Tuesday, February 22, 2011

••• And many wailed

January 21, 2011 (Page 3)

THE scene on the premises of the Cocoa Affairs Court yesterday was akin to a church crusade, as a large number of the members of the Jesus Prophetic Ministry wailed, trembled and cursed perceived “enemies” of their prophet.
Prophet Kofi Yirenkyi, aka Jesus Onetouch, was being taken away to begin a 10-year jail term for defiling his own daughter and, for more than 30 minutes, the crowd stayed within the premises of the Cocoa Affairs Court, wailing, chanting and invoking curses as they simply could not bring themselves to the reality that the ‘Prophet’ had been jailed.
Led by the prophet’s wife, Madam Akosua Agyeiwaa, members of his family and leading members of the church, the crowd was at it for more than 30 minutes, demonstrating their anguish and pain interspersed with a free flow of bitter comments.
The spouse and the followers of Prophet Onetouch, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on each count of defilement and incest, wept bitterly and hurled insults on the victim’s mother (who was not present in court) for bringing such mishap on them.
Some of the comments were, “He did not do it.” “God will prove to the world Jesus Onetouch did not commit the crime”; “May God punish those who have brought this mishap to him”; “Oh God, this is too painful”; and “Oh God, why should this happen?”
A woman even turned to the journalists present and warned them to be careful with their coverage since they too might suffer dire consequences.
The convict, who looked calm, kept repeating, “If I am the one who slept with my daughter, may the Almighty God kill me.”
In apparent reference to the police who refused to allow him to talk to the public, Prophet Onetouch said, “So, after convicting me, you will not allow me to talk to journalists?”
Some members of his church were so angry and sad that they lay flat on the floor, weeping bitterly and wondering why that should happen to a man of God.
Some of them had attempted to cause a stir in the court room but the trial judge, Mrs Georgina Mensah-Datsa, was able to stop them on time by warning the first screamer, “If you cannot take the heat, go outside.”
The judge’s warning kept the followers at bay until they left the court room around 9.51 a.m. to freely express how bitter they were.
The incensed crowd, led by Akosua Agyeiwaa, spoke mostly in Twi and fought the policemen for refusing to allow the convict to interact with the large number of journalists who had thronged the court premises to cover the trial.
Akosua Agyeiwaa, who kept asking, “What will happen to my children?”, was held firmly by her friends and family members and urged to control herself but she would not listen.
Her adrenaline level was so high that she was not bothered about the large number of cameramen who had surrounded her to take pictures.
A similar crowd had been very hostile towards journalists in March 2010 when Prophet Onetouch was first arraigned before the court, but yesterday they threw caution to the wind got drowned in their pain.
The police ignored his comments, managed to keep his aggressive wife at bay and drove him off to begin his sentence.
According to the judge, the prosecution was able to prove that the victim was 10 years old, her hymen had been broken, the convict had slept with her on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and wiped off the fluid from the sex before beginning his church service on the mentioned days.
The court held that the prosecution had proved the charge of incest against the convict beyond reasonable doubt because the convict himself had stated that the victim was his biological daughter, while the victim had proved to the court that the convict had slept with her several times and wiped off the fluid from their sex with a white handkerchief.

Jesus Onetouch jailed

January 21, 2011 (Lead story)

“IF you cannot take the heat, go outside!” were the words of a circuit court judge to an elderly woman who screamed after Prophet Nana Kofi Yirenkyi, alias Jesus Onetouch, had been handed a 10-year prison term for defiling his 10-year-old daughter.
The trial judge, Mrs Georgina Mensah-Datsa, then proceeded to sentence Jesus Onetouch, the Founder and General Overseer of the Jesus Blood Prophetic Ministry to another 10 years’ imprisonment for incest.
The convict, who had been in detention for the past 11 months, will serve the sentences concurrently.
The judgement was met with screams, curses and wailing by the convict’s wife and his family and church members, but the 47-year-old convict looked calm when the judgement was pronounced.
The police had a tough time controlling the family members, who did not take kindly to the police officers’ decision not to allow the convict to grant an interview to journalists. He was whisked away by armed policemen to begin his sentence around 10.02 a.m.
The convict, however, kept on saying, “If I am the one who slept with my daughter, may the Almighty God kill me,” while his lawyer, Mr K. Adomako Acheampong, assured him that he would file an appeal on his behalf.
On entering the courtroom around 9:13 a.m., Jesus Onetouch enquired from his lawyer why there were so many policemen within the court premises, to which his lawyer asked him to be calm and leave everything to God.
The convict, who wore a dark suit, entered into a moment of prayer before the trial judge was ushered into the courtroom to begin reading her judgement.
In her judgement, Mrs Mensah-Datsa said the prosecution had proved the guilt of the convict beyond reasonable doubt, noting that she took into account the fact that the convict was a first offender and father of six children before passing judgement.
According to the judge, the prosecution was able to prove that the victim was 10 years old, her hymen had been broken, the convict had slept with her on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and wiped off the fluid from the sex before beginning his church service on those days.
The court held that the prosecution had proved the charge of incest against the convict beyond reasonable doubt because the convict himself had stated that the victim was his biological daughter, while the victim had proved to the court that the convict had slept with her several times and wiped off the fluid from their sex with a white handkerchief.
Touching on the issue of defilement, it held that the prosecution was able to prove that the victim was below 16, two medical doctors had examined her and stated in their report that her hymen was not intact, while the girl was able to prove that she had been defiled by the convict.
It said it found the victim very truthful in her evidence and further pointed out that other witnesses had corroborated her ordeal.
According to the court, other witnesses also corroborated the victim’s evidence that the convict had warned her of serious consequences if she dared reveal her ordeal to anyone, adding that it was also on record that the convict had pleaded with the police to drop the case.
Touching on the defence team’s argument that the victim’s mother, who was also the complainant in the case, had hatched a plan with her family members to destroy the convict, it said it was difficult to accept that argument because the complainant would not hatch such a plot, considering the societal stigmatisation that would come along with such a plot.
Responding to the convict’s evidence that a man named Efo Emma was the one who ha defiled his daughter and that he (convict) had reported the matter to the police, the court held that there was no evidence on record to prove that the convict had lodged a complaint with the police.
It said from the records it was also clear that the victim’s mother never stated anywhere that she was aware her daughter had been defiled by the said Efo Emma who was once a security man at the convict’s house.
The facts of the case were that the 10-year-old victim confessed that the accused person, after bouts of sexual intercourse with her, wiped off the sperms from his sexual organ and the fluids from her vagina with a white handkerchief.
According to the prosecution, the victim, who was born out of wedlock, lived with her mother at Dawu in Akuapem until 2005 when she relocated to Accra to live with her father at McCarthy Hill to attend school.
It said in the latter part of 2007, the convict began having sex with the victim each time before he organised a church service.
In November 2009, the convict gave the victim's mother an opportunity to hold discussions with the victim about a bad behaviour she was exhibiting.
During the interaction with her mother, the victim revealed her ordeal to her mother, which resulted in the woman lodging a complaint with the police.

Tsatsu's case back • Supreme Court says IFC not immune from Judicial process

January 19, 2011 (Lead story)

