2 Ghanaians refused bail again in piracy case

An Accra Magistrates Court has for the second time, refused bail to the two Ghanaians allegedly involved in the GH¢762,692 piracy case involving eight Nigerians, arrested in January, this year.

The court, presided over by Efuah Sackey, directed counsel for the accused to apply for the bail at the High Court.

Lawyers for the accused had earlier challenged the charges preferred against their clients on the grounds that the charge of conspiracy to commit crime fell flat on the face of the facts.

George Opata Okrah, a freight forwarder and Joel Yaw Attah, a shipping agent, were remanded in police custody on March 5, for their alleged role in the piracy case.

The accused, together with their Nigerian accomplices, were charged with conspiracy to commit crime contrary to Section 23 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act 29 of 1960.

Okrah and Attah were said to have conspired with Captain Mike and Abaiyi, now on the run, with the assurance that Attah, the second accused, would be given US$ 75,000 for the use of M.T. INVICTUS, one of the vessels used in the deal.

Mobile phone conversations were alleged to have been made between Okrah and Mike, an assertion contended by Okrah’s counsel.

Mr. Odartey Mills accused the police of abusing the human rights of his client arguing that Okrah was arrested last week Wednesday, but the police failed to take him to court.

Others are Molih Williams, Molih Klinsman, Peggy Aki, Ebiyaibo Amos, David Jacobs, Ayetimili Onyile, Pinano Saniyo, and John Picolo.

At the last adjournment, a bail application by Mills, counsel for Okrah, was rejected as the court, presided over by   Mrs. Efua Sackey, held that the charge preferred against the accused was non-bailable, citing Section 97 of Act (30) of the Criminal Procedure to substantiate her refusal of the application.

The judge, however, ordered the police to grant the accused access to their lawyers twice a week between 9am and 12 noon.

The pirates were arrested on Saturday, January 19, in Ghana territorial waters 26 nautical miles South East of Tema waters, after they had hijacked the Nigerian vessel, Mr. Mariam, carrying about 1,500 tonnes of crude oil.

The vessel was travelling from Nigeria to Togo when it was attacked by the pirates.

Five of them were captured in the engine room, and the three others were arrested at the forecastle of the vessel.

Items found on them included AK-47 assault rifles, pump action gun, 10 loaded magazines, 1,270 dollars and Naira 43,850.

Other items were 18 mobile phones, a digital camera, a hair clipper, three hand held VHF radio, seven wrist-watches and other personal belongings.

Their arrest followed a tip-off to a Ghana naval ship from the Eastern Naval Command, which was on patrol, that a ship owner had reported the hijacking of his ship carrying oil.

The naval ship proceeded to the location, caught up with the hijacked vessel and the pirates were arrested at 3 p.m. that day.

By Malik Sullemana    

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