|Audio Attachment:Listen to the verbal altercation between Kwesi Pratt and Yaw Buabeng Asamoah on PeaceFM.|
The intellectual discourse on Friday’s edition of Peace FM’s flagship programme, “Kokrokoo”, turned dramatic when a verbal altercation ensued between Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr., and a member of the Communication Team of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Yaw Buabeng Asamoah.
The heated shouting match erupted after the NPP activist, who is also a legal practitioner, had shared his thoughts on the drama that unfolded at the Osu Magistrate Court precincts on Thursday involving security operatives from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), and the trial judge, Her Worship Justice Ellen Anokye, over the custody of three men, Daniel Djabaah, Eric Owusu Manu and Frank Bruno Pappoe arrested for narcotic-related offences.
Operatives of the BNI stormed the precincts of the Osu Magistrate court in an attempt to re-arrest the three suspects standing trial for narcotic-related offences after Justice Ellen Anokye had granted them bail in the sum of GH¢10,000 each with a surety.
The suspects were last week granted GH¢10,000 bail each with a surety by the court but could not fulfill the bail conditions until Thursday.
A scuffle ensued and it degenerated as the BNI tried to re-arrest the suspects when the judge who was sitting on other cases rushed out to order them to halt the arrests in the court premises.
The BNI then allegedly seized the mobile phone of a driver of a lawyer who was trying to film the incident and in the process, the phone was smashed while a BMW saloon car belonging to one of the defense counsel was also damaged.
As the suspects retreated to the court premises, the BNI pursued them and in the process, one of the BNI drivers was said to have been detained on the orders of the judge.
Justice Ellen Anokye prevented the BNI operatives from carrying out their intentions until Chief Justice Georgina Wood advised her to release the suspects into the custody of the police led by the Accra Regional Police Commander, DCOP Rose Bio Atinga and a team of policemen called in to maintain law and order, following the brouhaha.
Mr. Buabeng Asamoah had questioned the actions of the BNI, saying the BNI had the chance to oppose the bail granted the suspects by the court but chose to rather use brutal force to have their way. To him, the BNI undermined the authority of the court by trying to re-arrest the suspects on the same offence, after they had been granted bail by the court and expressed disgust at their action.
“If you think the court was wrong in granting bail, you do not take the law into your own hands. You undermine the court’s authority. If you think the court made a mistake in law by granting bail, you take steps within the bounds of the law to have that decision set aside,” he said.
He argued that if the BNI believed it had fresh evidence against the suspects, they should have gone to court and introduced it through due process. He maintained that even though suspects in drug-related offences and cases of murder are not liable to bail, a judge can grant bail if the charges leveled against the suspects are not substantial enough.
“If you, an authority, decide the court is wrong and so you are going to take the law into your own hands by teaching the court the law, that is unacceptable,” he added.
But the Insight Managing Editor, sharply disagreed with Mr. Buabeng’s analysis, questioning his status as a lawyer. According to Mr. Pratt, it is inconceivable for someone who sees himself as a lawyer to advance such arguments, adding that even a first year law student knows that suspects in drug-related cases are not liable to bail terms.
With deep sarcasm, he asked “are you not supposed to be a lawyer?”
“Don’t you know that there are certain offences when you commit, you cannot be granted bail even when investigations have not been completed? I guess as a lawyer you know that, so under what circumstance can you put forward such an argument that there was no prima facie? I don’t expect a lawyer to talk like the way you just did,” he said.
However, YB, as the NPP stalwart is affectionately called, did not take kindly to Mr Pratt’s comment and insisted that he (Pratt) withdraws that particular phrase which he claims sought to question his integrity as a lawyer.
“Yes indeed, I am a lawyer… I’ve fourteen years standing at the Bar (Ghana Bar Association) so you don’t have to use the phrase “supposed to be”. It appears you are questioning my integrity as a lawyer so better withdraw your statement. I never said there was no prima facie besides I have not gone into the merits of the case. All what I said was that the suspects were with the BNI even after been granted bail so the BNI could have gone to court to appeal the bail than use force. You are accusing me of things I have not said and you are questioning my integrity as a lawyer. I am a lawyer...I won’t take that from you,” he retorted.
A heated shouting match then ensued with none of the “combatants” prepared to give a quarter.
Just as the war of words reached its apex, host of the show, Kwami Sefa Kayi, took both gentlemen off-air (though their verbal altercation could still be heard in the background) and introduced another member of the panel, Randy Abbey, host of Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana programme to share his views on the topic under discussion.
Meanwhile, peacefmonline.com is reliably informed that the suspects were kept in police custody overnight at the Accra Central Police Station. Barely 24 hours after the fiasco, lawyers for the suspects brought contempt charges against the BNI for disregarding the court’s order.
In a related development, Deputy Attorney-General, Ebo Barton-Odro, says government was discontinuing the case for now and the state has filed a nolle prosequi at the same court.
“It is not over, but our reputation is at stake,” he told the media on Friday.
Source: Beatrice Adepa Frempong/Peacefmonline.com
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