Inside Ya Na’s Backyard

Every court going lawyer will tell you that what makes legal practice exciting is the fact that you can travel to every part of Ghana to attend court. The more High Courts that the Chief Justice opens in Ghana, the wider the horizon of practicing lawyers become.

And so it was that last week I was in my Asylum Down Office when two clients walked in.

“Captain, we want you to go to Court in Bimbilla………

“Bimbilla!! Near Yendi, the Ya-Na’s Kingdom!!! I have 12 lawyers in this law firm –

“No, no, Captain. It is a kidnapping and robbery case – we want a senior lawyer like you, captain……..”

There are two ways of going to Bimbilla – either by road or by air. By road, the shortest route would be Accra-Adomi Bridge-Asikuma Hohoe – Nkwanta then Bimbilla by air just fly to Tamale, take a car to Yendi, then Bimbilla.

Thanks to NPP politics, I have been to Bimbilla at least four times, and what is more, one of the lawyers in my law firm comes from Bimbilla. In fact, ironically, he was the NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Nanumbah North!!!

Wednesday 8th April 2021. I arrived at Kotoka International Airport to see that Ghana’s Airport has undergone tremendous transformation. Where we used to board aircraft to Europe and America is now all for domestic traffic.

Reader believe it or not, within 45 minutes I was in Tamale, aboard “Passion Air” plane.

My client had arranged a car to take me to Bimbilla so straight from the Airport we set off, heading south. We passed Airborne Force (Barwah Barracks) named after the Army Commander Major General Barwah, killed on 24th February 1966 in order to overthrow President Kwame Nkrumah.

We passed 6BN Barracks, then hit the Bolga-Tamale highway, into the Tamale township, on a very good road, past central Tamale where they are building an interchange, then turned left on the Yendi highway, 90 kilometers, very good asphaltic highway.

By 7:00pm we were in the Ya Na capital, to see a very crowded community – everywhere, people, on motor bikes, in prajea, on bicycles, in cars……we went to some joint for dinner, called DAKAR Royals kitchen.

Some very attractive well shaped waitress with generous endowment of excess flesh at right places came up.

“Sir, what will you have? We have fufu, TZ, Banku, Rice and we have Okro soup, bra –

“What? In my language, “bra” means “come” or a woman’s menstrual cycle!!!

Around 9pm we hit the road again, heading further south, along a very good road, towards Bimbilla.

It was 10pm when we got to Bimbila, and reader, the laterite Street was full of people, nobody wearing nose masks. So we drove straight to the hotel.

Next morning, Thursday 8:30am, we were on our way straight to Bimbila District Court, a custom built old looking courtroom, with benches and a wall clock, disused, saying the time was 4:45pm!!!

At about 9:00am, the familiar yell of the court clerk: “Court rise!!!”

Reader hold on who is the Magistrate? You know, all the 35 years as a lawyer, the judges I fear most are those who are my friends. They will smile broadly with you, joke, tell tales but on the bench, in the courtroom they behave as if they have never seen you.

One day I filed a motion ex parte before the High Court and just as I got to the Courtroom I realized I had not attached a critical exhibit. The judge will certainly eat me up. And, my God – the judge – Her Lordship Mrs. Justice Getrude Torkonno, my classmate at the Ghana Law School, now a Justice of the Supreme Court.

My heart was in my mouth when the case was called. She was sitting in chambers. Oh God help me – I had not met her for almost five years.

“Eeeeee— Nkrabeah, how are you? Long time…….”

I was so nervous I could not answer, but she was writing title of the case, Counsel and so on,  and talking at the same time……” this is your first time in my Court, Nkrabeah…”

Suddenly she said: “Application granted as prayed.”

Reader I felt so relieved I just felt I should run away before she changed her mind!!!

In front of me as the District Magistrate was His worship Mr. Sumaila Mbachi who worked as a junior in my firm for three years before being appointed as a magistrate and posted to Tamale.

“Captain, you are welcome to Bimbila.” “Thank you, my lord.”

The case was called five accused persons charged with kidnapping and robbery. I applied for bail speaking for over thirty minutes, and my Lord painstakingly recorded every word.

When I furnished, the magistrate asked the Police to respond whereupon he said they are opposed to bail because investigations are ongoing, and that one of them is a Nigerian citizen.

I rose to my feet. “My Lord the nationality of an accused person is not an issue for refusing or granting bail. Ghanaians are almost everywhere in the globe just as there are several nationalities here in Ghana – Nigeria, Mali, Kenya, Egyptian……..

My lord wrote for a long time. The courtroom was full no standing space. Apparently word was in town that some big Accra Lawyer has come to the Court.

Suddenly my Lord said: This court has no jurisdiction to try kidnapping or robbery case. Accused discharged.”

Armed policemen quickly picked up the five accused persons into a waiting Police car amid siren blowing, took them away. The courtroom emptied.

“Captain, safe journey back to Accra…” said my lord.

I slept all the way from Bimbilla to Yendi to Tamale, boarded Passion Air, and by 6pm I was in my law office in Accra.

By Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey