Soldiers Absent, Civilian Suspects Charged With Weapons Possession As Security Experts Laugh
The three suspects in the alleged attempted plot to destabilize the country, have shockingly been charged with conspiracy to manufacture arms and ammunition without lawful authority, not treason or subversion or attempt to overthrow a constitutionally elected government.
Major Rtd Osahene Boakye-Djan Some of the Suspects Arrested
The criminal charges, which also include possession of explosives and firearms without lawful authority and manufacture of firearms without lawful authority, have left many in total shock, since Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, had painted a picture of anarchy situation with the death sentence stirring the suspects in the face.
But the charges, levelled against the three namely; Dr. Frederick Yao Mac-Palm, Ezor Kafui and Bright Allan Debrah Ofosu, means they may spend a maximum of 10 years in jail, if convicted by the court for possession of weapons if proven that indeed, they are the owners of the same weapons as claimed by the government.
Interestingly, their pleas were not taken by the court, but were put on remand.The case was adjourned to the October 9, 2019, following a request by the state prosecutors that the State was still investigating the matter and would want to continue to keep the suspects in custody.
Ahead of Mr krumah’s statement, one Colonel Commey, who is still in uniform; dropped names of the military personnel on a social media platform, which was forwarded to The Herald.
The document was titled: Military Suspects”. The names were: WO2 Esther Saan alias Mama G. Her Unit was given as MAT. The document mentioned that he had been detained in the Guard Room of Signal. L/Cpl Sylvester Akanpewon (Sly) of the 49 Engineering Regiment who was detained at 5BN. Cpl ZakariaWaheed of Jubilee House not detained. Sgt AwarfSule MAT, who is detained in the Guard Room of 48 Regiment. LAC Ibrahim Baba of AFB Tamale not detained. LAC Abubakar Sadique of AFB Tdi who was detained at the RECCE Guard Room, LAC Nii Ankrah of AFB Acc, who was detained at the 1BN, Sgt Nantona Jones, Cpl Nazine of ACTS and L/Cpl Kenkene Solomon of GMP HQ detained in the Military Police Guard Room.
It is not clear, whether these names are among the ones the government mentioned as the arrested military officers, who were part of the attempt to destabilize the government by attacking the Presidency.
The military officers, including a lady widely known in the military, were not in court yesterday, although government had claimed that the meetings between the suspects and serving military personnel with a view to executing a plot to obtain weapons, take over key installations, and secure funding for the purported coup “were closely monitored.”
Yesterday, the defence attorneys, including Victor Adawudu, kicked against the request arguing that the State should have been ready to prosecute the case due to the number of days the accused persons were in custody.
But the magistrate, Rosemond Dodua Agyiri, granted the request of the prosecution and urged prosecution to expedite their investigation.
She also directed the State to allow lawyers and family of the accused persons to have access to them.
A joint security operation last Friday led to the arrest of the three suspects after a raid on the Citadel Hospital, which Dr. Mac-Palm manages.
On Monday, the government revealed that the raid foiled a plot targeted at the presidency “with the ultimate aim of destabilising the country.”
The government, subsequently came out to say that three military personnel, have also been arrested.
The operation followed 15 months of surveillance and gathering of evidence on the activities of the suspects.
The lawyer for the three has also said his clients have denied the allegations against them.
Victor Adawudu, has insisted that his clients knew nothing about the weapons found .
“They have confirmed it [the weapons] was found on the premises but as to who owns it, they don’t know. They don’t have an idea.”
Mr Adawudu, said his clients confirmed that some weapons were found on their premises.But they denied the claims about the buying of chemicals for explosives and the purchases of assault rifles among others.
“Whilst writing the statement, nothing was indicated that when they were arresting them, they found this in their house or they found this at these premises… so it is puzzling or amazing the government comes out with a statement and says this is what we have found.”
“Government prematurely comes to the public to issue a statement when statements had not even been taken [from my clients]. It was after yesterday in the evening that the statement had been taken and I was coming that I heard the press release from the government.”
In the lawyer’s view, the arrests are also a deliberate attempt to divert attention from other issues of national interest.
“For me and my clients, I see it more as a matter to divert attention from the happenings in this country where citizens are complaining,” Mr Adawu said.
The Minister for Information, earlier confirmed that some military personnel, were co-conspirators in the alleged plot.
“The updated brief I have is that some soldiers including at least one officer have also been picked up. They are in custody and are being interrogated in connection with this enterprise and when that interrogation is done, the details of that [will be out] and if some of them are to be charged, it will be done.
