Friday, July 9, 2010

'I LIED TO SAVE MY SKIN' • Exopa CEO tells court

Friday, July 9,2010 (Lead Story)

THE Chief Executive of Exopa Modelling Agency, Ibrahim Sima, yesterday told the Accra Fast Track High Court that he admitted ownership of three tubers of yam containing cocaine because he did not want to suffer abuse from security officials who arrested him.
He said he had no choice but to also admit that he used a bread knife in his house to cut open the yams and stuff them with cocaine because the security officials who arrested him had threatened to "use minimum force" if he did not explain why there was cocaine in his luggage.
"I was answering yes, yes to all their questions just to get away from them. I decided to tell them some story in order not to be beaten," Sima stated in an answer to why he admitted being the owner of the drugs on the day of his arrest.
According to him, he suffered brutalities in the hands of security officers at the Aflao border when he was 17 years and in the process he lost 40,000 CFA Francs and therefore, did not want to suffer a similar fate on the day he was arrested by officials of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB).
Sima, 39, was arrested on September 7, 2009 at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) after officials of NACOB found three tubers of yam containing cocaine in his baggage while going through departure formalities to embark on a trip to Germany.
He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of possessing narcotic drugs without lawful authority and attempting to export narcotic drugs without licence.
Sima has been refused bail by the court, presided over by Mr Justice Charles Quist, and is currently in prison custody.
Opening his defence in the case in which he is standing trial for allegedly possessing 4.9 kilogrammes of cocaine, Sima said he suffered a scar on his face during his first bitter encounter with security officials and did not want to suffer another fate especially now that he had to preserve his looks for his modelling profession.
Led by his lawyer, Mr James Agalga, in his evidence-in-chief, Sima said he was shocked to find that the tubers of yam he had bought from a vendor on the Graphic Road contained cocaine.
According to him, his cousin packed his luggage for him, adding that he had to tell security officials one Salifu gave him the cocaine to avoid being brutalised.
He further stated that one of the security officials, who were mostly armed, slapped his watchman for delaying in opening the gate to his (Sima's) house in Tema, adding that that incident scared him to the brink of admitting the narcotic drugs were his.
Sima stated that the security officials numbering more than six ransacked his house and in the process took away his laptop, wristwatches and perfumes. He said they also ate his bread.
According to him, the security officials took him to his office but they did not find anything incriminating.
Sima further told the court that the padlock on his bag had been tampered with, adding that the zip on his bag was broken.
He denied an assertion from the prosecution that he opened the bag to enable security officers to search it, explaining that the bag had already been opened before he was invited by the security officers to answer questions.
"I did not object to them touching the bag. The zip was opened which made it easy for anyone to go into the bag anytime. I have not touched the padlock until today," Sima told the packed courtroom.
According to him, between January and February, 2009 a security official demanded $2,000 from him at the airport for allegedly swallowing narcotic drugs.
Sima said he refused to pay the money because he had not swallowed drugs or had any drug in his luggage.
He also denied claims by the prosecution that he had admitted using a scraper to scoop the tubers of yam before stuffing them with cocaine. He explained that he used the scraper to flatten silicon to seal his leaked ceiling.
He also denied being a drug dealer and claimed innocence for all the charges levelled against him.
Sima, who has since finished with his evidence, said he could not have used a glue to seal the tubers of yam because the yams were wet.
Hearing continues on Monday, July 12, 2010.

Bawku MP ordered to open defence

Friday, July 9, 2010 (Page 3 Lead)

THE Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday ordered the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Adamu Daramani Sakande, to open his defence and answer three charges out of nine levelled against him with respect to his nationality.
He is expected to open his defence on August 2, 2010 on the following counts: false declaration for office or voting contrary to Section 248 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, Act 29; perjury contrary to Section 210 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, Act 29 and deceiving a public officer contrary to Section 252 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, Act 29.
According to the court, the prosecution was able to prove that the MP in October 2008 made a false declaration, as well as committed perjury and deceived a public officer when he swore an oath to the effect that he owed allegiance to no country other than Ghana contrary to evidence that his British passport would expire in 2014.
Ruling on a "submission of no case" filed on behalf of the MP by his lawyers, the presiding judge, Mr Justice Charles Quist, held that the defence team failed to establish that the accused person was not a Ghanaian and there was, therefore, no point in ordering the MP to answer charges relating to his entering the country in 2001 among others.
The court, after careful scrutiny of the evidence led by the prosecution, subsequently, acquitted and discharged Sakande on six counts of Prohibited Immigrant contrary to Section 8 (2) of the Immigration Act, 2000, Act 573 and Forgery of Passport or Travel Certificate contrary to Section 15 of the Passports and Travel Certificates Act, 1967, N.L.C.D. 155
Acquitting the accused person on the charge of entering the country as a prohibited immigrant, the court held that the Constitution and the Representation of the People's Amendment Act now allowed persons to hold dual citizenship titles, as well as vote on that status.
Touching on the charge of forgery of document, the court held that the prosecution failed to prove that the MP forged documents in February, 2001 with the intent to contravene the immigration laws of Ghana.
Sakande has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and the court admitted him to bail in the sum of GH¢10,000 with a surety.
The MP was, on July 31, last year, arraigned before the Accra Fast Track High Court, charged with nine counts relating to his nationality, perjury, forgery of passport, election fraud, as well as deceiving public officers to be elected as an MP.
The complainant in the case, Mr Sumaila Biebel, had, on January 19, 2010, told the court that he had met the MP in London in 1998 and it was during a chat with him that the MP had told him that he (the MP) was a native of Bawku, as well as a British national.

