The family of Gregory Afoko, one of the suspects standing trial for the murder of the Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Alhaji Adams Mahama, believes there are some unseen hands manipulating the judicial system to unfairly punish Gregory Afoko by keeping him in detention without a bail.
According to the family, its suspicion was confirmed when the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah at a press conference announced that government was going to apply to the Chief Justice to appoint a dedicated Judge for Gregory’s retrial.
The family, at a press conference in Accra Tuesday questioned whether the Judge who had kept Gregory in detention for four years and tried him was not dedicated?
A Spokesperson of the family, Robert Atong Asekabta, said “By this we believe that the government is trying to manipulate the judiciary to arrive at a pre-determined outcome.”
According to him, the decision by the government to re-arrest the suspect after it filed a nolle prosequai' to discontinue the case at a very late stage of the case “is to torture, intimidate and obtain involuntary confessions from Gregory and Asabke Alangdi.”
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Atong Asekabta said Gregory has been denied access to his lawyers and any member of his family, stressing that “We do not know how our son is fed or what is put into whatever he is eating. We think that he is being emotionally, psychologically and physically tortured.”
He added “We think that he is being emotionally, psychologically and physically tortured.”
Below is the statement
STATEMENT DELIVERED BY THE AYIETA FAMILY OF SANDEMA AT A PRESS CONFERENCE HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTRE, ACCRA, ON TUESDAY FEBRUARY 19, 2019
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the media. Thank you very much for honouring our invitation at short notice. The Ayieta Family of Sandema, to which Gregory Afoko belongs, is very much appreciative of your presence this morning.
Let me remind all of us gathered here, and Ghanaians in general, that our son, Gregory Afoko, since his arrest at the dawn of 21st May 2015 has been in detention under very trying conditions but has co-operated fully with the law enforcement agencies to ensure that justice is done in the matter in which he has been falsely accused of, and charged with the murder of the late Adams Mahama, a former Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). He has since been standing trial at the High Court, Accra.
Our son has, since his arrest and subsequent prosecution, consistently been denied bail even when he was clearly sick and would require urgent medical attention. He has been in detention with a swollen arm for some time now and we hope and pray that what is afflicting him is not so serious to irreversibly affect his health.
As you have been reading from the media, especially social media, on the reports emanating from the court on his trial, he was taken through the Committal Proceedings at the District Court, Accra which did commit him for trial at the High Court even though he has maintained his innocence since his arrest.
He went through the deliberate delays, frustrations of adjournments and the refusal to be granted bail in the hope that the matter would proceed to its logical conclusion for judgment to be pronounced so that he would know his fate.
The prosecution called as many as fourteen (14) witnesses, most of them from Bolgatanga, to testify against our son and closed its case. Gregory also opened his defence and closed his case and was awaiting the verdict of the court.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, members of the family were therefore shocked to read and hear from the media that, with some few days to judgment, the Attorney-General who was prosecuting our son had filed a 'nolle prosequai', which the lawyers explained to us to mean that the Attorney-General had decided to discontinue with the trial even at that very late stage! Gregory was not going to know his fate after a full, tortuous and lengthy four-year detention and trial.
The Attorney-General's reason, we were told by the Minister for Information, was that they had arrested another suspect in the case and so the Attorney-General wanted to try the two together.
The following questions ran through our minds as we discussed amongst ourselves and also sought explanations and clarifications from lawyers on the issue:
- Was it not possible legally, to try the new suspect alone as was done to Gregory?
- Where was the fair trial in this after Gregory had been taken through all the pains of four years of detention, and to be put through a retrial?
- Had something gone wrong with his trial?
- Did the Attorney-General anticipate an acquittal and discharge of Gregory and was not happy with it?
- Is it mandatory for the two accused persons to be tried together?
These and many other questions flooded our minds and we were left very disappointed and down-hearted. We suspected that some unseen hands were manipulating the judicial system to unfairly punish Gregory by keeping him in continuous detention for more years.
Our suspicion was confirmed when the Minister for Information announced in his press briefing on the matter that government was going to apply to the Chief Justice to appoint a DEDICATED Judge for the retrial of Gregory! So, the judge who had kept Gregory in detention for four (4) years and tried him was not dedicated?
By this we believe that the government is trying to manipulate the judiciary to arrive at a pre-determined outcome.
This, we believe, is weaponization of the judiciary.
With this turn of events, we are asking whether there is the need at all for any further investigation necessitating the re-arrest of Gregory. Why should Gregory suffer or for that matter any citizen of Ghana, as a result of the incompetence of the Attorney General? If they had not done any proper investigation, why was Gregory rushed to court?
We believe that the real reason for the re-arrest is to torture, intimidate and obtain involuntary confessions from Gregory and Asabke Alangdi.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, as you might have heard, we have instructed the lawyers of Gregory to use all the legal means available to challenge the fairness of the filing of the nolle prosequi at the appropriate court. I am happy to inform you that the lawyers have informed us that some processes have been initiated at the Supreme Court and other courts. I cannot speak to those issues but my information is what I have told you.
The sad aspect of this unfortunate event which unfolded is that even before the High Court that remanded Gregory into prison custody could formally discharge him before any re-arrest could be made, the state security, in a show of force, removed Gregory from the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons in his boxer shorts and dumped him in the Bureau for National Investigations (BNI) cells.
The state security did not, and has still not, allowed him access to his lawyers and/or any member of his family. We do not know how our son is fed or what is put into whatever he is eating. We think that he is being emotionally, psychologically and physically tortured.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, whilst the lawyers are at it, we have taken a decision to bring this inhumane treatment meted out to our son to the attention of Ghanaian and international human rights organisations and associations to also intervene because we believe that his arrest, continuous detention, denial of bail and re-trial has political undertones.
Finally, we are appealing to the judiciary to reject the shameful invitation by the executive to the Chief Justice to appoint the so-called DEDICATED judge that the Minister for Information publicly stated. The Executive arm of government cannot and must not be the prosecutor and the judge at the same time.
Thank you once again for your presence and your attention.
ROBERT ATONG ASEKABTA
Spokesperson, Ayieta Family of Sandema