Tuesday, February 7, 2012 (Front page)
FRESH charges have been preferred against a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mrs Gifty Mawuenyegah Tehoda, for her alleged role in 1,020 grammes of cocaine turning into sodium bicarbonate.
DSP Tehoda, who was granted bail by the Human Rights Division of the Fast Track High Court on January 30, 2012, had her freedom once again curtailed when the Accra Circuit Court remanded her in custody to reappear on February 20, 2012.
She is facing a new charge of abetment of crime, to wit, undertaking an activity relating to narcotic drugs, contrary to Section 56 (c) and 3 (2) of PNDCL 236 Narcotic Drugs (Control, Enforcement and Sanctions) Act 1990.
The particulars of offence said “between July 21, 2011 and December 13, 2011 in the Greater Accra Circuit and within the jurisdiction of this court did abet one Nana Ama Martins to swap a cocaine exhibit weighing 1,020 grammes into sodium bicarbonate”.
DSP Tehoda was initially charged with one count of abetment of crime of stealing of cocaine under Section 20 (1) of Act 29/60 and Section 56 (a) of PNDCL 236.
The Human Rights Court, in granting bail to her, said the charge was misleading because there was no law which charged individuals for “loss of cocaine”.
The prosecution, led by a Chief State Attorney, Mr Anthony Rexford Wiredu, substituted the old charge with a new one, thereby rendering her bail null and void.
DSP Tehoda, who reported to court from her home, looked bewildered when the court refused to grant her bail, although her lawyers had prayed it to grant her bail.
The facts of the case were that following the Vice-President‘s directive on December 4, 2011, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) launched investigations into the missing cocaine which was tendered in evidence in Circuit Court One on September 27, 2011 and was admitted with objection in evidence for the court in the case involving Nana Ama Martins.
On the following day, September 28, 2011, the defence team objected to the exhibit, claiming it was not cocaine.
According to the prosecution, it would lead fresh evidence to prove that an uncle of Nana Ama Martins’s, called Yankah, and a sister of hers, Serwah Gyaabah, had told a witness in the case that they (Yankah and Serwah) managed to turn the cocaine into soda with the help of DSP Tehoda after the judge and his court clerk had refused to take GH¢4,000 and GH¢1,000, respectively, as bribe.
According to the prosecution, there was another witness to confirm the role played by DSP Tehoda and the others to turn the cocaine into sodium bicarbonate.
It further stated that DSP Tehoda assisted Nana Martins’s family to get a buyer to sell her house in order to raise GH¢10,000 to pay legal fees and other expenses. DSP Tehoda was also said to have invited Nana Martins’s lawyer to her office three times to pay off his legal fees.
The prosecution alleged that DSP Tehoda informed the lawyer that she, with the connivance of others, had managed to swap the cocaine and that at the trial he should request for a re-testing, which was done.
It said evidence would be led to show that DSP Tehoda jubilated in her office after the narcotic drug found on Nana Martins had tested positive for soda.
Mr Wiredu prayed the court to remand DSP Tehoda on the grounds that she was facing a different charge.
Counsel for DSP Tehoda, Mr E. A. Vordoagu, did not take kindly to the turn of events and said the prosecution had introduced fresh facts which did not form part of the charge sheet.
He said a close study of the recounted facts demonstrated that the prosecution was alleging that the so-called cocaine exhibit was swapped in court, adding that it was now public knowledge that the BNI report did not disclose where the swapping took place.
Counsel argued that the charge preferred against his client would fail due to doubts created, adding that “the facts cannot be substantiated in material aspect. The facts are all hearsay”.
He further argued that the charge sheet was an afterthought just to scuttle the bail that had been granted, adding, “The prosecution is desperate and bent on persecuting the DSP.”
He described the prosecution’s action as “malicious” and accordingly prayed the court to grant his client bail.
However, the trial judge, Ms Audrey Korcuvie-Tay, said DSP Tehoda’s offence was narcotic related and for that reason her hands were tied by the law.
She, accordingly, refused her bail and remanded her to reappear February 20, 2012.