EC Returning Officer remanded for allegedly stealing electoral materials

ballot_presidentialA Goaso circuit court has remanded Samuel Owusu Sarpong, 56, head teacher of Pentecostal Basic School at Bediako near Mim into police custody for allegedly stealing biometric verification machine and other electoral materials.

Sarpong, who was the Returning Officer at Bediako CMB Shed for the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections on Friday, December 7, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, stealing and abetment and would re-appear on Monday, December 31.

Kofi Annor, an accomplice, is on the run while his wife, Esther Annor, who pleaded guilty to the charges was also remanded in custody to re-appear on the same day.

Police Chief Inspector Francis Azambeo, prosecuting, told the court presided over by Mr Osei Kwame Gyamfi, that the complainant was the Chief Technician of the Asunafo North Municipal Directorate of the Electoral Commission (EC).

He said on December 7, the complainant distributed electoral materials to the returning officers at the various polling stations in the Asunafo North Constituency.

Chief Inspector Azambeo said while the complainant was cross-checking electoral materials used and those returned on December 10,  he detected that the biometric verification machine allocated to the CMB Shed at Bediako was missing and the accused was called to the EC Directorate to answer.

Sarpong told the complainant that all the electoral materials were sent to the police station and handed over to the presiding officer.

The prosecutor said the complainant and other officials, together with the accused, checked through the materials returned but could not find that biometric verification machine therefore, the entire crew and officials were sent to the Mim Police Station for investigations.

Chief Inspector Azambeo said during interrogation it was revealed that after the counting of the ballots, the accused failed to declare the results at the polling station which flared-up tempers and some of the people attempted to steal the electoral materials.

He said a police vehicle was sent to the polling station to convey the accused person, other officials and the materials to the police station but the accused, after parking the materials into the vehicle, made several phone calls and took the ballot boxes from the vehicle and handed them over to the accomplice, Annor.

Chief Inspector Azambeo said Annor attempted to run away with the ballot boxes but was chased by the police and they were retrieved from him and sent to the Mim police station with the intention that the accused would follow to the police station with the other electoral materials but he failed.

He said the accused was arrested and during interrogation said he left the materials at the road side to collect some identity cards at the polling station but when he returned could not find the bag containing the electoral materials.

The prosecutor said the accused was granted police enquiry bail on December 14 and two days later, the accused brought the electoral materials to the police station saying it was Esther, wife of the accomplice, who brought them to him (accused) and both of them were arrested and after investigations charged with the offence.

Source: GNA

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