THE Supreme Court yesterday resurrected the nine-year-old legal tussle between the former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, and the state when it ruled that the International Financial Corporation (IFC) is not immune from Ghana’s judicial processes.
The immunity or otherwise of the IFC was in contention following Mr Tsikata's request that the corporation be invited to testify in the case in which he had been charged with three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢230,000 to the state through a loan he, on behalf of the GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private cocoa producing company, and another count of misapplying GH¢2,000 in public property.
On June 18, 2008, Mr Tsikata was found guilty and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on each count to run concurrently but he was pardoned in December 2008 by former President J.A. Kufuor.
Mr Tsikata, however, rejected the pardon, but prison officials refused his request to stay in prison to fight his cause to the end.
At the Supreme Court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, in a unanimous decision it held that The Article of the Legislative Notification 9, The International Bank, Fund and Finance Corporation (Immunities and Exchange Contracts) Order 1958 states, “Actions may be brought against the corporation only in a court of competent jurisdiction in the territories of a member in which the corporation has an office, has appointed an agent for the purpose of accepting service or notice of process, or has issued or guaranteed securities."
The court was presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, with Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo as members.
However, in a 3-2 majority decision, the court held that under the same Legislative Notification, "No action shall, however, be brought by members or persons acting for or deriving claims from members. The property and assets of the corporation shall, wheresoever located and by whomsoever held, be immune from all seizure, attachment or execution before the delivery of final judgement against the corporation.”
For that reason, the court held that the Country Director and the employees of the IFC could not be called to testify at the lower court where Mr Tsikata had been charged with causing financial loss to the state.
According to the court, Mr Tsikata's individual interest could not override that of the public interest and for that reason the Court of Appeal had not been wrong in upholding the decision of the FTC to withdraw its (FTC's) earlier decision inviting the IFC Country Director to testify in Mr Tsikata's trial.
Ms Justice Akuffo, Mr Justice Ansah and Mrs Justice Adinyira held a majority view on the issue of IFC employees’ immunity from the country's judicial processes.
Reading the judgement of the three on that matter, Mrs Justice Adinyira considered the view of Justice Atuguba that the right to fair trial under the Constitution overrode the immunity of IFC directors and officers as “too sweeping”.
According to her, the constitutional rights of the individual must be balanced against the rights of others and the public interest.
She referred to the Vienna Convention as creating international obligations on the country and, therefore, on individual rights and further indicated that it was only on that single issue that she held a different position from that expressed in the judgement of Justice Atuguba.
The position of Justice Atuguba on that second issue of the immunity of the directors and officers of the IFC was supported by Mrs Justice Akoto-Bamfo.
The two were of the view that the Constitution guaranteed the rights and interests of individuals and for that reason the interest of Mr Tsikata overweighed that of the IFC.
The court should have given its judgement on June 25, 2008 but had to adjourn the case sine die following a request to that effect from Mr Tsikata, who had then been sentenced to a five-year jail term.
Valley Farms contracted the loan from Caisse Francaise de Developement in 1991 but defaulted in the payment and the GNPC, which had acted as the guarantor, was compelled to pay it in 1996.
During Mr Tsikata’s defence, he had stated that the IFC had financed a feasibility study which had been conducted on the Valley Farms project and that study had indicated that the project was viable.
He then prayed the Fast Track High Court to issue a subpoena to the IFC Country Director to appear before the court and make available the feasibility study report on the project.
The court, presided over by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, granted the request and issued the subpoena, but lawyers for the IFC appeared before the court and argued that the IFC and its employees were immune from judicial processes unless they decided to waive that immunity.
Following the IFC’s submissions, the Fast Track High Court withdrew its earlier subpoena, prompting Mr Tsikata to appeal against the decision, but the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the lower court.
He then went to the Supreme Court, praying the highest court of the land to decide on the matter.

Bawku Central MP's case adjourned

January 18, 2011 (Page 3)

