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20.10.2004 Crime & Punishment

Nii Lantey Vanderpuye opens defence

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Accra, Oct.20, GNA - Nii Lantey Vanderpuye a former Parliamentary Candidate for Odododiodoo Constituency of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has denied that he conspired with two others persons to recruit prosecution witnesses to take photo's during the photo taking exercise.

Nii Lantey also denied presenting voters slips to prosecution witnesses during the photo taking exercise.

Nii Lantey was opening his defence in a case in which he and two others - Musah Fuseini and Gariba Mohammed- are standing trial for alleged electoral fraud.

He has pleaded not guilty to abetment of crime. Nii Lantey's accomplices, Fuseini and Mohammed who were also charged for registering voters without authority have pleaded not guilty.

They are on 30 million cedis bail each. Led in evidence by his counsel Mr Okaijah Adamafio, Nii Lantey, further denied giving a jersey to a prosecution witness in order to take photograph during the exercise.

He explained that although he had a similar jersey to the one that had been tendered in evidence, it got missing after he had hanged it on drying line with some other items.

Nii Lantey said he failed to report the matter to the police because the matter was trivial.

Accused denied that he instructed Banza Boquaye to give slips to prosecution witnesses adding, "If he Banza Boquaye did, then he acted on his own."

He said he was the parliamentary candidate for the National Democratic Congress but has stepped down and had also resigned from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) where he worked as a journalist. He told the court that he knew Musa as a member of the NDC, adding, "I however got to know Gariba and other prosecution witness after my arrest."

He said on June 24, this year, during the photo taking exercise, he sent his children to school and returned home at about 0815 hours. Nii Lantey said he took his breakfast in his house, and had a meeting with his aides, including Banza Boquaye.

He said after the meeting, he went to check on the how the picture taking exercise was going on in his constituency but left for his office at GBC at midday.

Counsel: Before you left the house, did you receive any visitors? Nii Lantey: Yes I met Musa and some young men who told me that they wanted to have some discussion with me. I told them that I was in a hurry and referred them to Banza Boquaye. any thing.

Nii Lantey: Yes my Lord.

Nii Lantey further told the court that he left them and returned to work after which he picked his children at school and brought them home. "From the house, I proceeded to a political meeting at about 7:00pm," Nii Lantey stated.

According to him when he returned, Banza Boquaye told him that the young men who came to his house in the morning had volunteered to be foot soldiers during his campaign.

Nii Lantey said police at the Police headquarters later invited him. According to him the investigator told him that Honourable Nii Bi Ayibontey had reported a case against him and two others. He said he wrote a statement to that effect.

On July 24, this year at about 4:00 and 4:30am, Nii Lantey said he said heard a bang on his door and window.

"I woke up to find 10 plain and uniformed police personnel carrying weapons and they ordered me to bring the Identity Cards (ID) of people I had recruited."

Nii Lantey said: "I told them I did not have any and did not know what they were talking about."

He said the police asked him to produce his voters ID and his mother produced an album that contained his relations ID cards. Nii Lantey said the police after a search in his room found nothing but requested him to follow them to the police station and he obliged. According to him on their way to the police station the police further received instructions on a Motorola to go back and do a thorough search. "The police went back and forced open suitcases, turned up clothes and even waste papers at the toilet were searched," he added. Nii Lantey said the police took away five passports belonging to four boxers who he was managing and that of his brother in law. He said he further wrote a statement to the police and was later escorted to the Labadi Police station but was granted bail. The case of Prosecution was that Fuseini was a friend to Nii Lantey. Mr Augustines 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 his residence. The Prosecution said Fuseini led the boys to the residence of Nii Lantey at H/No 583/3 in North Swalaba. Mr Obuor also said Nii Lantey told the boys he wanted them to help him in the photo exercise and gave them registration slips thumb printed with different names.

Fuseini later sent the slips away but some of the recruited boys protested. Prosecution said other recruited boys, however, went to the Korlewokor polling station and took their photographs and returned to Nii Lantey's residence.

Nii Lantey in his appreciation offered them 100,000 cedis. Prosecution said two of the boys disclosed this to the Member of Parliament for Odododiodoo Constituency and he also reported the matter to the Police. Hearing continues on November 1.

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