Gregory Afoko to be retried, Asabke sentenced to death in NPP Chairman murder

Gregory Afoko to be retried, Asabke sentenced to death in NPP Chairman murder

Asabke Alangdi, the man accused of conspiring with Gregory Afoko in 2015 to kill Adams Mahama, a former Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has been sentenced to death by hanging by the Accra High Court.

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Alangdi is to be sent to the gallows after a seven-member jury unanimously found him guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

Afoko is, however, to be retried after the jury returned a 4-3 verdict of not guilty on the charges of conspiracy to commit murder and murder.

Per Section 285 (4) of the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30), a verdict of 4-3 by a jury in a murder trial means it is a hung jury and there must be a retrial.

“Since the first accused person [Afoko] has been found not guilty by the majority decision of 4-3, this is a hung jury.

There will be a retrial of the accused person,” Justice Merley Afua Wood, a Justice of the Court of Appeal sitting as an additional High Court judge, ruled yesterday.

The court sentenced Asabke to death on account of Section 24 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), which stipulates the punishment for conspiracy to commit an offence as the same as the substantive offence, in this case, murder.

“Asabke Alangdi, the men and women elected to try you, having found you guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, you are hereby sentenced to death by hanging,” Justice Wood pronounced.

“Strange verdict”

Counsel for Alangdi, Andrew Vortia, vowed to immediately appeal the death sentence of his client, describing the verdict of the jury as “strange” and a travesty of justice.

He wondered how the jury could have found Alangdi guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and then found Afoko not guilty of the same charge of conspiracy. 

“How can a person conspire against himself? In law, conspiracy only holds against two or more people, and each of the accused persons must be guilty. Who did my client conspire with if the first accused person has been found not guilty by the jurors on the same facts?

“There is no way one person can be found guilty of conspiracy and the other party will not be guilty. I am, therefore, going to lodge an instant appeal,” Mr Vortia said.

According to him, the case was a clear testament that the jury system in the country was defective and should be scrapped.

Court’s summary

For over four hours, Justice Wood summarised the evidence adduced before the court and explained to the jury the elements for establishing murder and conspiracy under the laws of the country, vis-à-vis the evidence before the court.

She further explained to the jury the various strengths and weaknesses of the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defence and advised the jury not to put too much weight on material evidence, especially testimonies of witnesses, riddled with unjustifiable inconsistencies.

Since the evidence against the accused persons were mostly circumstantial, Justice Wood also explained to the jury the position of the law on circumstantial evidence.

After explaining the law, Justice Wood directed the jury to go and deliberate and bring a verdict by taking into consideration the totality of the evidence, without any external influence such as media reportage.

She further directed the jury to convict the accused persons if the evidence proved their guilt, but to acquit them if they had any doubt about the case of the prosecution.

“If you are convinced that the A1 [Afoko] conspired with A2 [Alangdi], then declare them guilty, but if there is any doubt, let it be in the interest of the accused persons,” Justice Wood said.

Verdict

After about 30 minutes of deliberations, the jury of four women and three men returned a 4-3 not guilty verdict for Afoko on the two charges.

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When it got to the turn of Alangdi, they returned the same 4-3 verdict on the charge of murder, but decided unanimously that he was guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

When the foreman was asked to confirm that decision, she repeated that, indeed, the jury was unanimous on the decision of the charge of conspiracy with regard to Alangdi.

Murmurs then swelled around the courtroom, with the lawyers especially appearing to be in some chatter.
In that state of confusion, Justice Wood called all prosecution and defence lawyers to her chambers where the meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

She returned to the courtroom to rule that Afoko would be retried, and then sentenced Alangdi to death based on the decision of the jury.

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Alleged murder

According to the facts of the case, on May 14, 2015, Afoko’s brother, Paul Afoko, and Kwabena Agyepong, then National Chairman and General Secretary respectively of the NPP, went to Bolgatanga for a meeting.

Alhaji Mahama, the prosecution claimed, organised some thugs to violently attack the two, scuttling the planned meeting at the Azumsolon Guest House, while accusing them of campaigning against the then NPP flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and also not notifying him (Mahama) of the meeting.

The situation, according to the prosecution, was later brought under control by the police, adding that Afoko, who was then upset, confronted Mahama but was chased away by some thugs.

Another group

The facts also noted that Afoko and one Asabke Alangdi formed another youth group in a bid to protect persons perceived to be against Nana Akufo-Addo.

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It said Afoko and Alangdi held a series of meetings with the youth, and on May 20, 2015, they laid ambush at Mahama’s residence with a substance suspected to be acid.

“Mahama returned home around 11:10 p.m. in his pick-up vehicle, with registration number NR 761-14, and immediately he parked the vehicle in front of his house, Afoko and Asabke went close and signalled him to roll down the glass.

“Mahama identified the suspects to be party members, and rolled down the glass to talk to them. Suddenly, the suspects poured the substance, suspected to be acid, on his head, face and other parts of his body and fled on a motorbike.

“Mahama started screaming for help, and his wife, Hajia Adams, went to his aid and managed to bring him out of the vehicle,” the prosecution said.

Writer’s email: [email protected] 

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