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Judge steps aside over NACOB contempt case

Judges outside Westminster Abbey, rear view

Judges

Justice J K Dorgu, an Accra high court (Criminal Division) judge, has recused himself from hearing the contempt of court proceedings initiated against Akrasi Sarpong, Executive Secretary of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB).

In the view of the judge, he was not sure he would be “unbiased,” particularly when his granting of bail to one Chief Sunny Ikechukwu Benjy Eke, 53, a businessman and his alleged accomplice, James Eleke Chukwu, 47, a second-hand clothes dealer, in a narcotic case, had been questioned.

He said the decision to recuse himself from the case follows the recent Montie FM contempt suit in which the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood and Justice Sulley Gbadegbe – to whom some of the contemptuous comments were directed – stepped aside from hearing the case.

New Judge

He said his name and his court were mentioned in a story in the June 20, 2016 edition of Daily Graphic which questioned his discretion over the bail granted the accused persons.

Justice Dorgu was emphatic that the case (contempt application) would be reverted to the court manager for reassignment to another court.

Chief Eke had been on remand at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons since 2013 for allegedly attempting to smuggle 281,604 grams of liquid cocaine, with a street value of over $12.5 million, into the country.

The drug was a

llegedly concealed in a 40-footer container filled with 1,946 boxes of shampoo imported from Bolivia in South America.

The two were admitted to bail in the sum of GHC200,000, with three sureties each on June 13, this year.

NACOB Fires

But Mr. Sarpong, unsatisfied with the bail, is quoted as having said that the terms for the bail were very unfortunate because Chief Eke is known to have jumped bail in Brazil; and all the international drug agencies were trailing him but could not arrest him until he was arrested in Ghana.

Mr. Sarpong argued that the judge, in using his discretion as required by law, should have considered the past record of the suspect, which was public knowledge.

The NACOB boss said the fight against trans-national organised crime is not for the security agencies alone, but the whole justice delivery system in the country.

He warned that if the suspect escaped, nobody should blame NACOB because the board would use meagre state resources to monitor him (suspect) as “he walks free on the streets of Accra, a situation which he could take advantage of to escape again.”

He said while the judiciary upheld the 1992 Constitution and the rule of law, there was the need to understand that the characters involved in trans-national organised crime, such as Chief Eke, could undermine democracy, promote impunity of the private sector against the public sector, engender corruption both in the public and the private sectors, as well as give cause for the rise of fake and wrong role models.

“For NACOB, the condition under which the accused was granted bail was not the best, judging from his past record of jumping bail. Besides, we are aware that the wheel of justice is a slow process, but no matter how slow it is, justice is more likely to prevail than injustice,” he said.

Contempt

However, lawyers for the suspects – Augustines Obour and K. K Amoah, urged the court to convict the NACOB boss, who was in court yesterday for contempt.
Obour wondered if Mary Mensah, the author of the said article, had been served to appear before the court for contempt.

It said it was necessary Mr. Sarpong be dragged before the court to purge himself of the charge.

Source: dailyguideafrica.com

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