President must exercise power to ban treason attempts but…- Lecturer

A law lecturer at the Central University has called on President Nana Akufo-Addo to exercise his powers under 1992 Constitution to ban the Homeland Study Group Foundation which has been accused of treason attempts.

Lawyer Yaw Oppong said the Criminal Code in the Constitution specifically, Section 182A of Act 29, gives him such executive powers to act. 

Section 182A of act 29 states that “Whenever the President is satisfied with respect to any organisation either -(a) that its objects or activities are contrary to the public good; or 

(b) that there is danger of the organisation being used for purposes prejudicial to the public good, he may, if he thinks fit, by executive instrument declare that organisation to be a prohibited organisation.”

The Ho High Court presided over by His Lordship Charles Agbevor Thursday granted a GHC50,000 bail to each of the three members of the Homeland Study Group Foundation, who were arraigned before the court on treason charges 

The court also demanded two sureties to be justified as part of the bail conditions. 

The leader of Homeland Study Group Foundation, Charles Kormi Kudjordji, 78, Martin Asiamah Agbenu, 57, and Divine Donkor, 65 were arrested by the Volta Regional police command on Tuesday. 

A police officer Nana Asomah Hinneh told Joy News Wednesday that the activities of the men who were arrested on March 6 were illegal.

He said one of the men was found distributing T-shirts with an inscription which suggests that on May 9, they are going to declare independence of the Western Togoland with a different flag from that of the republic of Ghana.

“May 9, 2017, is our day,” was the inscription on the back of the T-shirt, the police commander said, explaining that was the reason they were arrested and charged with treason.  

The three were attempting to declare portions of the Northen and Upper West regions together with the entire Volta region as an independent Western Togoland state from Ghana on May 9, 2017. 

The three accused persons who were earlier arraigned before a Ho Magistrate Court have declined a trial, with the Magistrate, Franklin Titus Glover stating his court lacks the competent jurisdiction to hear a treason case hence directed the prosecution to a higher court. 

The case was eventually transferred to the Ho High Court where Prosecution led by State Attorney, Moses Asampoa explained to the court that the actions of the seven accused persons, with four at large, constitute to a conspiracy to commit treason and treason felony. 

He pleaded the court to deny the three accused persons bail. 

A lawyer for the group said wearing a T-shirt with such an inscription does not in any way constitute any act of treason, citing Article 19 clause 17 and 18 of the 1992 Constitution. 

Related: ‘Political elements’ backing Volta Region separatist campaign – Minister

This Article states that; 

“(17) Subject to clause (18) of this article, treason shall consist only-

(a) in levying war against Ghana or assisting any state or person or inciting or conspiring with any person to levy war against Ghana; or

(b) in attempting by force of arms or other violent means to overthrow the organs of government established by or under this Constitution; or

(c) in taking part or being concerned in or inciting or conspiring with any person to make or take part or be concerned in, any such attempt.

(18) An act which aims at procuring by constitutional means an alteration of the law or of the policies of the Government shall not be considered as an act calculated to overthrow the organs of government.”

The lawyer said the police only saw people wearing T-shirts and “we all know the meaning of our day but if the police say that amounts to treason, we can all witness the humiliation they have suffered in court. We will follow them to see what they would do.”

But the law lecturer argued that attempts of treason can take any form and the fact that they have also petitioned some international organisations like the United Nations and others are enough attempts to be charged with treason. 

Mr Oppong called for further investigations by the police to ascertain whether the group is going beyond what is seen on face value and to determine the nature of the unlawful act. 

He believes the possibility of other people being influenced cannot be far-fetched.  

However, he cautioned that their rights to an association as granted in Article 18 of the Constitution must also be respected.