Friday, August 25, 2006

Will EC Use Ballot Boxes?

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 25 August 2006
AN Accra Fast Track High Court will on August 28, decide whether or not the Electoral Commission (EC) can use its ballot boxes for the District Assembly elections slated for September 12.

This is because there are ballot papers of the 2004 elections in the boxes, which are at the centre of a legal battle between three National Democratic Congress (NDC) officials and the EC over the declaration of the 2004 presidential elections.

The three, Rojo Mettle Nunoo, Squadron Leader Clend Sowu (rtd) and Kofi Portuphy, last year filed the suit for an order to compel the EC among other things to declare the 2004 Presidential Election results polling station-by-polling station under the President-elect Instrument.

The court, presided over by Mr. Justice Victor Ofoe, then ordered that the EC should not destroy the ballots until the final determination of the matter, part of which is currently before the Supreme Court for constitutional interpretation.

But with the District Assembly election about two weeks away the EC yesterday filed a motion on notice for variation of the injunction order to enable the commission to use the boxes for the upcoming electoral exercise.

Moving the motion, E.O. Armah, counsel for the E.C. said in view of the extensive nature of the District Assembly elections the ballot boxes containing the ballot papers of the December 7, 2004 elections will be required for use by the E.C.

"Out of abundance of caution, the E.C. deems it necessary to seek directions from the court as to where the ballot papers should be kept after they have been removed from the boxes," he said.

He told the court that what the E.C. intended to do would not in any way tamper with the ballot papers which under law were being kept in sealed up packets with relevant documentation under Regulation 44 of he E.C’s regulation, 1996 C1.15.

"The E.C. has real need to use all the ballot boxes which were used for both Presidential and Parliamentary elections since in the District Assembly elections there are two levels or contests similar to that of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections," he said.

Mr. Armah said the E.C. requires a total for 42,000 ballot boxes to be able to conduct the exercise adding that "the law only requires ballot papers and other documents to be kept by the E.C. and not ballot boxes".

He said the transparent boxes are specially designed for use in public elections and it will be impossible for the E.C. to obtain an alternate supply of those boxes for the upcoming exercise.

Therefore the sealed packets should be stored in any safe location as the court may direct.

The E.C’s affidavit was deposed to by Mr. Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, the Deputy Chairman in charge of Operations.

Responding to the motion, Tony Lithur counsel for the three NDC members said "the E.C’s application is vague, and gives little detail about the real needs of the Commission and assumes that the E.C. has a right to tamper with the ballot papers by removing them from the boxes."

Mr. Lithur said the present suit touches on governance issues and therefore the integrity of the ballot boxes and other electoral material should be preserved in the manner dictated by the injunction order of December 14, last year.

"We believe the defendants should have been able to make arrangement for the district level elections that will not undermine the sanctity of the initial orders of the court", he said.

He argued that should the E.C. "insist on the removal of the ballot papers from the ballot boxes, thereby tampering with it, then the plaintiffs would propose that the ballot boxes be counted under proper supervision and in the presence of the plaintiffs or their representatives before being stored".

Counsel added. "We want additional security to replace the current one as the E.C. seeks to use the boxes".

5 Suspects In Tema Coke Case Remanded Again

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 25 August 2006
AN Accra Circuit Court yesterday refused bail to five people accused of the disappearance of 77 parcels of cocaine from MV Banjamin at the Tema Port for the second time when they appeared before it.

The five, Kwabena Amaning, also called Tagor; Issa Abass, Kwabena Acheampong, Kwadwo Ababio and Victor Kisseh, alias Yaw Billah, will appear before the court again on September 7 for the judge to decide on the issue.

They are facing provisional charges of conspiracy, engaging in prohibited business related to narcotic drugs, establishing and promoting enterprise relating to narcotic drugs.

The prosecution is yet to present the facts of the case and Nana Asante Bediatuo, counsel for Tagor, in moving for bail argued that the charge has not been properly laid before the court to warrant the continuous detention of his client.

He said the Minister of National Security was on record as telling the Justice Georgina Wood Committee investigating the disappearance of the cocaine that some unidentified persons went on board the vessel to retrieve the stuff and "once those persons are yet to be identified, a clear evidence will have to be established by the police before detaining him."

Mr Osafo Buabeng, representing Alhaji Abass, challenged the prosecution to establish a prima facie case before Act 714 which prohibits bail for such offence could be applied.

"The charges should be properly laid and it should be objective as well," he added.

He argued before the packed court that since Abass was initially detained on July 11 and released on July 25 by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) on the same offence, there was no justification for his continued detention.

Mr Kojo Graham, counsel for Acheampong, submitted that Articles 12 and 14 of the Constitution which deal with the liberties of individuals among other things, "is being breached in this case".

R. S. Blay, representing Yaw Billah also argued that the prosecution had failed to provide the ingredients to support the continued remand of the accused persons.

But the prosecutor, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Abichab Boye, continued: "We have made a headway in our investigations up to some point and if they are granted bail now, they may interfere with investigations. We still need them in our custody."

The judge in sending the suspects back to remand in police custody, said: "I have considered all the arguments made by counsel and I am of the view that the (bail) application is premature."

Tagor, Abass, Acheampong and Ababio were arrested on August 2 after testifying before the Justice Wood Committee.

Yaw Billah was arrested later by the police.

The provisional facts of the case are that sometime in November last year, the police had information about the arrival of a vessel, MV Benjamin, at the Tema Part with 78 parcels of cocaine.

But when the police raided the vessel, only one parcel was found.

Police investigations later revealed that the other 77 parcels were removed from the vessel before the police raid and the accused persons were suspected as having knowledge about the missing cocaine parcels.

As usual, there was huge presence of people and relations amidst tight security at the 28th February Road (Cocoa Affairs) courts yesterday to witness the trial.

Their first hearing of the case was on August 4. The accused were brought to court again on August 18 but the case was postponed to yesterday as the judge was said to be attending a seminar.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Media Learns About Human Rights Issues

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday, 23 August 2006
A workshop aimed at building the capacities of journalists to report on human rights issues more appropriately began in Accra yesterday.

Some 40 media personnel are attending the two-day event organised by Amnesty International (AI), Ghana, with support from the European Union.

The workshop, under the theme "Preventing the practice of torture through education," forms part of AI’s quest to create awareness in the dangers of human rights abuses in the West African Sub-region.

In an address, Prize F.Y. McApreko, Country Director of Amnesty Inernational, said "it is very critical now more than ever before that the media begin to set the human rights agenda for national scrutiny, debate and discussion in the view to prevent the practice of torture, especially at a time when we enter the threshold of our 50th milestone of independence".

The continued existence of all forms of torture in the country should be a luxury "which we must ill afford, considering the level of human rights record which the international community accords us," he said.

"Our spectacular nomination to the United Nations Human Rights Council, must be justified through the rejection of torture" and added, "it is the media that is best positioned to help check such abuses."

Mr. McApreko noted that human rights abuses had assumed sophisticated and elusive dimension which needed "a collaborative effort of all stakeholders to help check it."

He commended the media for making efforts to highlight on human rights issues and said "you are in an enviable position to always lead in the fight."

Mr. Fred Kpor, Co-ordinator of Human Rights Education Project of AI, said the media should always discuss human rights issues devoid of politics, religion and morality.

He said with interventions such as creating awareness on the negative implications of human rights abuses, the media could help make the sub-region a safe place to live in.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

'Don't Sideline Chiefs In Decentralisation'

From William Yaw Owusu, Akosombo

Tuesday, 22 August 2006
A WORKSHOP aimed at building the capacities of chiefs in the country’s decentralisation process has ended at Akosombo with a call on the government to increase the role of traditional authorities in local government administration.

Odeneho Gyapong Ababio II, president of the National House of Chiefs, who made the call said, "As far as Nananom are concerned, we have been disenfranchised at the district assembly level in the whole process."

Odeneho Ababio said chiefs have the responsibility to wage war against poverty and ensure the protection of the welfare of the people and their role in this cannot be underestimated.

The workshop, organised by the National House of Chiefs in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF), was attended by representatives of the Regional House of Chiefs, Members of Parliament and District Chief Executives.

It was under the theme, "The role of chiefs in Ghana’s decentralization and development process."

Odeneho Ababio called for a national debate on whether or not there should be a second Chamber (legislative body) for the country.

He commended the President for creating the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture saying, "this is the first in our history."

In a keynote address, Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, said the fact that the constitution does not permit chiefs to participate in active politics does not mean that they should be sidelined in the country’s decentralisation process.

"As the sector Minister, I am not going to sit down to allow this to persist. I will liaise with government and other arms of government to ensure that our chiefs play significant roles in the country’s development drive."

He advised DCEs to see traditional authorities as development partners and consult them in the development of policy direction saying, "your future success depends largely on Nananom."

Mr Boafo also advised chiefs to help expose those who fan chieftaincy disputes and investigate the backgrounds of people appointed as Nkosuohene (development chiefs).

Klaus D. Leotzer, Resident Representative of KAF, said traditional authorities should be given the chance to play a leading role in the decentralisation process of the country.

"KAF wants to promote broad-base participation of the people in decision-making and this we believe could be done through our chiefs."

He said KAF will use next year to build the capacities of chiefs so that "they can help to push the decentralisation agenda forward."

Topics discussed at the workshop included "Participation of chiefs in modern decentralisation in Ghana" and "Decentralisation within the traditional system of authority in Ghana."

They were handled by Prof. Joseph Atsu Ayee, Dean of Faculty of Social Science and Naa Prof. J. S. Nabila, respectively, both of the University of Ghana, Legon.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Trial Of 5 Postponed

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday, 19 August 2006
SCORES of curious people who thronged the 28th February Road (Cocoa Affairs) Court yesterday to witness the trial of the five alleged cocaine dealers, had to leave disappointed because the circuit court did not sit after all.

The five, Kwabena Amaning, also called Tagor, Issa Abass, Kwabena Acheampong, Kwadwo Ababio and Victor Kisseh, alias Yaw Billah, charged in connection with the disappearance of cocaine from an impounded fishing vessel at the Tema Port, were due to make their second appearance.

The court could not sit because the judge was said to be attending a seminar for judges.

The courtroom which was virtually empty became suddenly full at about 10.35 am when news broke that the accused persons were being brought to court.

When the accused persons entered the courtroom at exactly 10.40 am, under heavy police escort, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Abichab Boye, the prosecutor, requested that the case be mentioned.

The court clerk after mentioning it, announced “Your case has been adjourned to August 24, because the judge is not in.”

Tagor, Abass, Acheampong and Ababio were arrested on August 2, after a sitting of the Justice Wood Committee investigating the disappearance of the cocaine on MV Benjamin.

They had gone to testify at the committee hearing. Kisseh was arrested later by the police.

At their first appearance on August 4, the police preferred provisional charges including acting together to import narcotic drugs and establishing and promoting enterprises relating to narcotic drugs.

They were remanded into police custody.
DSP Boye told the court that sometime in November last year, the police had information about the arrival of a vessel at the Tema Port with 78 large parcel of cocaine.

However, when the police searched the vessel only one parcel was found.

Police investigation later revealed that the other 77 parcels were removed from the vessel before the police undertook the search and the accused persons were suspected as having knowledge about the missing drugs.

Friday, August 18, 2006

NCA Moves To Block Stolen Phones

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 18 August 2006
An eight-member task force has been set up by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to work out a system to render stolen mobile phone unusable in the country.

The committee which has two weeks to submit a report has representatives from the NCA, mobile phone operators and the police.

Inaugurating it, Major John Tandoh (rtd), acting Director-General of NCA, noted that the social menace of mobile phone theft has assumed alarming proportions in recent times, and said "We need to move to check the situation."

He said the task force would consider measures that the mobile phone network operators could use to ensure that stolen phones could never be used in Ghana."

It will also put in place procedures to educate the public on the need to register their phones with the service operators and report lost phones to them.

Major Tandoh advised those who decode mobile phones for criminals to desist from the practice because "such phones can no longer be used in Ghana."

David Asante-Apeatu, Director General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), said 90 per cent of robberies in the country are aided by the use of mobile phones.

He said mobile phone snatching especially in the cities had become the order of the day, adding that "In the Accra metropolis alone, 151 street robberies occurred within this year, 95 per cent of which involved the theft of cell phones."

"When the system is operational we will work in collaboration with our neighbouring countries to ensure that these criminals do not send the stolen phones there" he said, adding that the essence is to make it less lucrative for people to attack others for their phones.

Bank Officer Charged With ¢5.6b Theft

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 18 August 2006
An accountant of the Standard Chartered Bank, Kofi Attuah-Asante accused of manipulating the bank’s accounts to steal about ¢5.6 billion has again been remanded in police custody until August 22, by an Accra circuit court when he made his second appearance.

Attuah-Asante was first remanded on August 1, on a provisional charge of stealing.

His remand followed a submission by the Assistant Superintendent of Police ASP Emmanuel Amegah that the police were still investigating the matter.

He told the court that there was new developments in the investigation and granting the accused bail could jeopardize investigations.

But defence counsel Musah Ahmed, said his client "is being harassed by the bank officials and police to volunteer information concerning this matter."

The judge however remarked, "It will be prudent if counsel allows the police to go ahead with investigations."

Giving the facts of the case ASP Amegah told the court that the Head of Financial Risk of the bank detected the anomaly which was traced to the accused within this year.

He said the audit exercise is ongoing and "we want him to be remanded so that they will be able to come to the bottom of the matter," the prosecutor had said.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tema Hotel Owner Remanded Over Drugs

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday, 17 August 2006
PIRNCE Tibu-Darko, 49, owner of the Koreana Hotel and Komaney Forex Bureau in Tema, who was arrested on August 9 on suspicion of dealing in narcotic drugs, was yesterday remanded in police custody by an Accra Circuit Court until August 23.

This follows a submission by Assistant Superintendent of Police, George Abavelim, that the police needed more time to investigate the matter.

He told the court "we want to read the particulars of the offence but we do not want his plea to be taken because we are still investigating."

But Mr. Gabriel Pwamang, counsel for the accused objected, saying, "the prosecution has not provided any evidence of the surveillance that they claimed to have mounted on him to warrant a remand".

He said his client was being kept by the police based on suspicion and rumour adding that "we should be careful not to open the floodgates for allegation of suspicion in order that the liberties of other people are curtailed."

The judge granted the prosecution’s request but remarked, "we will require you to go on with this case or drop it."

Presenting the facts, ASP Abavelim said Tibu-Darko is a businessman who owns a fishing company in addition to the hotel located at Community 12.

He said the accused does other activities apart from the hotel business and "this includes the distribution of narcotic drugs, particularly cocaine."

He told the packed court that the police mounted surveillance on the activities of the accused and he was arrested on August 9.

Outside the court after the hearing, some sympathizers of the accused who thronged the premises of the 28th February Road Courts, (Cocoa Affairs) attacked a photographer of the Daily Graphic Ebow Hanson.

It all started when Mr. Hanson attempted to take a photograph of the accused.

In the process some hefty looking men pounced on him and manhandled him.

They slapped him several times, hit him on the chest, seized his camera and removed the camera chip before giving it back to him. They sped off in a deep green Golf saloon car, towards the Ministries area.

Although the incident happened in the full glare of some police officers they were unhelpful.

As the other reporters attempted to help get the chip back, a woman wearing Immigration Service uniform was over heard remarking, "who do journalists think they are?"

This reporter asked her to be mindful of her utterances since she was a security official but she would not listen and kept on raining insults at journalists while another man threatened to slap the reporter.

Mr. Hanson has since lodged a complaint at the Ministries Police Station.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

AMA Mobilises ¢990m In 4 Days

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday, 16 August 2006
A SPECIAL revenue mobilization exercise embarked upon by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) yielded ¢990 million in four days.

The exercise which started last week is to redeem debts owed by business entities with the AMA Business Operating Permit.

Briefing the media in Accra yesterday, Stanley Nii Adjiri-Blankson, Metropolitan Chief Executive, said "in response to the need to meet our increasing infrastructural and social commitments, the AMA drew up a comprehensive plan to mobilize all revenue due the assembly in accordance with our rate imposts and fee-fixing resolution for this year."

He said the AMA has established task forces in all the 13 sub metros and an additional one at the headoffice under his supervision to collect all debts owed the assembly.

Mr Adjiri-Blankson said the AMA needs ¢2.5 billion monthly to pay for refuse collection and ¢3.8 million for the maintenance of refuse dumps and landfill sites adding that "without the needed revenue generation the AMA will suffer."

He said that the next phase of the exercise involve the collection of property rates from property owners scheduled to start from September 15 to November 30.

He said the assembly had put measures in place to plug revenue loopholes adding, "as I speak to you, two of our revenue collectors are being prosecuted in Court for alleged illegal revenue collection while four others at the Okaikoi North Sub-Metro are on interdiction for the same offence."

On the Hawkers Market at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Mr Adjiri-Blankson said it is expected to be completed by the end of September "basing any unforeseen circumstances."

He said that all registered hawkers will move to the market by the end of October after which "street hawking will become an offence punishable in accordance with the AMA by-laws."

Nii Adjiri-Blankson said he market has been designed to contain a police post, health centre, fire service station and a kindergarten to ensure that there was sanity in the area.

He said he had deliberately refused to mention the fee for the acquisition of a stall in the market because "some crooks will take advantage of the situation to defraud people under the pretext of getting the stalls there."

He said that the AMA will construct about 40 public toilet facilities in the metropolis by March 6, next year.

He also said the AMA is "institutionalizing clean-up exercise until such time that residents see the need to keep their surrounding clean."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stranded Passengers Storm Airline Office

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday, 15 August 2006
Some passengers of the North American Airlines (NAA) who are reportedly stranded, yesterday stormed the Accra offices of the airline to protest against what they described as "unfair treatment" by officials of the airline.

The passengers, numbering about 26, claimed that the NAA flight 124 scheduled for Baltimore in the United States, left them at the Kotoka International Airport even though they had checked-in on time.

When the Times got to the Dzorwulu office of the Airline, some of the passengers were having their breakfast in an office of one of the managers while others were demanding a refund of their air fares.

The international rules state that "a passenger travelling on an airline should report to the airport two hours prior to departure."

Speaking to the Times, Mrs. Rosie Acheampong one of the stranded passengers, said they got to KIA to check in at 9.30am on Sunday only to be told that the check-in centre had closed.

"They refused to give us hotel accommodation and asked us to come to their office at Dzorwulu the following day," she said.

At the office, she said they were told by the airline officials that the next available flight to New York was on August 15, and that they would have to pay an additional 375 U.S.A. dollars before being considered to join the next flight to New York.

"They left us to our fate at the airport and do not seem to care about our situation," she added.

Some of the passengers said they intend to petition the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority to intervene in the matter while others said they were contemplating legal action and yet others were demanding a refund.

When contacted, Mr. Mark Ofori Amanfo, Finance Manager of the NAA, denied the allegations of the passengers, saying that "they reported very late when the check in centre had closed."

He said the check-in period was between 5.30 am and 8.30 am and added that they went ahead to extend the time to 9.30am which was two hours before departure.

"It was after 9.30am that a number of them started arriving and insisted to get on board, so we asked them to come to our office on Monday."

Mr. Amanfo said the NAA had given them options such as routing them through New York on August 15, or go on the next flight to Baltimore on the coming Sunday which some had agreed to.

On the question of who was supposed to provide accommodation for the passengers until next Sunday, the finance manager said "airline policy says that if you come in late to board a flight you face the consequences."

He said, for instance, that the first among the 26 passengers to arrive at KIA got there at 9.40am, adding that "there could have been a mix-up in communication from the agents or consolidators who made the flight arrangements."

He denied that the flight was overbooked, saying "NAA 124 has over 260 seats and as at the departure time only 149 passengers were on board."

X-tian Professionals Discuss Roles in Fighting Corruption

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday, 15 August 2006
The first-ever integrity conference aimed at assisting the government in the fight against corruption was held in Accra at the weekend.

In all, about 70 participants made up of young Christian professionals, took part in the event which was under the theme "Tackling Corruption; the divine perspective".

It was organized by the Oracle Foundation, a network of Christian professionals.

Addressing them on the topic "Financial Integrity – an essential tool for an authentic Christian", Mr. Emmanuel Akrong of the PriceWaterhouse Coopers (Assurance Division) called on churches to file their tax returns as recommended by law in order to "set good leadership example for the congregation to follow".

He said "If churches file their tax returns as they are not mandated to pay taxes, the numerous members who have big businesses will be morally motivated enough to also pay taxes for the economy to grow".

Mr. Akrong said the church has the responsibility to help tackle corruption from the Christian perspective adding that "in Christianity there should always be nothing like financial corruption".

He said it was common knowledge that some church leaders indulged in financial impropriety, and " the congregation now feel motivated to follow the example of their leaders by also indulging in fraud".

"Today people make money through fraud and go back to church for blessing, and the church leaders do not make any attempt to question such people about their sources of income," he added.

To help check financial fraud, Mr. Akrong said the time had come for organizations, especially churches to form trusteeship committees, among others, to ensure transparency.

He commended the government for introducing the Whistle Blower Bill and the Anti-Money Laundering Bill which is awaiting parliamentary approval, saying that "such interventions will help scrutinize activities of all organizations, including churches.

Mr. Micheal Apperty, coordinator of the Oracle Foundation, said the time had come for government to try the Christian principle in the right against corruption.

