How accused-turned-lawyers grilled prosecution witness in court

It was two hours of tension for a prosecution witness who was submitting her evidence in the case in which four people are standing trial for robbery.

The witness, Mrs Nkansah, who happens to be the wife of the complainant faced a grueling examination from the accused persons.

The four accused persons who were without any legal representation went on a banter with the witness in English. The witness, however, chose to speak in Twi.

It was interesting to see ‘suspected criminals’ using the legal terminologies (I put it to you, you are not being truthful to the court) in the bid to discredit the witness.

Daniel Akpan, Ishmael Akyene, Bassey Okon Edet and Asuquo Mbuotidem Edem did not look like your typical robbers — they were neatly dressed and courteous.

The four who have been in custody for over a year have been slapped with seven counts.

They are conspiracy to commit crime, robbery, conspiracy to crime namely unlawful entry, unlawful entry, conspiracy to commit crime with possessing instrument intended or adapted for unlawful entry, possessing instrument intended or adapted for unlawful entry and possession of firearms without lawful authority.

During the examination, the accused persons, who tried to discredit the witness asked her what time the incident occurred.

According to the witness, the robbery happened exactly at 2:00 am on Tuesday.

But one of the accused persons disagreed. With the witness’ statement in hand, the fourth accused person Mbuotidem Edem pointed to the time captured in her statement as 12:00 am, which was contrary to what she was telling the court.

The accused person argued that it was due to her inconsistency and attempt to lie to the court, that the time captured and the time stated on Friday varied.

The witness at this point was lost for words.

The judge Evelyn Asamoah was unsympathetic and directed the witness to answer the question.

Mrs Kennedy Nkansah insisted that it might have been a mistake from the police.

Here are excerpts of the exchanges by the four accused persons who took turns to examine the wife of the complainant Kennedy Nkansah. [AP represent accused persons and KN represent Mrs Kennedy Nkansah]

AP: What brought you here?

KN: I am here because of the robbery case

AP: What day, month and time did this alleged robbery happen?

KN: It was on February, 26, 2019 at 12:00 am.

AP: You stated in your witness statement that I have before me that the incident happened at 12:00am. How come you are now saying 2:00 am?

KN: Please, I wrote 2:00 am, I don’t know why it was captured as 12:00 am

AP: Okay, so Mrs Kennedy, as you have just stated that it was 2:00am, was it in the morning or afternoon?

KN: It happened at dawn

AP: My Lord, she is lying before this honourable court?

KN: My Lord, I am telling the truth

AP: So, when we came to your house, what happened?

KN: My Lord, they stole my items

AP: If you claim your items were stolen, what and what did they take?

KN: My kente, lace cloth, jewelry, money and phones.

AP: Were these the only items that were stolen from your house?

KN: The house is big and these are all the items I can recollect. The ones, I realised was lost were the ones in my room.

AP: In your statement, you also said three gold watches and chain were missing, is that so?

KN: Yes, please

AP: You claim you had money in the house which was stolen, how much was stolen from your house?

KN: An amount of GH₵3,500 and my husband’s money as well.

AP: You also said, you were covered with bedsheets. When you were covered with the bedsheets, what happened next?

KN: After we were covered with the bedsheet, I saw that two of you standing there searching (pointing at the accused person who was asking the questions and another one seated behind him).

AP: What happened next when the other accused person asked you for a key?

KN: I only heard that someone was trying to destroy the lock to my daughter’s room, and that is when I asked them not to destroy the lock but just use the key.

AP: Were you the only person in the room?

KN: I was in the room with my husband

AP: What happened to your husband’s car?

KN: I remember they were standing by the car

AP: Was the car being stolen or destroyed?

KN: Nothing happened to the car

AP: Mrs Kennedy, I don’t know you and I have never been to your house?

KN: I know you and you have come to rob me

According to the facts of the case presented by Chief Inspector Simon Apiosornu, the complainant, Kennedy Nkansah is a businessman and a resident of Pobiman near Amasaman, Accra.

The first accused person Daniel Akpan is a driver; the second accused person, Ismael Akyene, is also a driver and a resident at Kasoa; the third accused person, Bassey Okon Edet, is a self-acclaimed businessman, while fourth accused person Asuquou Mbuotidem Edem is also a driver.

Apart from Akyene the second accused person who is a Ghanaian, the three are Nigerians.

On February 26, 2019, at about 2:20 am, while the complainant was asleep with his family, he heard noises from his electric fence alarm system.

Chief Inspector Apiosornu said the complainant thought the noises he heard was because the alarm had developed some faults.

But he later saw a flashlight under his bedroom door and when he opened the door to check, he saw the accused persons.

The prosecutor said Mbuotidem Edem pointed a pistol at him, while Akpan and Akyene were wielding cutlasses and a self-designed metal bar respectively.

Mbuotidem Edem then armed with a pistol, “marched the complainant to his bedroom and both Akpan and Akyene armed with a cutlass and self-designed metal bar brought the complainant’s younger brother, Osei Tawiah Bruce, to join him and the wife sleeping on the bed in a prostrate position while his two children were locked up in one of the rooms.”

The accused persons covered them with bedsheets and cloths and ransacked the room while Okon Edet was placed in the yard with the cutlass monitoring.

Akyene took six Samsung mobile phones and one iPhone 6 valued GH₵4,500.00 and Mbuotidem Edem forcibly removed the complainant and his wife’s wedding rings from their fingers.

Mbuotidem Edem also took a set of new wedding rings which the complainant intended to use in replacing their old rings valued at GH₵9,600.00.

According to the prosecution, Akpan and Mbuotidem Edem also took a set of jewellery valued at GH₵15, 000.00, two half pieces of Hollandaise all valued GH₵2,860, a laptop valued at GH₵2,500.00 and an unspecified amount of money,  and cash of GH₵18,000.00 and $3,000.00 respectively.

The accused persons, when leaving the scene, fired shots to scare people. After their ordeal, the complainant reported the case to the police and the accused persons were arrested in their hideout.

In the course of the investigation, the accused persons admitted the offence.

They further revealed that they kept the guns and other implements used in committing the various robberies at a refuse dump in a bush along the Haasto-Agbogba road.

The accused person subsequently led police to a nearby bush at TF hostel, North Legon, Accra where three pistols, an industrial cutter, self-designed metal bar and two cutlasses used in their robberies were retrieved.

On August 21, this year, Mbuotidem Edem, who was at large was arrested from his hideout in Nigeria with the assistance of Interpol and extradited to Ghana.

After the investigations, the accused persons were charged with the offence.

The case continues on November 16, 2020.

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