REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY (YENDI EVENTS)Introduction
From 25th to 27th March, 2002, factional fighting broke out in Yendi, the paramount seat of the Dagbon people in the northern region of Ghana, leading to the death of several people including Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, the King of Dagbon, who was decapitated. Many were reported injured in the fighting; several houses including the Gbewaa Palace were burnt and looted, and several properties were destroyed. The three-day combat triggered a mass exodus of residents to safe locations outside Yendi, particularly Tamale and its environs, and nearly led to a breakdown of law and order in northern Ghana. The Yendi carnage created nationwide panic and anxiety, and compelled the Government to declare a state of emergency in the Dagbon area.
On 25th April, 2002, His Excellency President John Agyekum Kufuor by Constitutional Instrument No. C.I. 36, 2002 appointed this Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Justice I. N. K. Wuaku, to investigate the Yendi events, identify the perpetrators, and make appropriate recommendations to the President. According to Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Instrument, the terms of reference of the Commission were:
- To make a full, faithful, and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of and establish the facts leading to, the events and the resultant deaths and injuries in Yendi in the Dagbon Traditional area of the Northern Region between 25th and 27th March, 2002.
- To identify those responsible for the events and resultant deaths and injuries of persons and to recommend appropriate sanctions or actions against any person found to have caused, been responsible for or been involved in the violence and resultant deaths and injuries;
- To inquire into any matter which the Commission considers incidental or reasonably related to the events and the resultant deaths and injuries;
- To submit within one month its report to the president giving reasons for its findings and recommendations.
Members of the Commission, namely Justice I. N. K Wuaku (Retired Supreme Court Judge), Professor Kwesi Yankah (Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana); and Mrs. Florence Brew, an educationist were sworn in at the Castle by the President on 6th May, 2002. In accordance with Sections 4 and 8 of C.I. 36 Mrs. Regina Apotsi, a State Attorney, and Mr. G. K. Owoo, a retired Chief State Attorney were subsequently appointed as Secretary and Counsel to the Commission respectively on 15th May, 2002. A budget was approved for the operations of the Commission by the Minister of Finance in accordance with Section 7 of C.I. 36.
The Government later announced Sunyani as the venue for the Commission’s sittings. By 28th May, the Commission including its Secretary, Counsel, and a core administrative staff had arrived in Sunyani to begin opera¬tions. Accommodation was provided by the Regional Co-ordinating Council.
The Commission held its inaugural sitting on 29th May, at the Teacher’s Hall, which also became the regular venue for the Commission’s public sittings. From 2nd to 29th August, however, the Commission moved to the Main Hall of the College of Renewable Natural Resources due to the unavailability of the regular venue.
On 30th May, the Commission visited Yendi to familiarize itself with the terrain, and see the extent of damage caused by the conflict. Places visited include the Gbewaa Palace, police station, Yendi Secondary School, the military barracks, the Government hospital, the mortuary, Sambu, where most of the deceased were buried, and other places considered relevant in the investigations. To maintain a posture of neutrality, no courtesy call was paid on any of the two factions, Andani and Abudu Gates, involved in the crisis. The Commission, as part of its familiar¬ization tour, spent some time in Tamale to confer with the Regional Security Council, and the Acting Northern Regional Minister.
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