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2021 In Review: The Top 15 Biggest Court Stories

The year 2021 was a rollercoaster for many. It had a fair share of excitements and scandals.

Unfortunately, there were sad moments as well, as people lost their loved ones.

Throughout the days, weeks and months, several happenings shook the nation, including cases that tested the country’s democracy.

The legal tussle between candidates of two major parties — Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), preceded the year.

It was, therefore, no surprise that Ghana’s court was caught in a media circus when the country had just ended an election year.

The year lived up to expectation when Members of Parliament, top musicians, industry players, pastors, and others were dragged to the various courts to answer various charges.

Theghanareport.com takes a look at court stories that dominated news headlines and conversations in 2021 as the world continues to battle the global pandemic.

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  • Election Petition

On 30 December 2020, the NDC Flagbearer John Dramani Mahama filed a petition to challenge the December 7 election results declared in favour of the New Patriotic Party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo.

It was the petitioner’s case that none of the 12 presidential candidates attained the 50 plus one mark, per the constitution.

Although the Electoral Commission (EC) said the NPP candidate garnered 51.59 per cent of the votes against Mahama’s 47.37 per cent, the petitioner insisted that it was not a true reflection of the December 2020 polls.

The former president sought refuge in Ghana’s Supreme Court.

Among other things, the former president and flagbearer wanted the court to set aside the declaration made by the EC Chairperson on December 9.

He also urged the court to declare as “unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever, the results declared on the said day”.

Mr Mahama further wants the court to order the EC to organise a rerun between him and the NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo.

But all the wishes of the former president did not see the light of day as the apex court dismissed the petition because the petitioner failed to provide any evidence to prove that the declaration by the EC was full of errors.

It also said the petitioner’s team had not presented any data to counter the figures announced by the EC Chairperson.

In a unanimous decision, the seven-member panel presided over by Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah on Thursday, March 4,ruled against the petitioner.

After 30 days of court hearings and almost two hours reading the verdict, the Supreme Court brought to rest the election petition that caused sleepless nights for justices, lawyers, journalists and the general public.

 

Dominic Ayine’s promise of Good behaviour

The aftermath of the 2020 election petition left a sour taste in the mouths of the petitioner and NDC faithful and caused some reforms for some individuals.

In a post-hearing address to the media, a former deputy Attorney General Dr Dominic Ayine, accused the justices of having a predetermined mindset against the petitioner.

“These are all germane issues under the constitution and laws of Ghana. To reduce the petition into a single issue petition is rather unfortunate and smacks of a predetermined agenda to rule against the petitioner in this matter,” he said.

The Supreme Court justices did not take kindly to the said statement and demanded an apology.

A remorseful former deputy Attorney General promised not to repeat the same mistake and vowed to be of good behaviour going forward.

“I crossed the line with respect to the remarks that I made in terms of attributing inappropriately to the Supreme of the Republic of Ghana, and I just wanted to let you know that this morning, I delivered a letter to his Lordship, the Chief Justice offering an unqualified apology to the court.

“I reflected on that day and realised I had crossed the line. I wish to unreservedly apologise to the court as well as the justices who sat on that day. There was no intention on my part to impugn with integrity, I was just expressing a sentiment with respect to the ruling on that day, and I want to render an unqualified apology,” he said.

  • Rastafarian students banter with prestigious Achimota School
Tyrone Marhguy and Oheneba Nkrabea after court proceedings on May 31, 2021

 

The populace was still digesting the election petition ruling when the country was hit with another landmark case that shook the core of Ghana’s education.

It all started when two students with dreadlocks were denied admission into one of Ghana’s prestigious schools, Achimota, on 19 March 2021.

The rejection generated public uproar, with a section of Ghanaians calling out the school for discriminating against the students — the beginning of a journey of suits and countersuits at an Accra High Court.

The rejected students argued that their right to education had been violated.

They maintained that there was no lawful basis for Achimota School to interfere with the applicant’s rights to education based on his rasta.

Counsel for the Board of Governors of the Achimota School, Attorney General Godfred Dame, on the other hand, argued that the applicants had no cause of action.

He believed nothing within the scope of right to education and religion had been infringed upon, as suggested by the applicants.

