Electoral officer before court for missing verification machine

biometricThe Goaso Circuit Court in the Asunafo North Municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region has remanded in prison custody the Presiding Officer of the Bediako CMB Shed polling station, for allegedly stealing a Biometric Verification Device used for the just ended presidential and parliamentary polls.

The accused person, Samuel Owusu Sarpong, 56 and Headmaster of Pentecostal Basic School also at Bediako was remanded together with Esther Annor, wife of an accomplice in the case.

The accomplice, Kofi Annor, a Polling Station Assistant went together with Sarpong to hand over the electoral materials in the custody of her husband to the police when they were arrested on December 16, 2012 and put before the court.

Kofi Annor is now at large and he is being sought for by the police.

Sarpong pleaded not guilty to the counts of conspiracy to commit crime, stealing and abetment of crime while Esther pleaded guilty to the charge of aiding and abetment.

They would reappear before the court presided over by Mr. Justice Osei Kwame Gyamfi on December 31, 2012.

Prosecuting, Detective Chief Inspector, Mr. Francis Azamboe told the court that on December 7, 2012, the complainant in the case distributed electoral materials to various polling stations in the Asunafo North municipality for the presidential and parliamentary polls, in which Sarpong was the Presiding Officer at the Bediako CMB Shed polling station.

Prosecutor said on December 10, 2012 at about 4.30 pm while the complainant was cross-checking the Biometric Verification Devices serially as to whether all the materials were intact, he realized that one of the devices with serial number 4023915758 which was allocated to the CMB Shed polling station had not been returned.

He said Sarpong was called to the Electoral Commission (EC) office at Goaso for questioning and he told the officers that the materials where sent to the police station and a police officer handed them over to the Returning Officer, who is a witness in the case.

Chief Inspector Azamboe said the complainant together with the other officials including Sarpong did a check and it came to light that the particular device was not in the office.

He said the complainant summoned all the crew and handed them to the police at Mim for investigations and upon interrogation it was revealed that after counting of the ballot on the voting day the accused failed to declare the results, a development which incurred the anger of the electorate.

The Prosecutor said a police vehicle was dispatched to convey the materials to the charge office and when the vehicle arrived Sarpong initially packed the materials into the vehicle. Thereafter, he made series of phone calls, after which he discharged the materials from the vehicle and handed the ballot boxes to his accomplice, Kofi Annor who is now at large.

Chief Inspector Azamboe said after the police vehicle left, Sarpong promised to follow up to the police station but he failed to do so and he was later traced and arrested.

The Prosecutor said upon further investigations, Sarpong denied stealing the materials and stated that he left the materials by the road and went back to the CMB shed to pick some more of the materials but on his return, the bag containing the electoral materials were no where to be found.

He said on December 14, 2012 the accused was granted police enquiry bail to report back on December 17, but on December 16, 2012, Esther Annor, the wife of Kofi Annor who is now at large, brought the electoral materials to him and both were arrested at the police station and charged with the offences.

Source: GNA

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