According to the government, between June and August 2018, one of the suspects contacted a number of serving military personnel “and talked to them into hatching and executing a plot to obtain weapons, take over key installations, and secure funding for the purpose of taking over the reins of government.”
But security experts, have strongly rejected the Akufo-Addo government’s claim. All the experts, except retired Army Captain and Security Consultant, Budu Koomson, insisted that government had no basis to announce that there was a move of a coup d’état.
The three who differed from Captain Koomson are, a former Colonel in the Ghana Army Col. (Rtd) Festus Aboagye, head of Security Warehouse Limited; Adam Bonaa and a former Spokesperson for the defunct Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), Major Retired Osahene Boakye-Djan.
Mr Nkrumah’s statement sparked a barrage of jokes on various social and mainstream media platforms. Some have even tagged the supposed overthrow of the Akufo-Addo government as the “Kitchen Knife coup d’état”.
This is because, a kitchen knife was among the weapons allegedly retrieved from the suspects, including Ezor Kafui (a local weapon manufacturer from Alavanyo in the Volta region, and Mr Bright Allan Debrah Ofosu, alias “BB or ADC”.
Many see the announcement, as a ploy by the Akufo-Addo government to divert attention of the citizenry from the many ills, especially corruption in the administration.
The verdict in the streets, beer bars and chop bars, is that no one believes there are plans to topple the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
Many have also argued that, Ghanaians have embraced democracy and willing to wait and change governments through the ballot box, rather than the barrel of the gun.
The experts, in separate interviews, have expressed similar views, saying the ammunitions retrieved from the suspects cannot in anyway overthrow the Akufo-Addo government.
Mr Bonaa in particular, stressed that “These guns cannot even hunt [squirrels and rats] in the Dodowa Forest; I’m being very honest with you,” he told Joy FM’s, Daniel Dadzie.
Meanwhile, there have been social media trolls by some Ghanaians, ridiculing and doubting the credibility of the said coup attempt with hash tag #Ghanacoupchallenge, #NPPcoupchallenge.
Users on these platforms, have displayed all kinds of implements as a means through which they think they can overthrow the government. Some of the implements are kitchen knives, spoons, screw driver, pad, machete etc.
The government’s statement released on Monday, said the joint operation led to the retrieval of several arms, explosive devices and ammunition from locations in Accra and Bawaleshie near Dodowa. Other weapons were also retrieved from a heath facility in Accra, called Citadel Hospital at Alajo.
The joint security operation, claimed was to neutralize an elaborate plot targeted at the Presidency, and with the ultimate aim of destabilizing the country. The arrest and seizure, come after fifteen (15) months of surveillance and gathering of evidence on the activities of the prime suspects and others.
It mentioned the following items as having been retrieved: 5 x locally manufactured pistols with magazines fitted on, 1 x foreign pistol (Reg. No. PX154006) with 2 X magazines, 3 x locally manufactured pistol barrels, 3 x smoke grenades, 22 x Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), 9 x 7.62mm NATO AK47 rounds, 2 x AK47 magazines, 1 x long Knife and 63 x 9mm NATO rounds.
But Col. Festus Aboagye, who is also a security analyst is unimpressed, saying he has a strong doubt that the weapons seized by the security agencies, can be used to over the government as they are woefully insufficient.
Speaking to Starr News, Col. (Rtd) Festus Aboagye, was confident that the named weapons and ammunitions, lack the needed firepower to stage a successful coup, especially attacking the Presidency.
“I will beg to differ that the number of weapons that have been listed is not sufficient to destabilize the state. If you want to target the Presidency, if you know the infrastructure of the Presidency, there are layers of security that you need to go through, you might not see all of them. If the idea was to surgically eliminate the President that is a different issue, that you can do with the ammunition and weapons listed there.
But the Presidency itself, is an infrastructure that is strong with security, electronic, physical. Indeed the government needs to explain what it meant by the Presidency, is it Jubilee House, the Office of the President or some persons around the President.”
The Colonel, doubted the capabilities of the men arrested.
Again, speaking on Joy FM on the same issue, Festus Aboagye, noted that considering the alleged evidence gathered during the arrest of the said persons, the government rather acted prematurely in concluding that they could be plotting to subvert the presidency.
Colonel Aboagye, said he finds it very difficult understanding what government meant in its statement.