But the court ruled in favour of the students.

The judge, Gifty Adjei Addo, said the failure to admit the applicants because of their dreadlocks, which is a manifestation of their religious right, violates their human rights to education and dignity.

“What has the wearing of dreadlocks which is a manifestation of one’s religious rights, got to do with upholding the discipline in the school?” she quizzed.

It was the judge’s view that for the school to maintain that a person must cut their dreadlocks before they are admitted is against the 1992 constitution.

“I reject the argument of the respondents that upholding the reliefs of the applicant will discriminate against other students who abide by the rules of the school.

“Fundamental human rights are not absolute and can be limited by statutes and policies, but this must be juxtaposed with the public interest as in this current case.

“What reasonable justification has been put before the court in the implementation of school rules to convince the court to rule in favour of the respondents,” she noted.

  • Kasoa Ritual Murder

There have been several reported cases of ritual murder across the country, with theghanareport.com counting at least five known ones since April 2021.

 

This was one of the sad stories that questioned the values children adopted due to extreme exposure to televised programmes.

A 10-year-old boy, Ishmael Mensah Abdallah, was murdered in cold blood for ritual purposes on April 3 at Kasoa.

Felix Nyarko, aka Yaw Anane, 16, a mason labourer, who is the first accused, and Nicholas Kini Kwame, 18, a student and second accused, lured Abdallah into an uncompleted building and killed him with a club and a cement block.

Per the reports, the accused persons hit Ishmael with an object multiple times, resulting in instant death.

According to the police, a fetish priestess had demanded body parts from the two in addition to GH₵5,000 to perform money rituals to make them wealthy.

Nicholas Kini and Eric Nyarko now face murder and conspiracy to murder charges.

The case is before the Ofaakor District Magistrate.

  • Nana Agradaa’s woes with police 

The death of 10-year-old Ismael in broad daylight by two teenagers at the request of a female spiritualist generated public fury.

The consensus was ultimately to clamp down on supposed spiritualists using open and unregulated channels to communicate their fake powers of doubling cash or making money effortlessly.

Ice TV and Thunder TV, two television stations belonging to the self-styled Accra-based fetish priestess Patricia Asiedu, also known as Nana Agradaa, were shut down by authorities on April 20.

The evangelist swindled an uncountable number of her gullible audience under the pretext of doubling cash for them through her openly advertised ‘Sika Gari’ ritual concept.

She was subsequently arrested and put before an Accra Circuit Court. She was sentenced after she changed her plea from not guilty to guilty on Wednesday, June 16.

Nana Agradaa was sentenced to a fine of 3,000 penalty units (GH₵36,000) on count one, which is operating a TV station without a license.

In default, she will serve a three-year jail term in hard labour.

For the offence of charlatanic advertisement (Sika Gari), the court sentenced her to a GH₵10, 000 fine.

In default, she will serve a year in court.

The court said the sentences are to run concurrently, which means she will pay the highest fine of GH ₵36, 000.

  • Saglemi Housing Saga

In August 2021, a former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH), Alhaji Collins Dauda, and four others were dragged to court for causing financial loss to the state over the Saglemi Affordable Housing project.

The four others were Alhaji Dauda’s successor, Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah; the Chief Director at the Ministry, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu; the Executive Chairman of Construtora OAS Ghana Limited, Andrew Clocanas; and a Director of Ridge Management Solutions DWC-LLC (RMS), Nouvi Tetteh Angelo.

OAS Ghana Limited was the company that executed the project, and RMA was the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) consultancy subcontractor.

Together, they faced 52 charges, including intentionally misapplying $200 million of state funds by paying for 1,412 affordable housing units at Saglemi instead of 5,000 units.

They faced charges of intentionally misapplying public property, contrary to Section 1 (2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 140); issuing false certificates, contrary to Government Contracts (Protection) Act, 1979 (AFRCD 58), and dishonestly causing loss to public property.

They have since pleaded not guilty to the various charges and are currently on bail.

Meanwhile, court documents showed only 668 housing units were completed after the contractor of the deal received over $179 million.

The case is still pending before an Accra High Court.

