An Accra Circuit Court has commenced the trial of a 37-year-old man, Mohammed Aminu Bonkanu, who has been accused of allegedly extorting over GHC1.4 million Cedis from a retired civil engineer in an attempt to facilitate his appointment as the Director-General of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
Mr. Bonkanu under this pretext assured the complainant that he would give the money to Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, to acquire a license for the complainant a former GPHA Boss himself to operate an oil marketing company.
Bokanu is facing two counts of defrauding by false pretenses and two counts of money laundering.
The accused is said to have demanded and received a total cash sum of $132,000 equivalent of GHC726,000, £5,000 equivalent to GHC31,150 and GHC500,000.
The Police however said when the Senior Minister was contacted, he denied knowledge of the matter and also the alleged phone numbers used in committing the offence.
Bonkanu has denied the charges and was admitted to bail in the sum of GHC1.4 million with four sureties who are to be public servants earning not less than GHC2,000 a month.
The court presided over by Emmanuel Essandoh ordered the accused person to deposit his passport with the court's registry and report every Wednesday to the Police and adjourned the trial to July 20.
Kojogah Adawudu, counsel for Bonkanu prayed the court to admit the accused to bail and that he was ready to provide people to stand surety for him and that he would appear before the court to stand trial.
He was of the opinion that the facts as narrated by the prosecution did not support the charges.
Prosecuting, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sylvester Asare opposed to the grant of bail saying granting the accused bail would amount to his acquittal.
ASP Asare said the accused is involved in similar reported cases and when granted bail he would not appear to stand trial.
According to prosecution it was not automatic that when one appears in court he would be granted bail.
“It is not automatic that when one appear in court you should be granted bail immediately.''
Prosecution said the court has the power to decline bail if it felt that accused would not appear to stand trial.
Prosecution further assured defense counsel that he would furnish them with all the documents for the trial to commence.
He disagreed with defense counsel that the facts as narrated did not support the charges.
The Prosecution said the complainant is Alhaji Huseini Suleiman while the Accused resides at Sapieman in Accra.
He said in March this year, complainant reported to the Police that Bonkanu had demanded and received cash totaling over GHC1.4 million under the pretext of giving same to the Senior Minister to facilitate his appointment as the Director-General of GPHA.
Prosecution said based on that Bonkanu was arrested, interrogated and a cautioned statement taken from him.
According to prosecution preliminary investigations revealed that somewhere in 2017, Bonkanu introduced himself as a National Security Operative to the complainant.
He said the accused claimed that due to the nature of his job as a National Security Operative, he could connect businessmen to high profile personalities in government including Mr. Osafo Maafo for appointments and promotion of businesses.
In furtherance to that, prosecution said the accused indicated that he could lead the complainant to Mr. Osafo Maafo to assist him secure appointment as Director-General of GPHA and also acquire license for the complainant to operate an oil marketing company.
“In his quest to defraud complainant, accused person mentioned government officials including Samira Bawumia, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister, and Sarah Adwoa Safo, Member of Parliament for Dome Kwabenya as his associates,” the Prosecution said.
Prosecution said Bonkanu informed the complainant that he has already held discussions with the Senior Minister and that he should expect a message from the Senior Minister.
Subsequently, the complainant received a WhatsApp message purportedly from the Senior Minister confirming that accused discussion of the complainant's appointment as Director-General of GPHA and the acquisition of the oil marketing license.
“The purported Senior Minister in a WhatsApp chat agreed to facilitate the complainant's appointment as the Director-General of GPHA. The Purported Senior Minister also demanded various sums of monies through WhatsApp.
The said Minister instructed the complainant through WhatsApp to hand over all monies to the accused as his trusted agent,” the prosecution recounted.
According to prosecution, Bonkanu followed up and demanded as well as received the various sums of money for the purported senior Minister.
“Investigations had it that between 2017 and 2018 accused person demanded and received cash total in the sum of $132,000 equivalent to GHC 726,000, £5,000 equivalent of GHC31, 150 and GHC500, 000 for the purported Yaw Osafo Maafo. Police contacted the Senior Minister but he denied knowledge of the matter and the phone numbers used,” the prosecution said.
The prosecution said investigations are ongoing.