“I cannot put words in the mouth of government, but the agencies involved are expected to be professional enough to explain exactly what this group was about, but if it fell short of calling it an attempted coup to overthrow government, we cannot purport otherwise that the aim, as indicated in the statement, was to undermine the presidency…I do not exactly understand what targeting the presidency means,” he said.
Breaking the issue down into three areas, the Security Analyst, noted that, the government statement failed to state clearly whether there was some mobilisation of some youth to violently overthrow government, the acquisition of foreign and manufacture of weapons “giving the quantities that are mentioned in the statement, I am not too sure the number of targets that those welding these pieces of ammunition were going to target.”
The former Colonel, wondered whether “these weapons and ammunition will be sufficient for anybody attempting to overthrow the state to actually overthrow the state.”
Colonel Aboagye, said he would have been happier “if the evidence had led to the idea that these weapons were being manufactured and acquired for criminal purposes.“The mention of treason…raises the stakes and I have difficulty actually accepting government explanation that this group intended to target the presidency…”While he had no problem with government’s call for calm in the wake of the development, he stressed that “if indeed this group intended to overthrow the state, I think this government acted prematurely.”
He wished the state, could have gone a step further to allow the group to hatch a plan for the security agencies to have a full grasp of the alleged target of the presidency and deal with it appropriately.
On his part, Adam Bonaa, criticized the government for linking the suspects to a coup detat.
According to him, the government may be justified to link the suspects to terror activities, but to suggest that they were plotting a takeover of government, would rather scare investors.
Speaking on Joy FM, Mr Bonaa, said it was wrong for the government to conclude that the suspects meant to overthrow the Akufo-Addo regime.
He stated further that, it would be difficult for the whole of Ghana’s military to organise a coup, much less the few people caught at Alajo with those weapons.
“These guns cannot even hunt [squirrels and rats] in the Dodowa Forest; I’m being very honest with you,” he told host of the SMS, Daniel Dadzie.
He said, former president Jerry Rawlings, who led the military to overthrow regimes, as well as his associates, can share more information on how a coup is organized, because what the government discovered does not point to a coup at all.
“If for nothing at all, they should have checked with [former president] J.J Rawlings, the ‘father of all coups’…they should [consult] him…Most of those who ended the 1979 coup are still alive, they should ask them.”
He also faulted the government for leading communication on the matter, which he said should have been left for the Police because “it is too small a matter.”
In particular, Adam Bonaa, wants the government to ask the architect of the 1979 and 1981 coups in Ghana, whether it is possible under the present conditions, for a medical doctor to overthrow a government with a kitchen knife and improvised guns. The ensuing controversy, he said, could have been avoided, had the government checked with “the father of all coups” before making the announcement.
“If for nothing at all, they could check with J.J Rawlings, the father of all coups, probably he ended all the coups in Ghana, they should ask him. “Most of these people who led the 1979 coups, fortunately, are still alive, the father of them [J.J Rawlings] is still alive, speak to him if this is how a coup is done,” he said on the Super Morning Show.
Again, a former Spokesperson for the defunct Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), Major Retired Osahene Boakye-Djan, has described the arrest of the suspects as a joke.
He said, the description given by Mr Nkrumah, about how the arrested persons were planning to execute the plan, falls below expectation, hence more clarity should be provided.
Mr Boakye-Djan, told Kwabena Prah Jnr, on Ghana Yensom on Accra FM yesterday that: “What the government is churning out, especially regarding the ammunition retrieved at Citadel Hospital at Alajo is a joke.
“The actions that go into coup making go beyond what the security and the Minister of Information are telling us. They will need to provide further clarity on the matter.”
But Budu Koomson, has warned against comments that seek to downplay the threats of the attempted destabilization of the government, due to the nature and quantity of weapons involved.According to him, there have been periods of instability in the country that were started with far less weaponry and ammunition.
Social media commentary since the story broke, made fun of some of the weapons that were retrieved from the custody of the alleged suspects.
But speaking on Breakfast Daily on Citi TV, Budu Koomson, cautioned the public not to take the attempt to destabilize the country lightly.“This quantity of revisions is not what we used to start the coup. I am telling you that the 31st [December] coup started with one armoured car and less than ten people. The coup attempt started with a few people. Just about seven guns so let us not underestimate what is happening.”
“Once the first round goes off, you cannot guarantee the ability to stop it. I lived through the 15th May attempt. I fought June 4 so I know how difficult it is even for the orchestrators themselves to control how things evolve. So let us give them the benefit of the doubt and see what comes out. I am not prepared to make a judgment,” he said.