  • Owusu Bempah and church elders 

The leader of the Glorious Word Power Ministries International, Reverend Isaac Owusu Bempah, and six others were  slapped with 11 new charges over death threats.

The six others were Mensah Ofori, a pastor with the church; Bright Berchie, a member of the church; Kwabena Nyarko alias Matata, also a pastor with the church; Nana Acheampong, a movie producer; Nana Brown, a blogger and Kwame Amoh, a journalist.

All seven accused persons pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from conspiracy to commit offensive conduct, offensive conduct to the breach of peace, conspiracy to commit threat of death and threat of death.

They have since been granted bail in the sums of GH₵100, 000 each by an Accra Circuit Court.

  • Fake kidnapping in the Western Region

Fake kidnapping may seem a weird act but definitely one of the major highlights of 2021.

Two kidnapping cases topped discussions for days — the Takoradi kidnapped pregnant woman and the Mpohor fake kidnapping case.

Josephine Panyin Mensah is the 28-year-old woman at the heart of the alleged kidnapping case in Takoradi.

Mrs Mensah left home for a dawn walk on Thursday, 16 September but went missing for days in an alleged kidnapping case that caught the whole country’s attention.

She was later found at Axim in the Western Region without any sign of a supposed nine-month baby bump, which raised suspicion of false claims.

According to the police, three separate tests revealed that the woman never carried a foetus in her womb in the last few weeks.

Many were left in shock and total disbelief when they realised Mrs Mensah had feigned both her kidnapping and pregnancy. The case is still pending before the court.

The other pregnant woman, Joana Krah, on the other hand, has been sentenced to six years.

This was after the 29-year-old pleaded guilty on two counts — publication of false news and deceiving a public officer, on October 25.

On the first count she was given two years, and six years for deceiving a public officer. The sentences are to run concurrently.

The convict was arrested together with Susana Awortwe, aged 27 and Francis Eshun, aged 27, on October 25.

According to a police report, the suspect, Joana Krah, conspired with the two others to orchestrate her kidnapping on Friday, 22 October  2021.

After that, a call was placed to the adopted father of Ms Krah to demand the ransom of GH₵5,000.

 

  • Entertainers (Shatta Wale, Medikal and Funny Face) vrs the law

Shatta Wale is alleged to have masterminded false information suggesting that he was shot by unknown assailants at East Legon and was receiving treatment for bullet wounds at an undisclosed health facility.

Initial investigations into the matter involving Shatta Wale and the three others disclosed that the widely reported gunshot attack on Shatta Wale on Monday, October 18, was a hoax in response to a prediction by a Christian preacher.

The 37-year-old dancehall artiste Charles Nii Armah Mensah has since pleaded not guilty to the charge of publishing false news and causing fear and panic.

Medikal is also standing trial for brandishing a Ruger 9mm pistol in a video found on social media and has been charged with displaying arms and ammunition.

However, rapper Samuel Adu Frimpong has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The 28-year-old rapper was remanded by a Circuit Court judge in Accra on Friday, 22 October 2021, when he first appeared before the court.

On the other hand, Funny Face was hauled before the Kaneshie District court for threatening to kill the mother of his twin daughters and a promise to commit suicide after the act.

He has since been charged with one count of threat of death and has been admitted to a GH¢20,000 bail sum with two sureties.

As part of his bail conditions he is to report to the police twice a week.

All three cases are still pending before the court.

  • Pastor who prophesied Shatta Wale’s death

In a viral video, Bishop Stephen Akwasi predicted that Shatta Wale would lose his life on October 18, similar to that of South African reggae artiste Lucky Dube, who was shot on October 18, 2007.

The pastor in question was subsequently arrested on October 19, at the premises of Accra FM while preparing for an interview on the station’s mid-morning show.

The Christian preacher, popularly known as Jesus Ahuofe of the New Life Kingdom Chapel, has been slapped with causing fear and panic by an Accra Circuit Court.

He, however, pleaded not guilty and was admitted to GH¢100,000 bail.

  • Madina MP Francis Xavier Sosu and his constituency

The Madina legislator was hauled before the Kaneshie District Court on November 16 to answer charges of causing damage to public property during a protest and obstructing traffic on a highway.

