The 11 people who allegedly broke into the offices of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in a dawn raid have been granted bail by the Accra Circuit Court.
The 11, including a woman, pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful entry, unlawful purpose on private premises and causing unlawful damage to the tune of GH¢28,000.
They were each granted a GH¢10,000 bail, with two sureties.
The court, presided over by Ms Abena Oppong Adjin Dokua, also bonded the alleged raiders to be of good behaviour.
The prosecution, led by DSP Abraham Annor, had prayed the court to remand the accused persons to enable the police to continue with their investigations.
But lawyers for the accused persons opposed the request, insisting that there was no strong evidence against their clients.
Dressed mostly in T-shirts and jeans and full of mixed emotions — smiles and frowns — the accused persons entered the courtroom in handcuffs, accompanied by their lawyers and the police.
With a horde of cameras fixed on them, some of the accused persons covered their faces, ostensibly to prevent their pictures being taken, while others smiled at the cameras.
Facts in court
The facts of the case, as presented by DSP Annor, are that about 2.30 a.m. on November 23, 2015, the police acted on information that some soldiers had invaded the national headquarters of the NPP at Asylum Down in Accra and were causing damage to property there.
He said the police immediately rushed to the scene and one of the accused persons, Bismark Osei Danso, a retired soldier, together with 10 others in red T-shirts with the inscription “United Patriot”, were arrested.
They were all sent to the Accra Regional Police Command and later to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service in Accra for investigations.
“During investigations, and in their respective caution statements, Danso informed the police that he had mobilised eight retired officers, all living at Kakasunaka, near Michel Camp, provided them with military uniforms and took them to the NPP headquarters,” he said.
According to DSP Annor, Danso explained that they (the retired soldiers) had information that the NPP security at the headquarters, known as the Invincible Forces, had weapons on them and needed to disarm them before they organised a peace meeting between the executive of the NPP and the suspended Chairman of the party, Mr Paul Afoko, at the party headquarters.
In addition, he mobilised 480 youth supporters from all the 10 regions to go to the party headquarters to support the ex-soldiers, since they would organise a press conference after the meeting.
“However, when the retired soldiers entered the party headquarters, they took the security men hostage and locked them up in the security room.
“The eight retired soldiers entered the premises without anybody at the headquarters accompanying them,” DSP Annor said.
The retired soldiers, he stated, later brought out a fertiliser sack containing three submachine guns (SMG) loaded with 36 live ammunition and three machetes and informed the caretakers and the security man present that they had found weapons near the generating set behind the building.
He said the soldiers then stated that the security man, Moro Sulemana, was the custodian of the weapons, since he was a member of the Invincible Forces, operating at the NPP Headquarters.
He said the security man, however, denied ownership of the weapons found.
DSP Annor said investigations into the matter would continue.
The 11 people were arrested last Monday.
The perpetrators of the act — eight of whom are alleged to be ex-military men — reportedly broke into the office after they had entered the building and locked up two caretakers and a party security guard on duty.
News of the raid attracted many NPP supporters to the party headquarters, but their attempt to take over the place from the police was unsuccessful, as armed policemen and armoured vehicles sealed off spaces about 50 metres each on either side of the road in front of the headquarters.
As a form of compromise, the police allowed a party official to screen party members and people who had to enter the premises while the police were in the building conducting forensic investigations.
The party, on the same day, organised a press conference addressed by its Communications Director, Nana Akomea, to state their position on the matter.
After walking the media through the events of the day, he said the incident was an attack on democracy in the country, especially when military vehicles and police escort vehicles were involved, according to the party security man’s account.
The Acting Chairman of the NPP, Mr Freddy Blay, had said the perpetrators were acting on the orders of an individual or some powerful persons.
He, however, stopped short of mentioning names.
Many NPP supporters who gathered at the scene, including a Deputy Communications Director, Mr Adomako Baafi, accused the government of having a hand in the chaos at the party headquarters.
“President Mahama wants to use this as a diversionary tactic to take people’s attention from the thousands of his party members who rejected him in the presidential primary. The NPP is together, bolder and ready for Election 2016. We won’t be intimidated,” he said.
The NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma West, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, however, declined to be drawn into the speculations.
“We can speculate endlessly but it is unprofitable. All I can say is that we will wait for the police to conduct professional investigations and come out with results we all can live with,” she said.
Others too pointed to Mr Afoko’s direction as the source of the latest drama at the party headquarters.
Afoko condemns act
However, in a terse statement, Mr Afoko condemned the incident and described it “as dents on the party’s image”.
“Reports of weapons having been found at the party headquarters are even more worrying. These developments are distasteful, especially at a time Mr Afoko is challenging the constitutional breaches some party members have persistently engaged in,” it said.
It urged the security agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident and get to the bottom of the matter.