And Prosecutor Dodges Information Minister’s Blame
the Government, has come under a barrage of criticism over the discharge and acquittals of the pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) militia group, Delta Force, who were standing trial for storming a Kumasi court, threatening the presiding judge and freeing some 13 colleagues, who were going on remand over a sensational assault on the Ashanti Regional national security boss.
Lawyers body; the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), the Media Foundation for West Africa, the Head of the Department of Research at the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) and other personalities, have widely condemned the decision by the Attorney-General’s Department to drop charges against 8 Delta Force members saying it is an endorsement of lawlessness.
The government is meanwhile, caught in a web of blame game pointing accusing figures at the Kumasi-based Principal State Attorney in the case, Marie-louise Adomako Simmons, a rep of Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo in the Ashanti Region and the Police Prosecutor in the case, ACP Okyere Darko, who has violently refused to be an accessory to the blame.
They were charged with causing disturbances in court, resisting arrest and rescuing persons in lawful custody, they were released by the court presided by her Honour, Patricia Amponsah, for want of evidence after ACP Darko, filed a nolle prosequi to discontinue the case.
GBA Vice President, Tony Forson, expressed shock at the release and disclosed that, the Association was studying the judge’s ruling to understand what led to the decision, but added that the GBA was still committed to an earlier statement that the eight party thugs, should be prosecuted for disrupting justice.
“We don’t really know what the truth is..[but] when a lawyer is in court, the brief he has is what he use and not the information in the media,” Mr. Forson told on Joy FM.
The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah, described the “freedom” offered the court attackers as in insulting, adding the decision showed that government was taking Ghanaians for fools by trying to tell “kwaku ananse stories” about why the court raiders were freed.
Security expert, Dr. Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, noted that the discharge of the eight NPP Delta Force members was a justification of impunity.
Marie-louise Adomako Simmons, in her reply to a letter from the prosecutor for her legal opinion on the case, said the charges against the suspects must be dropped because there was insufficient evidence against them.
The court, presided over by Patricia Amponsah, therefore discharged the accused and dismissed the case.
But according to Mr. Braimah, the development smacks of blatant disregard for the Rule of Law.
In a Facebook post, he said, the development had the semblance of an instance during the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government where 3 persons who openly campaigned for the government, were granted presidential pardon after they were duly convicted of offenses, including threatening the life of a Supreme Court judges. “Oh, so after all, there is no difference between NPP and NDC.
I am exceedingly disappointed. How can people storm a court to free suspects on trial and a government frees them just because they are members of the ruling party.”
“What is even more shameful is the efforts by the government to take Ghanaians for fools by giving us kwaku ananse stories on why the party thugs have been freed. Let someone tell them we are not fools.
This is not only disgusting but embarrassing. I have been hoping the president is truly committed to rule of law,” he said in a Facebook post.
The Head of the Department of Research at KAIPT, Dr. Emmanuel Kwesi Aning noted that “A culture of impunity is created when people are not dealt with accordingly because of political backing,” he stated on Morning Starr, radio station in Accra, yesterday, adding “looking at the Delta Force eight case and how things are going, it is quite disturbing.”
According to Dr. Aning, there is a lack of sensitivity in using the necessary techniques in gathering evidence.
But the Minister of Information, Mustapha Hamid, the Attorney General, are not aware of the decision by the prosecutor to discontinue the case.
As a result, the Attorney General’s department “is investigating circumstances under which a principal State Attorney in Kumasi decided without recourse to advice from higher authority on a matter of high public interest of this nature to drop charges against persons arrested in connection with disturbances in a Kumasi Magistrate’s court in April this year,” said Mr. Hamid in a statement Wednesday.
He added, “Preliminary investigations suggest that the decision was taken without recourse even to the Director of Public Prosecution and may amount to a breach of internal procedures on matters of this nature.”
However, ACP Okyere Darko, hit back at the Information Minister’s claim that the Attorney General was unaware of the circumstances leading to their discharge by the Kumasi Circuit Court Wednesday. He accused the Information Minister of lying.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Starr News’ Isaac Bediako, he debunked the claim by Mr. Hamid, explaining that he does not believe the AG is unaware of the decision to drop the case for lack of evidence by her agents in the Ashanti region.
According to him, the Ministry of Information, has the right to as part of the government’s machinery to claim the AG was not aware in the wake of the criticisms the release of the eight courted “but,” he said “we will wait for the Attorney General herself to come out because the law is that the chief State Attorney in the Ashanti region is a representative of the Attorney General in Accra.
And the Chief State Attorney takes decisions on behalf of the Attorney General in Accra and that decision is binding on the Attorney General.
“So nobody can sit anywhere and take a decision that they are going to conduct any fresh investigations. As far as we are concerned this is conclusive and the advice has come. If there is any such thing…the Attorney General should come out and say that she has not authorized it.
“But she authorized it. What I am saying is that by law she has authorized it because…at the end of the day the person who advised is her representatives and therefore she is bound by that decision.
So if anybody says it is the contrary, we presumed that it is a regular act. Let them bring it and we will see what will happen,” he added.
The eight members of NPP-linked militia group, were being tried after they disrupted court proceeding of 13 of their members on April 6, 2017.
The 13 were part of 21 men arrested by the police after they attacked the newly appointed Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator, George Agyei. The men had said Mr Agyei did not deserve the position because he played no role in the struggle to bring the NPP into power.
They wanted President Akufo-Addo to appoint their leader who was instrumental in the NPP’s 2016 elections campaign.
Out of the 21 men who were rounded up by the police and arraigned, only 13 showed up. This compelled the presiding judge, Mary M.E. Nsenkyire, to direct the 13 men to be kept in custody to reappear on April 20.
Dissatisfied with the judge’s decision, the well-built men numbering 50 stormed the court and resisted an order to hold 13 of their members in prison custody.
They freed their colleagues. Eight of them were charged with disturbing a court session, for resisting arrest, and freeing the 13 persons who were in lawful custody.
At a court hearing in Kumasi Wednesday, the case against the eight was dismissed due to the absence of evidence.
The Minority has asked President Akufo-Addo to demonstrate leadership by calling for the re-arrest and prosecution of the eight men without fail.
“We demand therefore that this cancerous exercise of discretion be reversed immediately and the accused re-arraigned before court without any further hesitation,” Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu said at a news conference in Accra.