The first-time parliamentarian, on October 25, is said to have led some of his constituents to demonstrate against poor roads in the constituency.

Since the protest, there has been back and forth between the MP, parliament and the police.

The police invited the MP to assist with further investigations regarding the demonstration but all attempts to get the MP had been unsuccessful.

After the Speaker of Parliament declined to release the MP to the police for investigations, the law enforcement agency decided to use the courts.

After several failed attempts to arrest the MP for his alleged breach of the law, a criminal summon was obtained.

The case is still before the Kaneshie District Court.

  • Missing Rhodaline Amoah-Darko
Mrs Rhodaline Amoah-Darko

Sometime in November 2021, Dr Wilberforce Aggrey, a Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) lecturer, was dragged before the court over his wife Rhodaline Amoah-Darko’s disappearance.

This was after evidence gathered by the police connected the astute lecturer to the crime.

Rhodaline Amoah-Darko, a staff of the Lands Commission in the Ashanti Region, was reported missing after she allegedly left home at Gyenyase on 30 August 2021, and did not return.

After Rhodaline allegedly went missing, the husband reported the incident to the police on September 2, 2021.

Communication from her mobile phone allegedly from suspected kidnappers demanding a ransom emanated from a location (cell tower) close to her residence.

A communication from the husband’s phone reporting the incident to some relatives also emanated from a similar location (cell tower), according to the police per their investigations.

According to the police, the husband has provided incoherent statements on the matter, and thus making him the prime suspect.

The case is before the Asokwa District Court.

  • Cassiel Ato Forson’s ‘past sins’ revisited

 

A former Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Forson, and two others have been dragged to the Accra High Court for causing financial loss to the state.

Per court documents, the trio allegedly caused the state to lose €2.37 million in a deal to purchase some 200 ambulances for the country between 2014 and 2016.

Mr Forson, the Ajumako Enyan Esiam MP, is in court with Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health and Richard Jakpa, a businessman.

They have since been slapped with five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to willfully cause financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act, and intentionally misapplying public property.

Mr Forson and the two others are yet to appear before the court on the said charges.

However, he has maintained his innocence, adding that he wouldn’t be distracted from discharging his lawful duties due to the suit.

“My attention has been drawn to the widely circulated stories suggesting that the Akufo-Addo government has brought criminal charges against me.

“I urge all right-thinking members of our society to remain calm and note that I shall not be distracted by the machinations of the state just because I stand with the good people of Ghana to oppose the repressive policies of this government!”

Kaaka murder trial

Ibrahim Mohammed, popularly known as Kaaka.

 

Ibrahim Muhammed, also known as Kaaka, was a resident of Ejura who was believed to have been attacked by a mob.

Witness accounts claim that the deceased was ambushed in front of his house when he was returning home on his motorbike at about 1:30 am on Sunday, 27 June 2021.

Ibrahim Muhammed was rushed to the Ejura Municipal Hospital to receive medical treatment after the attack.

He was later transferred to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, where he died at midday on Monday, June 28, 2021.

Three persons are currently standing trial– Issaka Ibrahim, Fuseni Alhassan and the brother of the deceased Iddi Muhammed.

The trio have been slapped with two charges — conspiracy to commit murder and murder.

The court is yet to take their pleas.

 

  • Three Teen Students Burn Bolt Driver alive

In December 2021, the three SHS students who set a bolt driver ablaze were remanded into police custody by a Sekondi District Court.

The first accused, Adolf Eshun, faces one count of abetment of crime, namely robbery.

The two others, Patrick Baidoo and Joseph Lord Nii Adjei Oninku, are to answer four charges –conspiracy to commit crime, attempted robbery, causing unlawful damage and murder.

The facts of the case were that the first accused, Adolf Eshun, 18; ordered Bolt for suspects Patrick Baidoo, 19; and Joseph Lord Ni Adjei Oninku, 17; on December 22.

It later emerged that the two burnt the deceased, AB1 Okyere Boateng, a Naval Officer, after resisting attempts to take his vehicle away.

They later poured petrol on the driver and burnt him alive per the facts.

The driver is said to have sustained burns on his face and several parts of his body.

He later died at the 37 Military Hospital.

The suspects confessed to committing the crime after their arrest.

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