General News of Monday, 2 October 2006
For once, the popular but careworn ACP Kofi Boakye, Director General of Police Operations, currently on leave, might be facing the most intricate moments of his lifetime. His woes seem to be deepening by the day since he got himself entangled in the convoluted cocaine scandal that has engulfed the nation for months now. After being invited last Friday, detained for almost five hours by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), The Chronicle has gathered that preliminary actions have been taken to commence the prosecution of the famous police officer, in line with the recommendations of the Georgina Woode Committee.
The Chronicle can report that, ACP Boakye is currently on police inquiry bail and has had criminal charges preferred against him.
Mr. Joe Aboagye Debrah, lead counsel for ACP Boakye told the paper in an interview yesterday that his client has been charged with “Conspiracy to import and export drugs without license under PNDC law 236,” a charge that is similar to that of four other suspects who were part of the famous meeting of suspected drug barons held in the house of the police Operations Director some months ago and are currently in custody after they were arrested and put before court.
Lawyer Debrah who sounded very confident about the innocence of his client, indicated that he and his colleagues who constitute the legal team of Boakye, really relish to be in court over the issue, and hinted controversially that, “I can tell you that if Kofi Boakye is to be prosecuted, then the tone would be set for an unprecedented legal battle in this country because in that case, we would be expected to do what we have to do as lawyers and that will be to defend our client with whatever evidence we have.”
He said the Georgina Woode Committee, “fled from certain evidence that was provided,” stressing that in a law court, however, all those evidence would have to be tendered in, in other to appropriately defend Mr. Boakye.
On the recommendations of the Committee, the loquacious lawyer said those recommendations were not based on facts since, “there were huge gaps in the evidence that were used by the Committee to arrive at those recommendations.”
“The Committee’s recommendation has no basis and so there is no basis for any charges against Kofi Boakye, since those charges cannot stand in court,” Mr. Debrah ranted and pointed out that it was necessary to let the public know that, “it is not what Georgina Woode says that can convict somebody. The public should not be made to believe that what Georgina Woode says is sacrosanct.”
The issue of the source of the tape, which the Committee could not establish, was, in the view of the lawyer, a notable lapse, which also discredits the findings of the Committee. He hinted that if the matter goes to court, Mrs. Georgina Woode, chairperson of the Committee, may have to be subpoenaed to tell the court the source of the tape and the basis on which she could use the content of a tape, the source of which she could not establish, to indict someone for any wrongdoings.
He said the recommendation of the committee against their client if implemented, would have very serious legal and political consequences. Mr. Debrah therefore urged the Attorney-General (A-G) and Minister of Justice to look at the issues very critically, since in his opinion, the A-G did not have enough time to study the report.
In the opinion of the lawyer, all the testimonies adduced to by his client, indicated that he had done nothing wrong. “It is very clear that the modus operandi that was used by Mr. Boakye for the arrest of Ataa Ayi,” the notorious armed robber, “was the same that he was trying to use to deal with certain people who were suspected to be dealing in drugs.”
“If Kofi is to be prosecuted because he was captured on tape on that matter then I can tell you that he would have been jailed long ago, if some of the things he had to do in order to capture Ataa Ayi were also captured on tape,” the ACP’s lawyer charged.
He cautioned that the cocaine issues needed to be properly handled so as not to send a wrong signal to police officers in the country that it is a crime to make any efforts to fight against the drug menace in the country.
Meanwhile, legal men continue to debate over the legality of the Georgina Woode Committee after a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Charles Hayfron-Benjamin, came out to challenge the legitimacy of the Committee, describing it as an illegal entity and its work, null and void.
The A-G Mr. Joe Ghartey, pulled what for many, was an obvious clanger, when he was questioned last Friday for his opinion on the arguments of the retired legal luminary who was a noted figure in the legal domain during the days of his practice. The A-G made comments, which suggested that the arguments of Justice Hayfron-Benjamin were not tenable and possibly because of his advanced age.
For Joe Debrah, the issue about the legitimacy or otherwise of the Committee was one of the issues that informed his description of the possible legal battle between ACP Boakye and the state, as a possible unprecedented one.
Mr. Yoni Kolendi, one of the brainy legal men in the country at the moment, preferred to defer comments on the issue since according to him, he would want to thoroughly read the contention of the retired Supreme court judge as was carried by this paper last Friday before taking any legal stand on the matter.
Hon. Inusa Fuseini, Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central and counsel for the Mr. Ben Ndego, the Director of Operations of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) told the paper that to a large extent, he agrees with the legal position of Justice Hayfron-Benjamin.
The MP/lawyer contended that Ministerial Committees are departmental committees, which could not look into issues of national interest, which is defined in article 295 of the constitution.
“Clearly, the Georgina Woode Committee did not function as a departmental Committee. It had a Supreme Court judge who is ranked higher by the constitution than a Minister as the Chairperson. It also had someone from the legislature serving on it and someone from the fourth estate of the realm was also on the Committee. So it was clear that the Committee could not have been described as a departmental body and if it wasn’t then the Minister erred in setting up such a Committee,” the Lawyer argued.
Asked whether it would be tenable to challenge the legality of the Committee in court or to contest its findings on the basis of its legitimacy, Mr. Fuseini said, “It will be absolutely right to do so in court.”