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Saturday, May 21, 2022

AG Drops Charges


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Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Martin Amidu

Lawyers for the three suspects, who had a brush with operatives of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) on Thursday, have sued the BNI and its director, Yaw Donkor, for contempt, as the Attorney-General’s department drops charges against the suspects.

The suspects, Daniel Djabaah, Eric Owusu Manu and Frank Bruno Pappoe were hauled before the Osu Magistrate court for narcotic-related offences.

However, the deputy Attorney-General, Ebo Barton-Odro, said government was discontinuing the case for now by filing a nolle prosequi at the same court.

“It is not over, but our reputation is at stake,” he told an Accra radio station yesterday.

It is not clear whether Mr. Donkor, who is facing another contempt charge, will attend court since he has been evading court in a similar matter at an Accra Human Rights court.

Operatives of the BNI stormed the precincts of the Osu Magistrate court in an attempt to re-arrest the three suspects standing trial for narcotic-related offences after Ellen Anokye, the magistrate, granted them bail in the sum of GH¢10,000 each with a surety.

The suspects were last week granted GH¢10,000 bail each with a surety by the court but could not fulfill the bail conditions until Thursday.

The Magistrate prevented the BNI operatives from carrying out their intentions until Chief Justice Georgina Wood advised her to release the suspects into the custody of the police led by the Accra Regional Police Commander, DCOP Rose Bio Atinga and a team of policemen called in to maintain law and order, following the brouhaha.

The suspects were kept in police custody overnight at the Accra Central Police Station and sources said they were still there as at press time yesterday.

Barely 24 hours after the fiasco, lawyers for the suspects brought contempt charges against the BNI for disregarding the court’s order.

The BNI boss is expected to appear in court anytime soon to answer charges in that regard.

From left: Rose Bio Atinga, Magistrate Ellen Anokye and Juliet Addo-Yobo inspecting the damaged car outside the court premises after the drama

Speaking on Joy FM yesterday, lawyer for the suspects, Evans Anaba said, “We are citing them (BNI) for contempt”, stressing that technically, his clients were still on bail though they were still being held in custody at the regional police command.

But ACP Rose Bio Atinga declined to speak when contacted last night.

However, Accra-based legal practitioner and criminal law lecturer at the University of Ghana, William Kissi Agyebeng, said the BNI or any arresting authority could be undermining the authority of the court if it went ahead to re-arrest a suspect on the same offence, after that suspect had been granted bail by the court.

“If you think the court was wrong in granting bail, you do not take the law into your own hands. You undermine the court’s authority. If you think the court made a mistake in law by granting bail, you take steps within the bounds of the law to have that decision set aside,” he said.

He noted, “If you, an authority, decide the court is wrong and so you are going to take the law into your own hands by teaching the court the law, that is unacceptable.”

He therefore asked the BNI or the police to proceed to a higher court for the bail approval to be set aside if they had issues with the lower court’s decision.

The suspects are represented by Julie Ado-Yobo for Frank Bruno Pappoe, while lawyer Robertson Pacha represented Eric Owusu Manu and Daniel Jabaah.

Speaking to Citi Fm, Julie Ado-Yobo expressed disgust with the actions of the BNI operatives who stormed the court premises to re-arrest the suspects after they had been granted bail by the court.

According to her, the team of defense counsel could not understand why the BNI attempted to prevent the movement of suspects who were freed by a competent court of jurisdiction.

“We the lawyers are going to court for contempt at the Human Rights Court because what happened outside here is an infringement of their fundamental human right”.

A scuffle ensued and it degenerated as the BNI tried to re-arrest the suspects when the judge who was sitting on other cases rushed out to order them to halt the arrests in the court premises.

The BNI then allegedly seized the mobile phone of a driver of a lawyer who was trying to film the incident and in the process, the phone was smashed while a BMW saloon car belonging to one of the defense counsel was also damaged.

As the suspects retreated to the court premises, the BNI pursued them and in the process, one of the BNI drivers was said to have been detained on the orders of the judge.

As at press time yesterday, DAILY GUIDE was not sure whether or not the bailed suspects had been released from custody.

By Charles Takyi-Boadu

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