In US$4 NCA Case Two Years In Trial
The High Court hearing the US$4 million National Communication Authority (NCA) case has been treated some interesting testimonies including revelations by a Deputy National Security Coordinator, who is the fifth prosecution witness that Attorney-General Department is now hunting for witnesses and evidence.
“I have not given any statement to the police. I gave my statement to the prosecution”, Mr. Duncan Oparehad told the court last week, Thursday, when he appeared before it to testify in the case which had been on trial since 2017.
The normal process was to get the witness statement from him through police investigators, but the Deputy National Security Coordinator, told the court that officers from the Attorney-General’s Department, had on unusually gone to his office at Castle Annex-Accra to collect the witness statement on a police statement form available only to police.
Strangely, the particular police statement was directly collected by the prosecution itself on 24th January, 2019 shortly after one Colonel Michael KwadwoPoku, Director of Operation at National Security had concluded his testimony as the fourth prosecution witness.
It came up in court that Colonel Poku, had engaged in private discussions with his Deputy National Security Coordinator concerning his testimony in court on the case. This private conversation had happened ahead of the prosecution taking the Police statement form to Mr. Opare to write while trial was in session.
Under cross examination by counsel for George Derek Oppong; Lawyer ReindorfTwumasiAnkrah, Mr. Oparehe admitted writing the witness statement in the comfort of his office and handed it over to the prosecution team, adding he was neverinvited by police investigators.
He disclosed that the prosecution had earlier contacted and told him what they needed from him reference to the US$4 million NCA case, which he obliged them.
He could not say why the police investigators did not consider him appropriate or irrelevant to the case hence their inability to invite andinterrogate him for a witness statement.
The Deputy National Security Coordinator was, however, emphatic “I wrote the statement in my office”.
Interestingly, the High Court had early dismissed an objection raised by defence lawyers in the concerning the admittance of the Deputy National Security Coordinator as fifth prosecution witness of the State.
Defence lawyers had objected moves by the prosecution to lead the witness, Mr.Opare, to testify for the state because details captured on the witness’ statement, showed that he would pose a threat to the right of the accused persons to a fair trial if he was allowed to testify.
They argued further that the witness was only in court to clean up the records for the prosecution.
They further submitted that investigators had not interrogated Mr.Opare adding that Mr.Opare’s witness statement was an attempt by state prosecutors to disavow evidence given by previous witnesses, who have already appeared before the court.
Opposing the defence team’s submissions, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs. Yvonne Attakorah-Obuobisa, said the accused persons had been given ample time to prepare their defence as well as afforded the opportunity to cross examine previous witnesses.
She said the witness statement, dated January 25, 2019, had been made available to the defence team and further indicated that disclosures could continue till final judgement.
“We followed up with calls to each lawyer on the new development.
They had enough time to look at statement and conference with accused before today,” MrsAtakorah-Obuobisa told the court.
She said the prosecution had complied with the law and stressed that there had been no surprise evidence as counsel for accused persons had strenuously tried to portray before the court.
The DPP said the prosecution had a strong case and at no point was it seeking to reconstruct its case and accordingly prayed the court to dismiss the defence team’s arguments.
Delivering the court’s ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Eric KyeiBaffour, said if the defence team’s claim of inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case was true, the said inconsistencies would inure to the benefit of the defence team rather.
He said the prosecution exercises a right over the persons it intended to call as witnesses, stressing that, “insofar as a case is not closed by prosecution – the Republic has liberty within laws and rules to call witnesses.
“It will be too much for court to moderate persons the prosecution intends to call to testify,” he continued.
The trial judge held that there was full disclosure from the prosecution but indicated the defence team was not given ample time to prepare for the new witness.
Are trial are Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, William Matthew TettehTevie, Nana Owusu-Ensaw, AlhajiSalifuMimina Osman and George Derek Oppong.