Why lawyers are unhappy about discharge of three ‘secessionists’

Suspected secessionists being being led back after court proceedings

Three people who were part of the 27 accused secessionists charged for causing trouble in the Volta Region have regained their freedom. 

The prosecution on Monday told the Accra Circuit Court that after an extensive investigation, it wants the court to strike out the three names.

After almost five weeks behind bars, Bright Sosu, Desmond Sosu and Francis Kowodo were acquitted and discharged.

The prosecutor, ASP Slyvester Asare, did not give reasons for the decision.

“We have before you an amended charge sheet which we seek to withdraw the previous charge which had 27 accused persons but the amended filed today [Monday] has 24.

“In effect, we humbly ask the court to discharge the three accused persons. We want the others to be further remanded as investigations are ongoing,” ASP Asare told the court.

The three discharged persons were part of the 27 suspected secessionists who were earlier arraigned on charges, including treason and belonging to a prohibited group.

Lawyers of the other the accused persons, however, were dissatisfied and wanted to know the grounds on which the three were discharged.

According to them, all the accused persons were arrested at the same time and place hence, should be allowed to walk.

But the judge, Rosemond Baah Tosu, disagreed.

Accused persons being escorted back by police

“But you should know, it is possible for two people to be eating fufu from the same bowl but one person can commit a crime without the knowledge of the other,” the judge said.

The lawyers also reiterated the bail request for the 24 accused persons, who are currently before the court.

But the judge declined their request, and directed the lawyers to file its submissions and other concerns before the next adjourned date.

According to the judge, doing that would allow her enough time to study the submissions.

The lawyers for the 24 accused persons include Theophilus Donkor, George Asomani, Kingsley Kwesitsu, Bernard Dzinyela and Benson Dennis Seyram.

The case has been adjourned to November 23, 2020.

The court had earlier discharged 22 accused persons who were part of the 51 persons brought before the court for the same offence.

On September 25, hundreds of commuters on roads leading to the Volta and Oti regions, including Kpong-Akosombo, Juapong-Ho, Ho-Mepe, Sogakope-Accra were stranded.

The secessionist, said to belong to the Western Togoland Restoration group, blocked some of the roads with sand and set tyres ablaze while seizing the mobile phones of travellers who dared take shots of their activities.

They also overrun the Mepe and Aveyime police stations, released suspects in custody, locked up some police officers in the place of the suspects and also broke into the armoury of the Aveyime Police Station and made away with 10 AK 47s.

The Aveyime District Police Commander sustained injuries.

A joint team of the police and military were deployed in response. One person was shot dead while three others sustained injuries after the exchange of gunfire in the Sogakope area.

The police and military also claimed that they foiled attempts to burn down the Ho Central market and other key state installations in the region.

At least 57  suspects were arrested and flown to Accra where they were charged.

In the past, the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), a separatist group had announced a breakaway of parts of the Volta Region, Oti Region, Northern Region and Upper East as an independent state called Western Togoland.

Scores of people have been arrested since 2017 with the leader of another group leading the quest for independence Charles Kudzordzi, alias Papavi, arrested and later released while charges against him were dropped.

On August 24, members of one of three groups leading the quest for independence for the area held an open meeting where their leaders rambled about how people from the Volta Region were discriminated against and their nationality questioned.

But the current violent attacks were allegedly led by the Western Togoland Restoration Front, one of three groups leading a campaign for the independence of Western Togoland.

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