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19.02.2009 Crime & Punishment

Atta Ayi exhibits his legal prowess in court

By Ivy Benson - Ghanaian Chronicle

A well-known armed robber, Aryee Aryeetey, alias Ataa Ayi, yesterday took a bold step to draw the attention of a Fast Track High Court (FTC) over what he termed as an improper line of leading a witness in evidence on the part of a Principal State Attorney, who is prosecuting him and three others in a robbery case.

Ataa Ayi, who is serving numerous jail terms in a collection of robbery cases, stood on his feet and interrupted the process of retrieving vital information from the witness on the part of Mr. K. Asiama-Sampong, and questioned his conduct of the process before the court, presided over by Justice Samuel K.A. Aseidu.

The court, therefore, sustained the objection raised by the accused person and directed the Principal State Attorney to change his mode of questioning the witness in the dock.

Ataa Ayi is standing trial on charges of conspiracy and robbery, together with Michael Tagoe, alias Nii Armah, Prince Isaac Arthur, alias Mustapha, currently deceased, and Mohammed Musa Azangego, alias Madi.

The accused persons were alleged to have conspired and robbed one Sam M. Darko of ¢15Million (GH¢1,500.00), belonging to Capital Refrigeration Limited at Osu, in the Greater Accra region in July, 2004.

In his evidence-in-chief, the 78year-old retired Accountant, Mr. Samuel Mark Darko told the court that on July 24, 2004, he was asked by his Managing Director (MD) to cash a cheque of ¢15Million at the Osu branch of the Barclays bank.

According to witness, after transacting business with the bank and returning to the work place, he was crossed by a car, which was carrying a number of people.

Witness identified the 1st accused, Nii Armah and contended that he immediately came out of the vehicle and pushed him down into a drain and tried to take away a polyethylene bag, which contained the amount he withdrew from the bank.

Witness noted subsequently that the accused person managed to take away the money from him, with the collaboration of Mustapha, who pointed a gun at him.

Mr. Darko intimated that he did not see Madi and Ataa Ayi at the scene of the incident, noting that he reported the incident to the MD, who in turn made a report to the police and a formal police statement made.

In a cross-examination from Nii Armah, who was handling the case all by himself, witness insisted that it was he who pushed him down and took the money away from him.

However, the accused person pointed out to witness that if he had pushed him down, he (witness) would have long been dead.

The facts of the case as stated by State Prosecutors indicated that on July 24, 2004, the complainant visited the Osu Branch of Barclays Bank and withdrew an amount of ¢15million (old cedis) on behalf of Capital Refrigeration.

Prosecutors noted that as complainant was returning to his work place, Nii Armah came out of a Honda Civic car with registration No. As 3078 S, which was being used by the accused persons?

“He walked closer to the complainant and pushed him down and thereafter picked up the money,” the prosecutor told the court, further indicating that the complainant attempted to raise an alarm to draw the attention of the neighbourhood, but Mustapha came out of the car and pointed his AK 47 rifle at him.

Prosecution said the victim was, therefore, put under threat, which enabled the accused persons to bolt with the money.

Prosecutors therefore indicated that Nii Armah was arrested on August 24, 2004, and admitted the offence during interrogations, as he mentioned the name of the other accused persons, who also admitted the offence when they were subsequently arrested.