Crime & Punishment of Saturday, 19 July 2014
Two Burkinabes, charged with possession of firearms before an Accra circuit court, were in a state of shock on Friday after they were handed a 20-year sentence each in hard labour.
Sare Yacouba, driver and Suleymane Porgo, painter, both pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced on their own plea.
Suleymane told the court that he was not the owner of the pistol but Sare gave it to him when they got to Aflao, and that they were going to exchange it for cocaine.
Sare, howver, confessed that both pistols belonged to him, and that he had been selling them at Benin, admitting that Suleymane had no idea about the pistol and he planned everything.
The court, presided over by Mr Ali Baba, handing the sentence, said the issue of small arms was an issue of national concern and the convicts deserved a harsher sentence to serve as a deterrent to others.
At the last adjourned date the prosecution prayed the court to adjourn the case to enable them to contact the Court Registry as well as the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to provide an interpreter.
Sare and Suleymane are Burkinabes who live and work in Abidjan, La Cote D’Ivoire.
On July 4, they left Abidjan en route to Benin. On July 5, at about 0600 hours, they arrived at the Aflao border to enable them to cross to Togo and continue their journey to Benin.
According to the prosecution, the accused persons decided to use the beat nine route and as they got there some youth in the area became suspicious of their behaviour and decided to conduct a search on them.
The search revealed that each of them was carrying a pistol stacked in the trousers at the side of their waist. Further search revealed 32 rounds of nine ammunition in the pocket of Sare.
The youth, suspecting the accused persons to be criminals, arrested them and handed them over to the BNI at Aflao for investigation. They were subsequently transferred to the BNI Headquarters in Accra for further action.
The accused persons, in the cause of interrogation, admitted the offence and stated same in their statements. Sare further admitted that he bought the pistol in Abidjan to be delivered to one Seidu Abubakar and Abdul Majeed at Zongo Porsec in Benin.