Court discharges and cautions ‘Volta secessionists’

A Ho High Court presided over by Justice Nicholas Charles Agbevor has discharged leaders of a Volta secessionists’ group charged with treason, and ordered them to sign a bond to be good behaviour with two sureties each for six months.
Mr Kormi Kudzordzi, 90, leader of the group, Divine Odonkor, 65, and Martin Agbenu, 57 were arrested on March 7, 2017 for distributing branded T-shirts delimiting a part of Ghana and declaring independence for a “Western Togoland”.
They were arraigned before the court on March 9 and granted bail of GH¢ 50,000 with two sureties each.
Mr Simon Adatsi, Regional State Attorney, at the hearing of the case on Wednesday, told the court that the Attorney General and Minister for Justice had advised that earlier charges of conspiracy be substituted with a lesser offence.
He presented a motion pursuant of Section 22 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act 30 of 1960 which he said outlined bondage to be of good behaviour.
According to the motion, the accused persons, were members of a group calling themselves the “Homeland Study Group Foundation” of the Volta Region and had constituted themselves into a pressure group which had been meeting occasionally to cause “civil strife.”
Mr Adatsi said the Police, through their intelligence gathering found out that members of the group led by the accused persons intended to hold a special event to declare independence of Western Togoland.
He said the Police came to the realization that the actions of the group were likely to disturb public peace as it constituted a secessionist move.
Mr Adatsi said the police also realised that their actions had the potential of inciting riotous behaviour which was evident in the teeming crowd that thronged the court premises and occasioned the presence of  the law enforcement agencies.
He said the Attorney General, at whose behest criminal prosecutions in the country were held believed that the accused persons who were also leaders of the group be made to sign a bond of keeping the peace and also to be of good behaviour for a period to be determined by the court.
Mr Atsu Abgakpey, lead counsel for the accused, described the motion as an “anticlockwise” move by the Attorney General and said the prosecution was “groping in the dark to find non-existent charges against them.”
He said the prosecution failed to state where, when, and how the accused persons sought to disturb the peace of the country and said the people thronging to court were only interested in the course of justice.
Mr Agbakpey said the accused persons had been harassed, intimidated and maligned, and that the police should rather be made to sign the bond.
He prayed the court to discharge the accused persons and said the affidavit suggested that citizens could not congregate and conduct matters of mutual interest.
Mr. Agbevor delivering the verdict said the acts of the accused persons may be seen as acts that avail to treason.
He said their efforts at independence must follow acceptable international processes of proceedings and that they should seek proper advice and adopt proper methods.
Mr Agbevor said contrary to the claim of the counsel, the bond did not amount to conviction and that it was only meant to caution the accused persons to conduct their affairs in a legally acceptable manner.

Source: GNA

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