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07.10.2004 Crime & Punishment

Nii Lantey and two others to open defence

By GNA

Accra, Oct. 7, GNA - A Circuit Court trying Nii Lantey Vanderpurye, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Candidate for Odododiodoo Constituency in Accra Metropolis, and two others on alleged electoral malpractices has asked them to open their defence. This was after the Court had overruled a submission of no case their counsel made.

The Prosecution in August closed its case after calling seven witnesses but Defence Counsel informed the Court of their intention to make a submission of no case and the Court obliged.

The Court said the Defence had the right to appeal and adjourned the case to October 20.

Nii Lante, a Broadcast Journalist, Musa Fuseini also known as Alhaji Musa and Gariba Mohammed are being held for electoral malpractice. Nii Lante has pleaded not guilty to abetment of crime.

His accomplices, Fuseini and Mohammed, who were also charged for registering voters without authority, have also pleaded not guilty.

They are on 30 million cedis bail each.

Mr Nii Okaijah Adamafio, Counsel for Nii Lante, in his submission said the essential elements of the matter had not been proved by the Prosecution and urged the Court to acquit and discharge his client.

Mr Adamafio said no prima facie case had been established against his client on all the eight counts at the end of the Prosecution's case to warrant the Court to call on the accused to open his defence.

He noted that there was no collaboration between the evidences adduced by the Prosecution Witnesses. Mr Adamafio contented that evidence also adduced by Prosecution in terms of proof of charges was not sufficient in law to constitute a prima facie case against his client.

He said the Prosecution had not been able to prove what type of forms his client allegedly offered to them.

Mr Samuel Ofori, Counsel for Fuseini and Mohammed, told the Court that from the totality of the evidence given by Prosecution Witnesses as well as the facts, the Prosecution had failed to say anything about his clients registering twice as stipulated by law.

He said the exhibits also provided by the Prosecution could not establish that it was his client who went through the double registration.

"The Prosecution's case would have been more credible if evidence had been led to establish that it was the accused persons, who actually provided all information on the exhibits tendered in their attempt to prove double registration."

In his reply, Mr Augustines Obuor, State Attorney said all the essential ingredients of the crime had been established.

He said there was the evidence of Prosecution Witnesses collaborated and the Witnesses dealt directly with the Nii Lantey, who offered forms to them.

He said there was evidence that related to registration of voters and indeed the holders used them to register at an identified polling station.

Mr Obour said Nii Lantey must be called upon to open his defence to explain to the Court why he gave his jersey and a 100,000 cedis to the Prosecution Witnesses to share.

"Musa and Mohammed have already admitted in their caution statement that they have registered at more than one polling station and thus they must explain why they did that," he said.

The case of Prosecution was that Fuseini was a friend to Nii Lantey. Mr Obuor said a day before the end of the photo-taking exercise Nii Lantey instructed Fuseini to recruit some people to do photo-registration for him.

The Prosecutor said Fuseini recruited Mohammed and five other boys, who are now at large and sent them to Nii Lantey's residence and that it was Fuseini, who led them to house Number 583/3 in North Swalaba.

Mr Obuor said Nii Lante told the boys he wanted them to help him in the photo exercise and gave them thumb-printed registration slips that bore different names.

Fuseini later sent the slips away but some of the recruited boys protested.

The Prosecution said other recruited boys, however, went to the Korlewokor polling station and took their photographs and returned to Nii Lante's residence.

Nii Lante in appreciation offered them 100,000 cedis. Prosecution said two of the boys disclosed this to the New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Odododiodio Constituency, Niibi Reginald Ayi-Bonte, who in turn reported the matter to the Police.

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