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General News of Tuesday, 16 July 2019


Afoko saga: 'It's repugnant, grossly wrong, blatantly unconstitutional' – Occupy Ghana

Pressure group OccupyGhana is demanding a full investigation into the circumstances that led to the refusal of the state to comply with the initial High Court ruling that granted Mr Gregory Afoko, one of the suspects standing trial for the alleged murder of the Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Adams Mahama, bail.

An Accra High Court presided over by Justice Merley Wood, on Monday, 15 July 2019 quashed the earlier bail granted by another High Court judge, Justice George Buadi in March this year.

Although the suspect met all the bail conditions, the state ignored the court’s ruling and continued to hold the suspect in custody for about three months.

The state, represented by Marina Appiah Opare, on Monday prayed the court to rescind the application arguing that given the circumstances of the charges and punishment, Mr Afoko, if granted bail, will not appear for the trial.

The court granted the state’s request and reversed the bail, a decision that has sparked public rage with some critics questioning the government’s rule of law credentials.

Reacting to this in a statement, OccupyGhana said it “is demanding a full and impartial investigation into the apparent refusal of the state to comply with a bail order given by the High Court in favour of an accused person, Mr. Gregory Afoko. We also demand that agents of the State who violated the court’s orders should be punished to the fullest extent permissible under the law.

“Ordinarily, we would hesitate to comment on a matter that is pending in court. But we must be concerned when there is any appearance of gross and blatant violations of the constitutional rights of any citizen. Definitely, the actions of agents of the state in refusing to allow an accused person to take full advantage of a court order of bail, thereby holding him in illegal custody until a trial court makes a different bail order, should be repugnant to all.

“It is a fundamental right for every person to be considered and treated as innocent until proven guilty. The criminal justice system must, therefore, not be deployed or manipulated to punish any person who has not been found guilty of any offence.

“The facts as we know them show that at some point, a court of competent jurisdiction granted Mr Afoko bail. The state appealed and applied to stay execution of the bail order. The state lost.

“Thereafter, and once Mr Afoko met the bail conditions, his continued detention for even one second was grossly wrong, blatantly unconstitutional and an egregious slap in the face of basic human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law.”

The statement added: “It is for these reasons that we call for an immediate, impartial investigation into this matter. Every officer of the state who was involved in this must be disciplined. If Mr Afoko sues and wins, the damages must be borne personally by the public officers who did this. If our taxes are used to pay such damages, it would add insult to the injury caused to Ghana and our reputation by these repugnant acts.

“The people of Ghana enacted this Constitution and stated in its preamble that we believe in ‘the blessings of liberty,’ ‘Freedom, Justice, Probity and Accountability,’ ‘The Rule of Law,’ and ‘The protection and preservation of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms.’ If we lose or compromise these core principles, we would be lost as a people. We must all strive and fight to protect these.

“No one is above the law.”