THE trial of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Adamu Daramani Sakande, on his nationality was yesterday adjourned because the prosecutor in the case is indisposed.
A representative from the Attorney-General’s Office informed the court when the matter was called around 11 a.m. that the prosecutor, Mr Anthony Rexford Wiredu, had been rushed to the hospital due to ill-health and for that reason could not make it to court.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Charles Quist, accordingly adjourned the case to January 25, 2011.
The MP, his lawyers and supporters were present in court.
On October 15, 2010, the prosecution prayed the court to give it enough time to verify the authenticity or otherwise of documents produced by the MP to prove that he had renounced his British citizenship.
The court granted the prosecution’s request after it had overruled an objection from counsel for the MP, Mr Yonny Kulendi, who had prayed the court to refuse the request for an adjournment from the prosecution.
Counsel had argued that the prosecution should have thoroughly investigated the case before wasting the taxpayer’s money, the court’s time and his client’s time.
Mr Wiredu had earlier informed the court that his outfit had submitted, through the Police Forensic Laboratory, the documents tendered by the MP to the British High Commission in Accra.
On October 8, 2010, the MP tendered in evidence documents which bordered on correspondence between his United Kingdom lawyers and the British Home Office which led to the eventual approval of his renunciation of his citizenship in September 2008.
Following the tendering of the said documents, Mr Wiredu informed the court that the defence did not give the prosecution the opportunity to verify the authenticity of the documents because the defence had submitted those documents on a short notice.
According to him, the defence did not give the prosecution the chance to verify the documents before cross-examining on it.
Opposing the application, Mr Kulendi said the prayer from the prosecution was unreasonable, unjustifiable and unwarranted because the prosecution was asking the court to cure an omission it (prosecution) had created.
“We have not invited them to do our case for us. If they believe the documents we tendered are defective and do not comply with the law, it is their gain and our loss,” Mr Kulendi stated, pointing out that the prosecution should have silently investigated the documents and addressed the court on it if it later found them to be fake.
Upholding the prosecution’s plea for an adjournment, Mr Justice Quist said it was important for the court to grant the deferment to enable the prosecution to verify the authenticity of the documents for the cross-examination of the witness to continue.
The MP was, on July 31, 2009, arraigned before the court, charged with nine counts relating to his nationality, perjury, forgery of passport, election fraud and deceiving public officers to be elected as an MP but was exonerated on six of those charges on July 8, 2010.
He is currently facing three charges of false declaration of office or voting, perjury and deceiving a public officer.

Sisters remanded for human trafficking

January 14, 2011
THREE sisters who allegedly trafficked 10 young girls for labour and prostitution in Nigeria were yesterday arraigned before the Accra Circuit Court on conspiracy and human trafficking charges.
Fati Abukari, Memuna Abukari and Zinabu Abukari, all traders, were said to have been in this illegal profession for the past 10 years.
The three were alleged to have, some time in 2007, trafficked their victims from Agbogloshie in Accra and Gushegu in the Northern Region and transported them to Nigeria for labour and prostitution.
The victims are Ayisha Ibrahim, Zara Abukari, Hamama Dokrugu, Amina Ali, Ikema Alhassan, Adiza Fuseini, Fatima Yakubu, Rahimatu Alhassan, Nasara Adams and Ibrahim Ayisha.
The accused persons each pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and human trafficking and each of them was granted bail in the sum of GH¢10,000 with a surety.
The accused persons were taken into custody, waiting to get sureties to bail them out. They are expected to appear before the court, presided over by Mrs Georgina Mensah-Datsa, on January 17, 2011.
Prosecuting, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Ms Mary Agbozo, told the court that the complainant in the case was a member of staff of the Regional Advocacy Information and Network System (RAINS), a non-governmental organisation, while the accused persons lived in Ghana and Nigeria.
According to the prosecutor, on December 28, 2010, a victim confided in the complainant that about four years ago she and other girls were recruited by the accused persons from Agbogloshie and Gushegu and transported to Nigeria under the pretext of securing them jobs.
The victim told the complainant that she and the other girls were made to sell porridge during the day and forced to engage in prostitution during the night.
According to her, the accused persons took all the proceeds from the sale of the porridge and the prostitution, without paying her and her colleagues.
In the process, one of the girls was forced into marriage, while one of them went through a series of abortions as a result of having unprotected sex with her male customers.
During investigations, it emerged that the accused persons had been in the trafficking trade for the past 10 years.
They denied committing any offence but admitted transporting a number of girls to Nigeria for work.
Ten of the rescued girls are currently in a safe shelter.

