Major Maxwell Mahama
Major Maxwell Mahama

2024 Judgment year for criminal cases

Arguably, 2024 can simply be described as a year of judgments, particularly criminal cases before the courts. 

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Already, the Accra High Court on January 23 this year delivered judgment in the case in which nine persons had been accused of plotting to overthrow the government in 2019.

In that case, six persons including three soldiers were sentenced to death by hanging for high treason by the Accra High Court for plotting to overthrow the government in 2019.

Donya Kafui, aka Ezor (a blacksmith) and Bright Alan Debrah Ofosu, a fleet manager, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit high treason and high treason, while Johannes Zikpi, a civilian employee of the Ghana Armed Forces was found guilty of conspiracy to commit high treason.

The three soldiers — Warrant Officer II Esther Saan Dekuwine, Lance Corporal Ali Solomon and Corporal Sylvester Akanpewon — were found guilty of conspiracy to commit high treason.

In a unanimous decision, the three-member panel of the High Court held that the six convicts conspired to destabilise the country and take over the government, while two of them- Kafui and Debrah-Ofosu- took actual steps to operationalise the plot by manufacturing weapons and improvised explosives devices (IEDs).

The court was presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, with Justices Hafisata Amaleboba and Stephen Oppong – all Justices of the Court of Appeal sitting as additional High Court judges.

Coup plotters sentenced

However, two senior security officers and another soldier accused of being part of the plot were acquitted and discharged by the three-member panel of the High Court.

Colonel Samuel Kodzo Gameli and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dr Benjamin Agordzo were found not guilty of abetment to high treason, while Corporal Seidu Abubakar was also found not guilty of conspiracy to commit high treason and treason.

It was the considered view of the court that the prosecution failed to establish that the three security officers aided or played any role in the conspiracy and actual plot to overthrow the government.

Meanwhile, the man accused of being the mastermind of the plot, Dr Frederick Mac-Palm, passed on in March last year.

His trial records were subsequently expunged. 

Death sentence

Reading the sentence, Justice Asare-Botwe ordered the convicts to be hanged in a prison designated for the carrying out of the death sentence.

“The sentence of the court is that you be taken from hence to a prison designated by the Republic and that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead and that your body be afterwards buried at such a place as the President may order.

“May God have mercy on your soul,” the court held.

Maj. Mahama murder trial ends

On Monday, January 29, this year, a seven-member jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty against a former assembly member and 11 others at the High Court in Accra in the murder trial of Maj. Mahama.

The former Assembly Member at Denkyira Obuasi in the Central Region, William Baah, was found guilty on the charge of abetment of murder, while Bernard Asamoah, Kofi Nyame, Akwasi Baah, Kwame Tuffuor, Joseph Appiah Kubi, Michael Anim, Akwesi Asante, Charles Quaining, Emmanuel Baidoo, John Boasie and Kwadwo Animah were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

The jury also returned a guilty verdict on the charge of murder against Asamoah, Nyame, Baah, Tuffuor, Kubi, Anim, Asante and Quaining.

Two others — Bismark Donkor and Bismarck Abanga — who stood trial alongside the 12, were, however, acquitted and discharged after the jury returned a verdict of not guilty to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. 

All 12 were sentenced to life imprisonment due to the amendment to the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), which changed the punishment for murder from death to life imprisonment.

The verdict came after five years of trial at the Criminal Jurisdiction of the High Court presided over by Justice Mariama Owusu, a Justice of the Supreme Court sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge.

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Kasoa boys

Again, the case in which two teenagers have been accused of the murder of an 11-year-old boy at Kasoa for money ritual is also nearing completion with judgment expected to be delivered this year.

A 15-year-old accused has been charged alongside an 18-year-old for the murder of the 11-year-old boy.

The two have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and murder and are currently standing trial at the court presided over by Justice Lydia Osei Marfo with a seven-member jury. 

Ato Forson

Additionally, the case in which a former Deputy Minister of Finance and now the Minority Leader in Parliament, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson and two others are standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state in a deal to purchase 200 ambulances for Ghana between 2014 and 2016, is also nearing completion.

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Dr Forson has been charged alongside a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, Dr Sylvester Anamena and Richard Jakpa, a businessman.

They have, however, pleaded not guilty to five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to wilfully cause financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property.

Meanwhile, the court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe released Dr Anemana’s passport to him in January to be able to receive medical treatment outside the country.

Dr Anemana has been seriously ill since the trial started in 2022.

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The businessman, the third accused person has opened his defence.  

NAM 1 trial

After more than 36 appearances without a trial over three years and 11 months by embattled Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Menzgold Ghana Company Limited, Nana Appiah Mensah, popularly known as NAM 1 at the Circuit Court, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice filed 39 counts of fresh criminal charges at the High Court against the accused.

In the new charge sheet filed at the High Court in Accra, NAM 1, together with the Menzgold Ghana Company Limited (MGCL) and the Brew Marketing Consult Ghana Limited, was charged with a string of charges including selling gold without a licence, operating deposit-taking institution without a licence, inducement to invest and defrauding by false pretence, fraudulent breach of trust and money laundering.

According to the A-G’s facts, the accused persons, under false pretences, took over GH¢1.68 billion from their customers and have since not recovered the money.

But subsequently, the Attorney-General substituted the charge sheet which reduced the amount in question to GH¢340,835,650 from GH¢1.68 billion.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

Killers of J.B Danquah-Adu

The trial of the persons accused of the murder of a former Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North, J. B. Danquah-Adu is also expected to end this year.

Mr Danquah-Adu was murdered at his residence at Shiashie in Accra on February 9, 2016.

Daniel Asiedu and Vincent Bosso have been charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, while Asiedu has further been charged separately of murder.

The two have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

It is the case of the prosecution that Asiedu and Bosso planned to go on a robbery spree, but Bosso changed his mind and went home.

The prosecution said Asiedu went to Shiashie to lay ambush at the MP’s house to rob him.

According to the prosecution, in the course of searching for the items to steal, Asiedu made some noise, which woke up the MP.

The prosecution said a struggle ensued between the two, leading to Asiedu stabbing the MP in the neck and chest, killing him in the process.

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