Thirty-one prisoners granted bail
Winneba (C/R) June 10, GNA - Thirty-One Prisoners remanded for years at the Winneba Prison and Ankaful Prison Annex in the Central Region, were on Friday granted bail after three courts had heard their cases under the 'Justice for All' programme.
Out of the 26 cases heard at the Winneba Prison, 18 applicants were granted bail, four were refused bail application, two convicted by other courts, one discharged unconditionally and one struck out.
At the Ankaful Annex Prison, out of the 19 cases reviewed, 13 applicants were granted bail, two refused bail application, two cases struck out, one discharged unconditionally and one convicted but bonded.
The suspects have spent from four to six years and months on remand for various crimes, including murder, armed robbery, stealing, rape, defilement, fraud, and drug-related cases.
The three courts were presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, Court of Appeal Judge and Chairman of the Justice for all programme, Justice Kwasi Dappah, a High Court Judge and Justice Emmanuel Lodoh, a High Court Judge.
The 'Justice for All' was initiated by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the Ghana Prisons Service to ensure that justice is provided for every citizen, irrespective of one's background and help decongest the prisons.
Mr Rashid Sani represented one of the counsels for the applicants while Ms Betty Dankwa Smith and Ms Nana Ayisha Salifu represented one of the other state Attorneys.
The project was instituted by Chief Justice Theodora Wood in 2007 with a the joint effort of the Attorney-General's Department, the Judiciary, Ghana Bar Association, Ghana Prisons Service, STAR-Ghana, POS Foundation, an NGO and other Human Rights Organisations to decongest and ease pressure on the country's prisons.
Justice Honyenuga, speaking to the press after the sitting, expressed satisfaction about the exercise.
'There has been an improvement in the exercise, because in the last two years, there were 42 number of cases and this year it has reduced to 26 cases,' he said.
He said under the programme if a remand prisoner was in custody for more than two years without trial, that person was entitled to be granted bail, explaining that Mr Kwasi Ofori, charged for Murder was discharged unconditionally at the Winneba Prison because he was in unlawful custody for more than six years without trial.
Justice Honyenuga expressed worry about the absence of a remand prisoner who was taken away in the morning at the Ankaful Prison by the police and described as the matter as serious and called for an investigation to ascertain the reason behind his absent.
'I remember last year we had similar problem where six remand prisoners were taken away in the morning when the sitting was to take place and we suspect that there a foul play, that matter was investigated and the result was not good for the police officers involved.
'We will investigate the issue because we think it is a ploy masterminded by the police officers to dodge the sitting and take undue advantage to lure them to pay money for their release', he added.
He said the justice for all programme was 10 years and therefore dedicated the occasion to Madam Georgina Theodora Wood, the immediate Chief Justice.
Chief Superintendent of Prison Augustine Bopam, Acting Officer In-charge of Prison in charge of the Winneba Prison said the Prison had a total of 209 inmates, out of which 39 were remand prisoners.
He commended the authorities for the exercise since it would help reduce congestion in the prison services.
Mr Ofori, who was discharged unconditionally thank God for the grace bestowed on him to be released saying: ' I promise never to indulge in any activity that will bring me back to the prison since I am a change person, I will be very careful with my life because staying in prison remand for six years was not a joke.'
Mr Ofori is 61 years and a farmer by profession.
By Kodjo Adams, GNA