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My story secured the release of ‘abolo’ seller from jail

BY: Vance Azu
The writer

As I stated earlier in some of my epistles, during my days as a reporter right up till I was moved from The Mirror in March 2014, I had been a hardworking staff, who was always on the field searching for stories for the paper.

I managed to build an extensive network of friends and sources, who always kept me informed about unfolding events, especially in their communities, establishments and institutions, particularly the scandals.

I can conveniently say that since 1991, I have filed stories which eventually made tremendous impact on the lives of individuals, communities and the society at large.

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing some of these stories with readers, particularly, those that have changed the course of the country’s history and positively influenced decisions, both at the local and national levels.

One of such issues that keep coming to mind anytime matters about the courts and the judiciary cropped up in our national discourse was a story I filed about an ‘abolo’ seller at Kpong, who suffered grave injustice.

This issue always hits me hard because from the experience I had gathered, I can conveniently say that many other people had, in different ways, faced similar unjust treatment because nobody told their stories, when they had a brush with the law.

‘Abolo’ seller

Dear reader, this 22-year-old ‘abolo’ seller, Theresa Azigi, who plied her trade at Kpong in the Lower Manya Krobo Municipality of the Eastern Region (my home region), is the subject of what I intend sharing with you today.

In my quest for big stories, I travelled a lot during weekends, especially if I had a hint that a story had ‘broken’ somewhere.

I only had to inform my superiors and then set off to my destination. I remember those days I visited my ‘Holy Village’ almost every weekend.

There were lots of interesting stories in the Krobo community, and as a journalist, it was difficult for me to overlook such stories.

It was during one of such visits, when I was fraternising with friends that I got the hint that there was an interesting, but sad story at the Odumase-Krobo Circuit Court about an ‘abolo’ seller who had been jailed 10 years for causing illegal abortion.

I expressed interest in the story. I engaged the court clerk who asked me to come to the court on Monday to meet the registrar.

Usually, when I visited home, I left on Sunday afternoon, but as a result of this development, I had to stay and leave on Monday, in order to see the court registrar the following day.

We had this established relationship, so I just had to inform him that I wanted that information on the abolo seller.

The registrar gave me the docket of the case and I extracted the information that I needed,  after which I set off for Accra.

I filed the story, and as usual, it made the front page with the headline ‘ Abolo seller jailed 10 years for causing illegal abortion’.

The paper came out on a Saturday and from the feedback I received from Kpong and its adjoining communities, it was the talk of the town.

Story

The gist of the story was that the ‘abolo’ seller, Theresa Azigi, terminated an unwanted pregnancy and kept the foetus in a polythene bag in the bathroom of the compound house, in which she lived.

 After some days, the foul smell that emanated from the polythene bag was unbearable, and all attempts by the other tenants to impress upon her to dispose of the foetus properly fell on deaf ears.

Unfortunately for her, the health inspectors came round to check the sanitary condition in the community.

It was during that inspection that they discovered the source of the foul smell. After some enquiries, Theresa was arrested and sent to the police station, after which she was processed for court. The presiding circuit court judge sentenced her to 10 years on her own plea of guilty.

After the story appeared in The Mirror on Saturday, two young law students from the Ghana School of Law, James Odartey Mills and Benjamin Kpakpo Sackar contended that the trial judge, Mr S.K.B. Alomatu erred in law for the sentencing of 10 years imprisonment, when the maximum term was five years.

The Mirror carried that story with a banner headline Judge was wrong. Immediately, this report came out, Nana Oye Lithur, now Nana Oye Bampoe-Addo, took over the case, mobilised her associates and went to court to get the trial annulled.

After about three weeks in the Koforidua High Court, the sentence was nullified, and the abolo seller was freed after serving almost three months in prison.

After the dust had settled, Nana Oye, with some of the team members that fought for the freedom of the abolo seller came to The Mirror to express their gratitude to my Editor, the late Mrs Margaret Safo, and the rest of The Mirror team.

Interestingly, two weeks after, Theresa Azigi went back to her trade.

Just after that, I travelled to the United States of America on April 28, 2004 for my vaccation.

I returned in August that same year, visited Kpong to check on Theresa and was overwhelmed by the huge crowd of abolo sellers that mobbed me for securing the release of their friend.

Returning to Accra, I came with a bus load of abolo, shrimps and one-man-thousand.

The writer is the Night Editor of the Daily Graphic

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