 12 witnesses in a dastardly act aimed at gratuitously and tendentiously inducing a politically favorable verdict.
In delivering his resonant “not-guilty” verdict, the presiding judge, Justice E. K. Ayebi, poignantly observed that “not only did the state woefully fail to prove the guilt of the accused, [but even more significantly, albeit also disturbingly,] evidence [provided] by the 12 prosecution witnesses had been inconsistent [and clearly appears to have been] fabricated against the accused persons [and had, therefore,] subsequently [been] discredited on cross-examination” (See “I’m Frustrated by Ruling on Ya-Na Trial – Mills” MyJoyOnline.com 3/31/11).
Further, Justice Ayebi noted: “In law, the death of the Ya-Na must be proven beyond reasonable doubt, especially in the absence of a death certificate. The prosecution failed to prove that the charred remains were the body of the Ya-Na. [Consequently,] the accused persons cannot be held liable for the death of the Ya-Na.”
And even more damningly, Justice Ayebi clinically observed that in a legitimately constituted court of law, “It is not sufficient for the prosecution to say that the Ya-Na was dead and leave at that. Even the investigation [that was reportedly conducted in the wake of the Ya-Na’s alleged murder] was not conclusive [with regard to] the identity of the [purportedly] charred body [of the Ya-Na], nor was a DNA examination conducted to prove that the body [in question] was [,indeed,] that of the Ya-Na.”
In essence, Justice Ayebi’s clinical contention was that in seeking to induce a politically favorable outcome in the Ya-Na murder case at all costs, the Mills-Mahama government of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) appears to have deliberately and literally thrown all caution to the wind, as it were, by not only criminally inducing prosecution witnesses to flatly lie, in of itself a felony, but even more significantly, the Barton-Oduro-led prosecution had cavalierly presumed to insult the intelligence of the court by sophomorically predicating its evidence of the Ya-Na’s death purely on guesswork.
Needless to say, for the critical thinker to fully appreciate the flagrant manner in which the Mills-Mahama government attempted to, literally, hi-jack as well as seriously undermine the credibility of the Ghanaian judicial system, one has to meticulously recall the historical circumstances surrounding the appointment of Justice Ayebi to the Ya-Na case. And here must promptly be recalled the fact that the original judge who had been assigned the case, Justice Anthony Oppong, had been summarily removed by Mr. Barton-Oduro, Ghana’s deputy attorney-general, on the clearly concocted pretext that the former had been overheard in, of all places, a drinking bar recklessly vowing to railroad the case (See “Oppong’s Case Painfully Recalls Geoffrey Bing and J. B. Danquah” Ghanaweb.com 9/2/10).
It is also even more significant to recall the fact that at the time of his assignment to the case, Justice E. K. Ayebi had just been promoted to the Fast-Track High Court. The oblique expectation could, therefore, not have been any less than the fact that the Mills-led government of the National Democratic Congress desired a guilty verdict by hook or crook. Of course, such brazen insult to both his intelligence and credibility could not have been altogether lost on Justice Ayebi.
Anyway, at the time, I vividly recall observing that Justice Ayebi had been wickedly thrust into a no-win situation by a vigilante-minded National Democratic Congress government. And predictably, in the wake of the incontrovertible Ayebi verdict, rather than maturely accept defeat, one that was largely engendered by gross prosecutorial incompetence, President John Evans Atta-Mills has, rather unwisely, resorted to the primrose path of judicial impugnation, thereby ironically undermining the legitimacy of his own presidency.
If this strikingly appears to reflect the “Gbagbo-esque” tack of a losing Candidate Atta-Mills in the lead-up to Election 2012, then Ghanaians had better prepare to do a “Mubarak” on both the Mills-Mahama government and the so-called National Democratic Congress!
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
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).