A canoe operator in the Chereponi District of the Northern Region, Dramani Kwaku has been fined Ghc 12,000 or in default, face 4 years imprisonment by the Yendi Circuit court.
The convict failed to comply with the new law on imposition of restrictions as stipulated in paragraph 1(1)b of the Executive Instrument 64 of Act 2020 (1012).
According to prosecution, Dramani was using his canoe to transport passengers to and from Ghana across the Oti river using unapproved routes despite the closure of the country’s borders.
The Chereponi area is bordered on the east by Togo.
Presenting the facts of the case, the prosecutor, Inspector Joseph Danso told the court that, on the 2nd of April 2020, said “some police officers from the Formed Police Unit under ‘Conquer first’ in the Chereponi district decided to patrol the banks of Oti river where most people cross in and out of Ghana as unapproved routes arrested the victim who was transporting passengers across the river using canoe into Ghana. He was arrested and upon interrogation, he admitted the offence and was charged with the offence”.
The convict pleaded guilty in court and asked for mercy, indicating that he was not aware of the directive against the movement of people in or out of the country.
But in delivering his judgement, His Honour, Anthony Aduko Aidoo convicted the accused on his own guilty plea saying “the accused person is a first-time offender and under this new law, Act 1012, the accused is hereby sentenced to a fine of 1000 penalty units equivalent to GHS12,000. In default, the accused shall serve 4 years with hard labour in a prison sentence as the law stipulates”.
He can’t pay
Family members of the victim who accompanied him to the court described the fine as too harsh.
They told Citi News that looking at the state of the man, even if he is given five years to pay the fine, he will be unable to pay the amount.
A brother of the convict, John Akor Kofi said, “the judgement appears so harsh because giving his age and the work he does, even if you give him 5 years, he won’t be able to raise GHS12,000.”
No idea about new law
Tahidu Mohammed, an Assemblyman in the area said the convict is innocent.
He said the convict had no idea about the new law.
“Even though we disagree with the judgement, we have nothing but to plead. The fact still remains that this is an innocent person that has been fined such an amount, GHS12,000. In the community he is from, the sensitization hasn’t reached them. We are trying to reach all the people in the district, we hadn’t reached there before the unfortunate happened,” he said.
In March 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo issued an Executive Instrument 64 of Act 2020 (1012) closing all territorial borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, some persons continue to attempt coming into the country illegally through unapproved routes.
Security officials who have been tasked to enforce the law have had the cause to complain that some locals in Ghana assist foreigners to enter the country illegally through unapproved routes.