4 Drag AMA, others to court

July 8, 2010 (Page 3)

FOUR persons have dragged the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and four others to the High Court in Accra, praying the court to declare that the 4.14-acre land, popularly called the Kinbu Gardens in Accra, belonged to the Kinbu Secondary Technical School.
The four, Alhaji Ali Braimah, Nii Tetteh Osu Nortey I, Nana Ahwireng Okanta-Obeng and Emmanuel Adotey, sued on behalf of the Tudu Community of Accra and the Board of Governors of the school, the Osu Stool, the parent-teacher association ( PTA) of the school and the old students association of the school, respectively.
They are praying the court to order the AMA and the other defendants, namely, the Lands Commission, the Accra City Management Company Limited, the Dream Reality Company Limited and the contractor on site, to vacate the said parcel of land which is opposite the Novotel Hotel and restore it back to the school.
A writ of summons filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by their counsel, Mr Bright Akwetey, is praying the court to declare that the AMA acted in breach of faith in removing traders and the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) from the said land to facilitate the construction, instead of handing the affected land back to the school.
They are, therefore, praying for an order for recovery of possession and general damages for trespass on the land, which is currently being developed into a private shopping mall and offices on the instructions of Dream Reality..
In their writ of summons, the four are also urging the court to restrain Dream Reality and the contractor on site from continuing with the proposed project on the land until the final determination of the case.
They are also seeking an order revoking a February 22, 2001 lease from the AMA to the Accra City Company Limited, which they described as null and void and, therefore, conveyed no valid title on the Accra City Company Limited and the Dream Reality Company Limited.
The four are pleading with the court to also declare as null and void a deed of assignment dated July 23, 2008 from the Accra City Company Limited to Dream Reality.
They are also seeking a declaration that the Lands Commission has no authority under the laws of Ghana to allocate public lands acquired for specified public purposes to private persons for their private benefit.
Also being sought by the plaintiffs is a declaration that the Lands Commission violated Article 20 of the Constitution, the State Lands Act 1962 and the State Lands Regulations 1962 (L.I. 230) Certificate of Title No. 432 of March 16, 1894, by allocating the public land to private persons for their private benefit, among others.
A statement of claim accompanying the writ of summons stated, among others, that by a Certificate of Title No. 432 dated 16th March, 1894, the Government of the Gold Coast acquired 8.76 acres of Osu Stool lands for “Government Services”, in accordance with the Public Lands Ordinance of 1876, and established the Rowe Road Middle Boys’ School on the land, complete with its own playing field, a workshop and a school garden.
It said the portion of the land now in dispute and the portion of land now occupied by the Novotel Hotel, as well as a portion occupied by part of the then Ambassador Hotel, were all part of the land compulsorily acquired by the Government of the Gold Coast for the Rowe Road Middle Boys’ School, now Kinbu Sec Tech.
The statement of claim stated that the school used a portion of the land as its playing field and a portion, stretching from the playing field through the land occupied by Novotel and part of the Ambassador Hotel, as the school’s garden. The school had a workshop next to the playing field on the same land.
Citing other instances which, according to the plaintiffs, clearly indicated that the land belonged to the school, the plaintiffs said it was, therefore, wrong for the AMA to lease the land to the Accra City Company Limited, with the active connivance of the Lands Commission.
It is also the position of the plaintiffs that if the defendants, particularly the Accra City Management Company Limited, the Dream Reality Company Limited and the contractor on site, were not restrained, the school would lose the land permanently, to its detriment and at the expense of education in this country.