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16.11.2004 Crime & Punishment

Alleged saboteur refused bail

By GNA

Accra, Nov. 16, GNA - A Circuit in Accra on Tuesday refused to grant bail to Nicolas Owuoba, an Ex- Serviceman, who was arrested for allegedly plotting with seven others to destabilise the country. After listening to submissions of the Prosecution and Defence, the Court ruled that it was premature to grant bail to the accused person. Owuoba, now a Businessman, is standing trial for possessing firearms without lawful authority and buying military accoutrements without authority.

The plea of Owuoba, alias Nic, was not taken and Court presided over by Mr Nathaniel E. K. Osam remanded him to reappear on November 23. The Court in refusing Owuoba bail noted that the offences levelled against Owuoba were serious and the Security Agencies must be allowed to do their work, saying that the one week that the accused person had been on remand could not be said to be an unreasonable delay.

It further ruled that the Defence must be given access to their client.

Mr Prosper Nyahe, who led three other Counsel for the accused person, pleaded with the Court to reject the Prosecution's "hallelujah chorus" that they were still investigating the matter as the accused person had been with the Security Agencies since November 6.

Mr Nyahe said the charge brought against Owuoba did not fall under the offences under which bail should be refused.

He said it was not strange for Owuoba to have in his possession military accoutrement because he was an Ex-Serviceman. "We are all aware that even ordinary persons are in possession of military uniforms." Mr Nyahe denied the charges brought against Owuoba and challenged the Prosecution to produce documentary proof that his client went to purchase those accoutrements.

He complained that they did not have access to their client and prayed the Court to make orders to ensure that they were given access. Mr Augustine Obuor, Assistant State Attorney, told the Court that there had been some revelations that Owuoba had gone somewhere to make enquiries about some weapons and he was assisting in that direction. Mr Obuor said he was still building the accused person's docket and needed more time.

He urged the Court to reject the bail application of the accused since "this is the second time that accused person is appearing in court".

The case as presented by the Prosecution is that on November 5, intelligence information indicated that a group of persons was preparing to disturb the peace and democratic process.

A combined team from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service mounted an exercise and rounded up the alleged members of the group.

The Prosecution said during the exercise, seven persons, including the accused person, were arrested. When the accused person's premise was searched, military accoutrements in a military bag, including one "Makorov" pistol and 18 rounds of 9mm rounds of ammunition were found in his bedroom.

A wooden box was also found on Owuoba's corridor.

The Prosecution said Owuoba bought a set of camouflage military uniform, a pair of military boots, one military helmet, one set military body pack, two military caps, two military raincoats, one military water bottle, one military shovel, three military waist belts, one lanyard (operations) and one lanyard (64 BN) without authorisation.

A press release from the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police signed by its Director David Asante-Apeatu, on November 6 2004 said: "The Security Agencies have confirmed persons are being questioned in connection with conspiracy to subvert the democratic government and perpetuate certain terrorist's actions.

"They are presently being questioned and appropriate legal advice will be sought when necessary to determine their appearance before the Court of Law.

"Meanwhile the security agencies wish to assure the general public that they have monitored the threat and have always taken the appropriate action to ensure that the Constitution is protected. "Presently investigations are on-going to ascertain the full extent of the conspiracy and if necessary certain persons will be invited for interview and interrogation."

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