A Hollywood-Style jail break was yesterday staged at the cells of the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal, leading to the escape of six suspects on remand. One of them was, however, re-arrested.
The five who are still at large are drug suspects.
They are Eric Bizimana, 23, a Rwandan, Afenou Nestor, 30, a Togolese with French passport, Samuel Agyekum, 23, a Ghanaian, Richmond Jason, also known as Gariba, 23, a Ghanaian naturalised Canadian, and Osumanu Moutawaklou, 37, a Beninois with Ducth passport.
Eyewitnesses described the incident as having been masterminded by a close associate of the suspects and executed at about 12 noon.
Kofi Tawiah was identified as the unfortunate suspect who was re-arrested after being shot in the right thigh. His case was not narcotic-related but he wanted to take advantage of the situation to escape.
He was said to have been arrested by those who pursued the jail breakers, including General Constable Iddis Abass, and brought back to the cells.
Explaining how the incident occurred, Nii Akwei Papafio, an official of the Judicial Service, said at about 12 noon yesterday, a lady in jeans who had gone to buy bread for the inmates of the cells asked the policeman on duty to open the gate to facilitate the delivery of the bread.
According to him, as the policeman opened the door, the suspects pushed the gate and hit the policeman on the head, dazing him in the process, before escaping.
But other unconfirmed reports had it that it was the lady who concealed the pistol in the bread she sent to the inmates. She vanished in the ensuing commotion.
He said when people later realised what had happened and shouted for assistance, the suspects were within the walls of the court and had begun to scale the walls.
“I saw one man in red shirt who I wanted to grab but when he pulled a pistol, I mistook him for one of the policemen in plain clothes. He intimidated me with his physique and the weapon,” Nii Papafio said.
The Daily Graphic later learnt that although some of the fugitives had been granted bail in the cases in which they were involved, they had not yet met the bail conditions and, for that matter, they were still on remand.
The Narcotics Control Board NACOB confirmed the story and explained the five fugitives were among 25 suspects who were sent to the court yesterday for various offences.
According to other eyewitnesses, the policeman on duty had his head hit against the metal gate of the cells, as a result of which he fell unconscious and was rushed to the hospital.
At least one of the escapees was spotted by some eyewitnesses wielding a pistol, while others who lived outside the court premises said they saw some of the suspects fleeing on a motorbike.
Executive Secretary of NACOB, Colonel Isaac K. Akuoko (retd) told Daily Graphic that Bisimana and Nestor were respectively arrested on August 22 and June 21, 2005, having swallowed 22 and 80 pellets of cocaine while Jason was arrested on February 8, 2005 for concealing 1.19 kilograms of heroine in his shoes.
He said Agyekum was also arrested on May 30, 2005 for concealing 770 gramms of cocaine in his shoes while Osumanou who swallowed 15 pellets of cocaine was arrested on May 14, 2005.
According to Col Akuoko, both Jason and Agyekum had been granted bail by the court but they were unable to meet the bail conditions while they were also to open their defences.
For the rest of the escapees, he said, the docket on their cases had been sent to the Attorney-General's Office for advice.
He said the incident would be thoroughly investigated and appealed to the public to assist the security agencies to arrest the escapees.
Story by Stephen Sah