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Opinions of Saturday, 20 July 2019

Columnist: Iddi Muhayu-Deen

The full story on Gregory Afoko, bail issue and accompanying ‘ignorant comments’

Gregory Afoko is currently standing trial for the murder of late NPP Chairman, Adams Mahama Gregory Afoko is currently standing trial for the murder of late NPP Chairman, Adams Mahama

For lack of knowledge/information they say, my people perish. But that is exactly what happens when people who are seized with knowledge/information fail to make same available to the citizenry. When that happens, the citizens become vulnerable and are inclined to believing anything that is told them even if that were half-truths and distortions by people they consider levelheaded.

Another consequence of failing to make information available to ordinary citizens is that, these levelheaded people, who, notwithstanding the fact of their ignorance in respect of a particular matter, take advantage of the citizen’s vulnerability to set the agenda for national discourse and direct national conversation in line with their personal biases and prejudices rather than on the basis of their intellect and good judgment. This sums up the Afokogate.

That’s why you see media personalities and avowed critics of this government like the Randy Abbeys and the Kwesi Pratts, aver that something untoward had happened and pointing accusing fingers at government. That is why you see pro-NDC lawyers like my constitutional law lecturer, Justice Sirem Sai and my good friend Lawyer Edudzi Tamakloe accuse State actors of lawlessness and organized impunity against the person of Gregory Afoko.

That is the agenda setting I speak about; and ultimately, it feeds into the kind of narrative they would rather we have. Let’s not fall prey to their antics, and this, we can only do if we are seized with knowledge about the facts of the case. Shall we? ... First of all, it is true that Gregory Afoko was granted bail. He was granted bail of GHc 500,000 but with two SURETIES both of which were to be JUSTIFIED.

Was Afoko able to justify the sureties thereby meeting the bail conditions? Big NO. When the Lands Commission, pursuant to its mandate, requested the Afoko team to provide original and further documentations covering the land they purported to present as surety (i.e when they were asked to JUSTIFY their SURETIES in compliance with the bail condition), for purposes of ascertaining, inter alia, whether or not the property in question is encumbered, they NEVER OBLIGED. So, the Lands Commission had no way of verifying the authenticity of the documents/sureties presented to it for verification and authentication by Gregory Afoko and his legal team.

The letter in circulation on social media purportedly coming from the Lands Commission to the court registrar dated March, 2019, ONLY confirms OWNERSHIP of the land/property in favour of one George Hikah Benson, which was not in doubt anyway. It doesn’t confirm whether or not the property is encumbered or has been used as a mortgage in another transaction. It doesn’t.

And contrary to the claims made by Afoko’s lawyer, Nana Yaw Osei, when he spoke to Kwame Sefa Kayi on peace fm on Thursday, July 18, the determination of whether or not the the property/land used as surety is encumbered is SINE QUA NON to meeting the bail conditions, because this will be a big issue during execution assuming the accused jumps bail. That is why the land title certificate has to be authenticated to ensure that it has no any encumbrance, which authentication was not effected in this case owing to the failure of the Afoko team to do what was required of them.

It is also for this reason that the registrar of the court, subsequent to the initial letter to the Lands Commission dated March 2019, wrote again to the Commission, in May 2019, reminding it to speed up with the authentication of the property to ensure it has no encumbrance so that the bail could be executed. To conclude on this, so long as the bail conditions were NOT fully met, particularly the bit about JUSTIFYING the sureties, the bail had become effectively nugatory and for that matter non-existent.

Secondly, it is noteworthy that the High Court granted him the bail at the time the State had filed a nolle prosequi communicating its disinterest in continuing with the case following the arrest of the second suspect, now, second Accused. In view of this, the court of first instance, rightly felt that Afoko was deserving of some temporary reprieve until such a time that the State was ready to jointly and severally try both Accused and sustain the charge of conspiracy to murder, and murder. But, Afoko, as clearly demonstrated, failed to take his chances and meet the bail conditions to secure his temporary freedom.

We must understand that there has been a significant CHANGE of CIRCUMSTANCES NOW. The State is now ready to begin full trial of both men. And in view of the gravity of the crime they allegedly committed, punishment of which attracts a death penalty (capital punishment) upon their conviction, the State, commonsensically, could not risk having Afoko on bail while he’s on trial. This is a nation with over a 1,000 unapproved borders remember?

So, the AG strongly canvassed this position in the High Court of second instance, and instead of raising the issue of want of jurisdiction before the new judge, the legal team of Gregory Afoko, incompetently went into the merit of the AG’s argument and sought to make nonsense of same. So, it is on the basis of the strength of the two legal arguments, coupled with the change circumstance doctrine, that, the judge ruled rescinding the bail since no issue of jurisdiction was raised by the Afoko team. As much as it may sound strange for a court of coordinate jurisdiction to overturn the decision of the other, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact of this case having been replete with some exceptional circumstances as pointed out.

Finally, I put it to all the people calling for justice for Gregory Afoko [as if same had been denied him] to also remember that the wife of the innocent man he [Afoko] allegedly killed is also helplessly looking for justice. The children, grand children and indeed all the family members of the slain former NPP upper east regional chairman as well as his close associates also want justice.

The hundreds of people late Chairman Adams Mahama was paying their school fees, feeding, accommodation and supporting their wellbeing in many diverse ways until he was gruesomely murdered in the most despicable manner also want justice. Upper east NPP and indeed the good people of the entire upper east region also want justice. We are also CITIZENS not spectators. All we ask for, is JUSTICE, and any attempt to deny us justice on the altar of any consideration shall be fiercely resisted. I cannot say this enough!

Assalamu alaik

Iddi Muhayu-Deen #ForGodAndCountry#ForGodAndCountry