Just a couple weeks after the Andani royal family complained about President Mills’ apparent lack of interest in fulfilling his campaign promise to bring those who killed Ya Na Yakubu Andani to justice, scores of suspects were arrested. Many have since been set free and others are still in detention, awaiting prosecution or so we are told.
It’s been eight years since Yakubu Andani, the paramount chief of Dagbon, was murdered in cold blood – his body hacked into pieces and set on fire. Forty of his elders and aides were also killed.
The failure of the state to prosecute and jail anyone for planning and executing that dastardly act has been an intensely political issue. The Andani side of the Dagbon royal family is said to be aligned with the ruling NDC whiles the Abudu side is alleged to be in a certain deep friendship with the opposition NPP.
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The Andani believe that the Kufuor-led NPP administration didn’t care much about justice, even though Kufuor set up a commission to look into the Ya Na’s murder and tried, albeit disappointingly (or some might say, half-heartedly), to prosecute some people. Those prosecutions ended in embarrassing failure because the state didn’t have much evidence for conviction.
The promise to do differently was a big vote-grabber for the NDC – at least from the Andani ranks. Having taken the candidate for his word, they have been expecting the president to act from the minute he took the oath of office.
Just a week before Easter, the Andanis called a news conference and expressed disappointment that so little has been done to bring the Ya Na’s murderers to book. They demanded immediate action from government to demonstrate the president’s willingness to fulfil his promise.
That action, it seems, is what we saw over the weekend.
In a series of dawn swoops, police in the Northern Region rounded up about 40 ‘suspects’ on Saturday. Most of them were questioned and set free, supposedly on self-recognisance bail. But seven of them have been detained and are due to be charged someday soon.
All well and good.
The Andanis must be happy and the president and the NDC can claim that they are fulfilling their promise.
But are they, really? Not quite. Eyebrows are being raised.
The weekend arrests seem deliberately timed to appease the Andanis and get them off the back of the president for a while. They also seem to be an attempt by the police (and national security) to deflect criticism that they are losing control over the law and order situation in the country – after the mess they created in Techiman-Tuobodom (the national security advisor didn’t even know what was going on there) and the rampant killings in Bawku.
Ghanaians are asking: why now? Would the arrests have been made if the Andanis had bottled up their frustrations and kept them somewhere in the four corners of the Gbewaa Palace? And do the police have any real evidence to prosecute?
Answers should be forthcoming soon.
In the meantime, Ghanaians must be worried that these arrests over the Ya Na’s murder seem to have opened some fresh wounds in Dagbon. The situation in Dagbon has suddenly turned volatile again. The Abudus feel the arrests of their kin are politically-motivated and they have served notice that they are not going to give up without a fight – literally.
Lives could be lost and limbs could be broken.
The next few days are going to be tough – both for the security agencies and the people of Dagbon. Hopefully, there is some good reason for these arrests. Otherwise, heads must roll if they were just made for political expediency and to just prove a point that the security agencies are on top of the situation.
All that should be known when the suspects make their first appearance in court. Hopefully that should be as early as the next few days.