Case of Asabee, eight others adjourned

January 13, 2011 (Page 3)

THE Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday adjourned the case involving a former Minister for Information, Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, aka Asabee, and eight others over an GH¢86,915.85 contract for renovation works at the ministry following the absence of the prosecutor and a witness in the case.
The court adjourned the case to February 9, 2011 as a result of the absence of Mr Anthony Gyambiby, a Chief State Attorney, and a witness in the case, Mr Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa.
Mr Ablakwa was expected to be cross-examined by the defence team but he was absent when the matter was called. No reason was given for his absence.
A representative from the Attorney-General's office who had come to the court to do a case could not explain what had led to Mr Gyambiby’s absence.
Following the development, the trial judge, Mr Justice Charles Quist, directed that hearing notices should be served on parties in the case to enable them to attend court on the next adjourned date.
The accused persons were present in court.
Mr Asamoah-Boateng and his wife, Zuleika, are standing trial with Frank Agyekum, a former Deputy Minister at the ministry; Kofi Asamoah-Boateng, a former Director of Finance and Administration at the Ministry of Information; Kwabena Denkyira, a former Deputy Director of Finance and Administration at the ministry; Yasmin Domua and Prosper Aku of Supreme Procurement Agency Ltd, as well as the company as an entity, charged with contravening the Procurement Act.
They are alleged to have conspired to contravene the Procurement Act by not following the due process in obtaining a contract amounting to GH¢86,915.85 for renovation works at the Ministry of Information.
Sampong is facing six counts of conspiracy, contravention of the Procurement Act, attempt to defraud, altering documents and deceit of public officer, while Agyekum has been charged with conspiracy, contravention of provision, attempt to defraud and deceit of public officer.
Domua, a manageress and cousin of Zuleika’s, is charged with conspiracy to commit crime, after which she was granted a GH¢10,000 bail with two sureties.
Kofi Asamoah-Boateng faces six counts of forgery of official document, possession of forged documents and forgery and possession of false document, while Denkyira faces a charge of conspiracy.
Prosper has also been charged with four counts of possession and forgery of document of architects, an engineering certificate and a false tender document.
All the accused persons have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have all been admitted to bail.
Mr Ablakwa had, in October 2010, stated in his evidence-in-chief that the accused persons did not comply with procurement procedures before the award of the contract.
He is expected to be cross-examined by defence lawyers on February 9, 2011.

Amina's case adjourned

January 7, 2011 (Centre Spread)

THE trial involving Amina Mohammed, the woman at the centre of the rape and robbery case, resumes on January 31, 2011.
The case, which was billed to be heard yesterday, was adjourned because the trial judge, Mrs Patience Mills-Tetteh, is on her annual leave.
Court clerks gave the new date when the accused person, the defence team and the prosecution arrived at the court.
Three witnesses have so far testified in the trial which began in November 2010.
Amina Mohammed has been charged with one count of publishing false news with intent to cause fear and panic.
She has pleaded not guilty and has been granted bail in the sum of GH¢5,000 with a surety.
The facts of Amina’s case are that she granted interviews to radio stations on October 26, 2010 and stated, among other things, that she was among passengers on a bus which was attacked by armed robbers when the bus reached Kintampo and that in the process the robbers ordered a mass rape of female occupants.
She was also quoted as saying that a father was ordered to rape his 14-year-old daughter.
According to the prosecution, investigations revealed that no such incident did occur and that the driver of the said bus reported a case to the Ejisu Police and stated in his statement that his bus had nearly been attacked by robbers at Kubease but he managed to escape, although the windscreen of his vehicle was hit by a bullet.
It further stated that the driver of the bus drove off 30 minutes after reporting the incident, which occurred about 10 p.m. on October 11, 2010.