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‘We’ll beat you up’ – Lawyer reveals threat against accused in Canadian girls case

Counsel for the first accused person in the Canadian girls kidnapping case has accused the police of threatening to beat up his client.

“We will beat you [first accused Sampson Agharlor] together with your lawyer, ” Victor Atsu Abada told the Accra High Court on Monday, July 26.

According to the lawyer, this was the response the police gave when the first accused said he was not ready to give his statement.

Mr Abada insisted that police investigators had tortured the accused person during interrogation.

Again, counsel claimed the accused was denied the right to call his lawyer since his phone was seized from him.

But the prosecution witness Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah who was the investigator in the case said the lawyer’s narration of happenings were not true.

He said the police would have assisted the accused to contact his lawyer or seek legal assistance if he had demanded.

The chief inspector who works at the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) insisted that the accused had given his statement willingly, and not pressured by anyone to do so.

The caution statements were taken from all four accused persons on June 12 and June 13, 2019, respectively.

Another subject of controversy was when the police investigator indicated that the accused persons had opted to make use of the thumb pad instead of signing.

Counsel wondered why all four accused persons would want to thumbprint when he (police investigator) had mentioned that the first accused was computer literate.

Here are excerpts of the exchanges between counsel for first accused Victor Atsu Abada (VAA) and the witness Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah (MN).

VAA: You claim you obtained the signature of the accused persons after it was read to them?

MN: That’s not what I said. I said after it was read, the accused persons thumb printed and not signed.

VAA: You said the accused persons spoke English. Is it the case the accused was not allowed to write his statement?

MN: My Lady, I asked the accused to write his own statement and he said I should write it for him and as an investigator, I had to do so.

VAA: How long were the accused in your custody?

MN: Accused were brought on June 12, 2019, and some of the accused persons’ statements were taken that very day and others were taken the following day so depending on the date captured.

VAA: What physical state was the first accused person when you took his statement?

MN: The accused person was fit and strong and acted normal when I took the statement

VAA: You mean you did not observe any physical injury?

MN: My Lord, I cannot remember seeing any physical injuries on the accused person

VAA: You wrote in your description of the first accused as computer inclined. I am putting it to you that you declined to let the accused write his own statement?

MN: That is not correct, my Lord.

VAA: You will agree with me that the statement obtained from the accused was not signed?

MN: It was not signed but thumb printed

VAA: I am putting it to you that statements obtained from the accused person ought to be signed by him?

MN: The accused person can either sign or thumbprint and in this case, he thumbprinted

VAA: You will agree with me that somebody who calls himself Computer Engineer can easily sign his signature

MN: He can but in this case, he thumbprinted

VAA: I am putting it to you that you denied the accused person the right to sign against a statement

MN: He decided to thumbprint instead of signing

The case continues on July 27, 2021, for cross-examination by counsel for the three other accused persons Yaw Dankwa.

Background

Four accused persons – Sampson Agharlor, Elvis Ojiyorwe, Jeff Omarsar and Yusif Yakubu – stand trial for conspiracy charges to kidnap and kidnap.

They have all pleaded not guilty.

The four are being held for their various roles in kidnapping Miss Lauren Patricia Catherine Tiley and Miss Bailey Jordan Chilley.

The Canadian girls who were kidnapped in Kumasi

The two University of New Brunswick students were abducted on June 4, 2019, while volunteering for a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Kumasi.

They were rescued that same month, which led to the arrest of the suspects.

According to a news release from the Ghana Police Service, the two are believed to have been abducted at the Kumasi Royal Golf Club at about 8:25 pm.

Medical reports confirmed the girls were returned physically unhurt.

Facts of the case

Prosecution said the first accused person Aghalor who had been in Ghana for some time became a friend to Yakubu in March 2019.

In the course of their friendship, the first accused brought up the idea of kidnapping as a lucrative venture, an idea later accepted by Yakubu.

Yakubu is said to have agreed to assist Aghalor in the kidnapping and even helped procure a pistol for the task ahead.

To help with the plan, Agharlor went to Nigeria in May 2019 and recruited the two other accused persons — Elvis Ojiyorwe and Jeff Omarsar.

The three Nigerians, upon their arrival in Ghana, resided at Ashaiman for some time before they went to Kumasi to meet Yakubu.

When they got to Kumasi the first accused gave some money to Yakubu to hire a car, an apartment, buy pistols and other items to enable them put their plan in motion.

Prosecution said on June 4, 2019, the accused persons who were in a car, accosted the two Canadian girls, who had boarded an Uber taxi at their hostel at Nhyiaeso, a suburb of Kumasi.

The four accused persons are said to have assaulted and forced the girls into their vehicle amid shooting.

They then sped off with their victims to their hideout, which was an uncompleted building at Kenyasi Krobo, another suburb of Kumasi.

After successfully executing their plan, the first accused who is the mastermind of the plot contacted the families of the kidnapped girls and demanded $800,000.

Luck, however, run out when a National Security team, led by Colonel Micheal Opoku, acting on intelligence and arrested Yakubu on June 11, 2019.

The team proceeded to arrest Aghalor, Ojiyorwe and Omarsar at their hideout at Kenyasi Krobo and rescued the two girls.

“During the rescue mission, Ojiyorwe and Omarsar threatened to kill the victims if the security agents dared them. They exchanged fire with the security agents until they were overpowered and arrested,” the prosecution added.

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