JJ Accuser Freed
Thursday, 14 October 2010
“At that point I got a bit livid. I said we are tired of hearing ‘order from above’. You did this with Asabee and his wife, and you are coming here today to tell us ‘order from above’.
Whoever is above please let him come down to the ground and let us ask him for what reason he wants Nana Darkwa re-arrested.”
This was part of the drama that took place yesterday after an Accra Circuit Court, for want of prosecution, discharged Nana Darkwa-Baafi, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) activist who accused former President Jerry John Rawlings of burning his own house.
The trial judge, who took over the case from Justice C.A. Wilson, invoked section 166 of the criminal code, Act 30, to grant Nana Darkwa his freedom, after the prosecution had failed to open their case; and his counsel, Mike Oquaye Jnr. had submitted that the accused person’s liberty could not be curtailed for the mere fact that the prosecution was not ready.
However, two policemen embarked on a fruitless attempt to re-arrest Nana Darkwa minutes after he was discharged and acquitted, claiming there was an ‘order from above’ to do so.
When the case was called, the prosecution informed the court that the docket was still with the Attorney-General and that a state attorney would soon be tasked to take up the matter.
The trial judge then asked the prosecutor if he knew the name of the new attorney and had a letter to that effect, but the prosecutor answered in the negative.
Counsel for the defendant, when asked by the court what he had to say, indicated that although the motto of this nation was ‘Freedom and Justice’, the accused was not being given the freedom and justice he deserved, considering the longevity of the case which was over seven months and yet no witness had been called to give evidence to justify why they were still keeping him in court.
Counsel therefore suggested to the court that in the interest of justice, Nana Darkwa should be discharged- a submission which was upheld by the court.
Just after proceedings, when Nana Darkwa came out of the court, there was an attempt by two policemen who claimed they were acting on “orders from above” to re-arrest him. But for the intervention of his lawyer, judges and police officers, Nana Darkwa would be languishing in police cells by now.
Mr. Oquaye, who saw his client outside the courtroom in tears, asked him what the problem was and Nana Darkwa told him that the police officers had come to re-arrest him.
When the lawyer asked the police under whose order they were re-arresting him, they answered that it was an ‘order from above’.
The lawyer at this point got a bit livid and told them: “How can you arrest someone who you the police charged and took to court and the court has freed? Have you come to re-arrest and send him back to the court?
My client appeared in court on bail and on his own free volition; so allow him to go home and drink some soup in his mother’s house and invite him later if you still want to”. But the police officers were adamant, he told the media.
This created a scene which made judges and lawyers, police officers and other people dash out of their various courtrooms to intervene, before Nana Darkwa and his lawyer were allowed to leave the court premises.
The NPP activist was standing trial on a charge of publishing false information with the intention to cause fear and alarm to the general public, under Section 208 of the Criminal Code.
Mr. C.A. Wilson, then in charge of the matter on March 15, 2010, under the request of the prosecutor, subpoenaed the management of Top Radio, an Accra-based private radio station, to produce the tape recordings of the discussion in which Nana Darkwa-Baafi allegedly made the statement that former President Rawlings set his house ablaze in the February 14 inferno that razed down his Ridge official residence.
DSP E. Y. Frimpong, the prosecutor, had on an earlier date informed the court that he was yet to receive a copy of the tape recording from Top Radio but as at yesterday, it was not known whether the tape had been retrieved or not.
By Mary Anane, DAILY GUIDE