"The nation has adopted many strategies to fight this social problem but let us go back to the Bible to seek moral values in this fight".

Mr. Aawonam Amevor, Investment Analyst of the Gold Coast Securities Limited, who chaired the function, charged the youth to spread the message on government’s anti-corruption drive.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bok Nam Kim School Opens Door To Gov't

From William Yaw Owusu, Akuse

Friday, 11 August 2006
The 29th graduation ceremony of the Bok Nam Kim Agricultural School and Farm Limited was held here last Friday, with a call on government to make use of the school’s facility to train more people in rice production.

In all, 40 students, all men drawn from the prisons service, some universities, youth training centres and other private farmers underwent a five-week training in modern and scientific methods of rice cultivation.

The school, since its establishment in 1982 by the late Bok Nam Kim, then Executive Chairman of AFKO Group of companies Limited, has trained about 998 Ghanaians (about 100 of whom are women) in rice cultivation and production as well as livestock production.

In his address, Mr. Clement Eledi, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, said the introduction of the NEPAD School Feeding Programme which is making locally produced rice a priority will enable more people to go into rice cultivation.

He noted that even though rice was becoming an important staple cereal with a per capita consumption of around 26 to 30 kilogrammes per annum, the consumption level far outweighed what local farmers were able to produce.

"For the past 10 years (1995 to 2005) milled rice production in the country has averaged 150,000 metric tonnes which gives a self-sufficiency ration of about 35 per cent and the shortfall is supplemented by large imports (350,000 to 400,000 metric tonnes) which negatively affect the trade balance."

To address the problem, the deputy minister said the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) which is under revision will ensure increased production and productivity of rice based cropping systems.

He also said that the government was vigorously pursuing the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) technology which will ensure the cultivation of about 12,000 hectares of land and bring in about 30,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice within a five-year period.

Mr. Lee Sang-Pal, the South Korean Ambassador to Ghana said the school had become one of the most important symbols of ever-strengthening Ghana-Korea friendship.

He said Korea was ready to support Ghana’s agric sector, adding "with sound agricultural policies geared towards rural development, Ghana will surely be on the path of economic recovery."

Mr. S.C. Choi, Managing Director of AFKO Group of Companies, said govern-ment’s prioritization of agriculture as the backbone of the economy was a step in the right direction.

Mr. J. W. Oteng, an agriculturalist who chaired the function urged government to make use of the school to train more people to help ensure food security.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Guinean Jailed For Drug Pushing

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday, 03 August 2006.
A 34-year-old Guinean was yesterday sentenced to 18 years in jail for drug trafficking by the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal in Accra.

Amadou Lamarana Diallo who is self employed concealed 29 pellets of cocaine weighing 289.17 grammes in his underwear and attempted to export it to Europe last year.

He had pleaded not guilty to possessing narcotic drugs without lawful authority but the tribunal presided over by Mr. Justice Frank Manu, returned a guilty verdict after a full trial.

Mrs. Rebecca K. Adjalo, Assistant State Attorney who prosecuted the case said Diallo was arrested on April 2, last year, at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) where he was about to travel to Mapenza, Italy.

She told the tribunal that Diallo, holder of a Guinean passport arrived at KIA on that day at about 9.30 pm where a Narcotic Control Board official picked him for a search because his dressing appeared suspicious.

During the search the officials found out that Diallo had wrapped a black band under his waist and covered with his underwear.

When asked, the convict claimed it was "juju" which he was sending to Greece to cure his sick child.

The convict further claimed that he bought the stuff from someone at Cantonments in Accra but when he led the police to the place he could not identify anybody there.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Accountant Faces Stealing Charge

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday, 02 August 2006
An accountant of the Standard Chartered Bank, Dansoman Branch in Accra, who allegedly manipulated the bank’s accounts to steal about ¢5.6 billion is in the grips of the law.

At a circuit court in Accra yesterday, Kofi Attuah-Asante, the accountant, was remanded into police custody until August 15, on a provisional charge of stealing.

The court, presided over by Mr. Samuel Kwame Asiedu, remanded him to enable the police to conduct further investigations into the matter.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Eric Amoako told the court that the head of Financial Risk of the bank detected the anomaly which was traced to Kofi Attuah-Asante within this year.

He was subsequently arrested, the prosecutor told the court.

"The audit exercise is ongoing and we want him to be remanded so that they will be able to come to the bottom of the matter," DSP Amoako told the court.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Court To Decide On Areeba Application October 20

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday, 01 August 2006.
The Commercial Court in Accra will on October 20 decide whether to strike out a writ of summons and service filed by Mr. Richmond Aggrey, a businessman who is claiming 20 percent shares in Scancom Ghana Limited, operators of Areeba GSM.

This follows an application filed by Scancom Ghana Ltd praying the court to set aside Mr. Aggrey’s writ "in part or whole" on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to adhere to procedures in filing the application.

Mr. Aggrey had filed a suit against Investcom LLC, Scancom Ghana Limited and Grandview Management Limited, and got a court order on July 14 to restrain the defendants from going ahead to conclude a merger agreement with MTN Company of South Africa.

He had claimed that "continuing, progressing and/or concluding a merger with and/or acquisition of Investcom LLC by MTN Company of South Africa without taking into account and or providing for the plaintiff’s 20 percent shares in Scancom Limited" will occasion the loss of his shareholding in the company by reason of the accrual of the rights of MTN Group as a third party.

Moving the motion, Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Scancom Ghana Limited (Areeba) said, "the mandatory requirement of seeking leave to issue a writ was not complied with by the plaintiff.

"The plaintiff took out a writ of summons which is intended for service outside this jurisdiction and did not take leave of the court," he said adding, "Order Eight of the Civil Procedure Code provides the methods to seek leave of the court to serve a party".

He said the writ as it stood was a nullity and Scancon was enjoined by law to take steps to correct any defect as far as the suit was concerned, adding that the plaintiff could commence a new action but not in the current case.

William Fugah, representing Investcom LLC, said they had entered conditionally and were associating themselves with Areeba’s position.

He said that going by Order Two Rule Five, the plaintiff’s action "is totally void and must be dismissed" because he failed to take leave of the court before the service was effected outside the jurisdiction.

For his part, Thaddeus Sory, counsel for Grandview Management Ltd said: "We are not objecting to the writ on any grounds whatsoever," but "we have entered unconditional appearance in this suit."

Yonni Kulendi, counsel for Mr. Aggrey, opposed Scancom’s application, saying, "It will occasion delay, unnecessary expenses, and multiplicity of suits if we are to seek leave to initiate the process one by one".

He said the action was commenced against parties who are properly within the jurisdiction and that it was rather Investcom LLC which should have "cried over this" and not Areeba, because Areeba were not at present entitled to move the application to set aside the writ.

"To bring an application to set aside a writ in part or whole, the applicant must be able to show that he or she has not offended Order 81 Rule 2", adding, "the irregularity they are complaining about is not real in this case," he said.

Mr. Aggrey had sued Investcom LLC, the majority shareholder in Scancom Limited, and Grandview Management Limited following Scancom’s decision to engage in a merger deal with MTN Incorporated of South Africa.

The deal has, however, been concluded following the transfer of all shares in Scancom to the South Africa company.

Mr. Aggrey, in his substantive writ, was claiming against the defendants, jointly and severally, an order directed to Scancom Limited to pay him his true dividends declared from 2000 to the 2005 financial years.

AMA Continues War On Filth

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday, 31 July 2006
THE Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) last Saturday, organised the fourth in the series of clean-up exercises within the metropolis.

Nii Stanley Adjiri-Blankson, Mayor of Accra, led an entourage to supervise the exercise in areas such as the Salaga Market, Bukom, Osu, Abossey Okai, Kwame Nkrumah Circle and Fadama.

Even though patronage was not as high as the first exercise held in January, the residents who turned out worked hard to desilt gutters and cleared their neighbourhoods of weeds and garbage.

Trucks provided by Zoom Lion Ghana Limited, a waste management company, were used to carry the garbage to dumping sites.

The exercise was supported by the Ghana National Fire Service who provided tenders to flush the gutters and the military who provided ambulance service.

At Bukom, Mr Adjiri-Blankson expressed misgiving about the attitude of some of the residents who have virtually turned the streets into kitchens, entertainment and playing grounds while the gutters are used as places of convenience.

He said the AMA will no longer tolerate such acts of indiscipline and asked the people to abide by the assembly’s bye-laws.

At Abossey Okai where the patronage was high the Mayor promised to empower the executives of the spare parts association to arrest people who litter the environment.

Oscar Provencal, Public Relations Officer of Zoom Lion Company Limited, said the backlog of refuse left at the road sides and dumping sites as a result of the exercise will be cleared in the course of this week.