The High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Mary Maame Ekue Yanzuh has fixed November 11, 2022 to rule on two applications filed by Oliver Barker-Vormawor against the treason felony charges preferred against him by the State.
The #FixTheCountry movement lead convener is challenging the appropriateness of the two charges he has been slapped with and committed to standing trial for.
Oliver Barker-Vormawor through his lawyers led by Justice Srem-Sai per the first application wants the charges and the Bill of Indictment (BI) struck out while the second application, a Certiorari, is asking for the committal proceedings conducted by the Ashaiman District Court on August 1, 2022, to be struck out.
Duplicity, multiplicity rules
Moving the application for the charges and the BI to be struck out, counsel Justice Srem-Sai argued that, the nature of the particulars of offense stated sins against the rules of duplicity and multiplicity.
Making a case for duplicity, counsel said, the indictment must not be doubled as provided for under Act 30 and that, as it stands, they are at a loss, whether the applicant is standing trial for High Treason or endeavoring to overthrow the government.
Counsel further argued that, the first count contains more than one offense and the way his client prepares to defend himself in the trial of treason felony would be different from high treason.
Lawyer Srem-Sai also contended that the applicant needs to be given an opportunity to defend himself but with the bifurcated offense, he would not be in the position to do so.
While describing the charge as “bad in law and double Jeopardy,” counsel said the duplicitous charge sheet and lack of clarity make it impossible for the applicant to mount a proper defense.
He said, the court must be aware of the exact charges the applicant is being tried on.
On the issue of multiplicity, counsel argued that the same sets of facts should not be split into two as per the instance case, except the said post happened on Facebook and Twitter pages with the same contents.
He, therefore, urged the court to strike out the charges for the proper thing to be done for the trial to start.
Hilda Craig, a Senior State Attorney for the prosecution, opposed the request and said the prosecution is at a loss what the applicant meant by duplicity and multiplicity rules. She argued that it is their case that the accused has made publication on his Facebook and Twitter pages seeking to overthrow the government.
She said, the content of what was contained in his Facebook and Twitter pages cannot be lumped together.
Hilda Craig argued that the two are separate offenses which amount to advocating for overthrow of the government.
She said the prosecution had elected to put the court element of the charges on Facebook and that of Twitter separately.
The Senior State Attorney contended that the two posts constituted different transactions and if they put all together as being said by the applicant, it would rather be duplicitous.
She told the court that from the District Court up to the High Court, the applicant has been given every opportunity to defend himself.
The Senior State Attorney however wondered where the “double jeopardy” was coming from.
She argued that the applicant should rather be happy if what the prosecution had done is wrong.
She described the application as frivolous and a waste of the court’s time and prayed for the request not to be granted.
According to EIB Network’s Legal Affairs Correspondent Murtala Inusah, the court said, it would rely on the processes filed in respect of the Certiorari challenging the committal proceedings
Bill of Indictment
On May 30, the state through the Director of Public Prosecutions Mrs. Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa filed the Bill of Indictment which is now being challenged by #FixTheCountry convener. His lawyers have argued that the nature of the charges preferred sin against the rules of multiplicity and duplicity.
According to the summary of evidence, the state indicates that it intends to call three witnesses at trial.
They are Andrew Okyere, No 55341 D/CONST Dunstan Guba, and D/CPL Mark Owusu.
The state will also be tendering some eight exhibits to support their case at the trial.
They are the investigation cautioned statement of the accused (Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor) dated 11 February 2022, Charged statement of the accused dated 11 February 2022 and Investigation cautioned statement of the accused dated 16 February 2022.
The remaining exhibits are the charge statement of the accused dated 1 April 2022, Facebook and Twitter posts of the accused person from February 2021 to February 2022, Facebook post of the accused person on 30 April 2022, Intelligence report from the Cybercrime unit, and Intelligence report from National Security.
Oliver Barker-Vormawor was arrested after he was said to have made a series of Facebook posts alleged to have been geared towards overthrow of the government.