THREE MEMBERS of rival vigilante groups arrested in connection with the violent clashes that occurred at the National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s National Youth and Women’s Congress at Cape Coast in the Central Region, were yesterday granted a bail of GH¢50,000 each by an Accra Circuit Court.
The three, Abdul Halid Shaibu alias Olu, Razak Ibrahim alias Oga and Dauda Mohammed Nazir, per the bail terms are to provide two sureties who are public servants earning not less than GH¢2,000 every month and staying within the court’s jurisdiction.
They are also to report to the police investigating the case every Monday and Friday until further directions are given.
The three are among about 16 suspects being pursued by police and have been charged with the offence of undertaking vigilantism contrary to Section 3(3) and 3(5) of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act 2019, (Act 999).
They were granted bail after their respective lawyers took turn to ask the court to admit them to bail pending the trial.
Earlier, the court retook the plea of Dauda Mohammed Nazir, who had pleaded guilty to one count of prohibition of vigilante groups and related activities and not guilty to three counts relating to vigilantism on January 10, 2023.
The court had adjourned the case to yesterday to sentence the accused but his lawyer, Beatrice Annanfio, pleaded with the court to retake the plea of the accused as he did not fully understand the meaning and consequence of pleading guilty simpliciter.
She said the court clerk who read the charges to the accused in Hausa is not a court certified interpreter, neither is Hausa his native language, hence could not properly explain the meaning of guilty plea to the accused.
“From our conference with our client, his understanding was that, was he at the conference, and he said yes, and not he being guilty to the offence. He was also not given right to counsel by the prosecution, and before the court he was not represented,” Ms. Annanfio added.
The application was opposed by DSP Sylvester Asare, who argued that the court had no jurisdiction to reverse the decision as it a sin against Section 199 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
The court, presided over by His Honour Samuel Bright Acquah, admitted that it erred by not letting the accused know his right.
He said the court should have found out from him if he intended to proceed without counsel, and the court cannot tell if the clerk understood Hausa language well enough to explain the guilty plea to the accused person.
“The court erred and if the court erred does it have the right to correct that? Yes. Trial ends at sentencing, not conviction. Prosecution does not lose anything,” the court held.
The court, therefore, set aside its proceedings of January 10, 2023, and the plea of the accused was retaken. He pleaded not guilty to all four counts. The case adjourned to February 15.
Court documents indicate that Abdul Halid Shaibu and Razak Ibrahim together with others currently on the run were working “for and in furtherance of their own interest and that of George Opare Addo @ Pablo as the National Youth Organiser of the NDC.”
The documents further state that Dauda Mohammed Nazir together with other suspects who belonged to a rival vigilante group were working for the NDC’s Women Organiser, Hannah Bissiw and Brogya Gyenfi, who lost the National Youth Organiser contest.
George Opare Addo, the National Youth Organiser of the NDC, and Brogya Gyenfi were both in court to lend support to the accused persons.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak