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General News of Friday, 23 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Melcom Disaster: Landlord petitions IGP

A member of the Kumasi Traditional Council, Nana Nkansah Boadu Ayeboafo, has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to investigate the circumstances under which one Mr Yaw Twumasi-Ankrah secured an order from the Accra Community Magistrate Court to remand him in custody.

Nana Ayeboafo, who is the Chief of Nzema in Kumasi and owner of the building that housed the Melcom Shopping Mall at Achimota, and the Municipal Head of the Works Department of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Karl Henry Clerke, were on November 8, 2012 remanded in custody by the court in connection with the collapse of the Melcom building.

In his petition, Nana Ayeboafo said Mr Twumasi-Ankrah, who is not a lawyer, misrepresented himself as the Legal Officer and Chief Prosecutor of the AMA not only to ensure that he was remanded but also secure an order to prevent him and his family from entering their house.

According to the petition, which was copied to the Director of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Chairman of the General Legal Council, Mr Twumasi-Ankrah had confessed on an Accra-based radio station, Okay FM, on November 10 and 12, 2012 that he was not a lawyer and that his representations to the courts of Ghana that he was a legal officer of the AMA were false.

"Indeed, it takes a man without legal training to put together a very poor case which I am advised is a misdemeanor and requested the magistrate to remand me to the BNI cells," the petition said, adding, "I invite you to investigate this criminal matter in the ultimate interest of justice."

It would be recalled that Nana Ayeboafo and Clerke pleaded not guilty to a provisional charge of negligently causing harm when they were first arraigned and were remanded to reappear on November 30, 2012.

However, the Human Rights Division of the High Court in Accra, on November 16,2012, admitted the two to a GH¢5,000 self-recognizance bail each and questioned the rationale behind the decision by the Magistrate Court to remand them.

In granting bail, the court observed that the explanation by the prosecution that the accused persons would interfere with investigations into the case when granted bail was not enough to warrant their being remanded, pointing out that bail was a human right which should not be toyed with.

According to the judge, the lower court should have urged the prosecution to show in which way the accused persons would interfere with investigations and not merely remand them.

The facts of the case, as presented by Mr. Twumasi-Ankrah, said about 9.45 a.m. on November 7, this year, the five-storey building that housed the Melcom Shopping Mall at Achimota collapsed when workers and some shoppers were inside the building.

In the process about 82 people were trapped, but a combined emergency team from the security agencies was able to rescue a number of them, but some did not make it.

In the course of investigations, it came to light that the owner of the building was Nana Ayeboafo and it was believed the materials he had used in the construction were of low quality, resulting in the collapse of the building.

In the case of Clerke, the prosecution said he failed to perform his rightful duties.

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