Keta residents protest over bail for murder suspects

Chief Justice Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood'

Chief Justice Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood’

Some residents of the Keta municipality in the Volta Region, have expressed their outrage at the Justice For All Committee for granting bail to some murder suspects from the area, on remand at the Ho Prison.

According to them, granting such dangerous people bail, would not only spell doom for the area but also thwart the effort of the police to unravel the mystery surrounding the frequent murders there.

The area has for the past four years, recorded about 20 murder cases and has over 30 suspects in prison custody, in connection with them.

Even though the police claim they have since submitted dockets on all the cases to the Attorney-General’s Department at Ho for advice, they are yet to receive bills of indictments, to start communal proceedings against them.

This situation left the suspects in a limbo, as the police had to shuttle between the Ho Prison and the Anloga Magistrate Court every fortnight, with them.

The suspects have thus been on remand forbetween one and four years, leading to the Justice For All Committee to grant them bail, while others were released unconditionally.

Out of the lot, only two of the suspects, Vincent Kwashivie Seanedzu, 21, a student, and a colleague, Kofi Awadewor, 27, a carpenter, from the area were convicted for murder and sentenced to three years in prison, attracting outcry from the community at the mild sentences.

Other suspects, Yaotse Agoha 30, Seth Ekuadzi (alias Blackie), 39, Michael Nunekpeku, 28 and Amekudzi Worlali, 35, who beat up a 51-year-old corn miller and later tied him to an electric pole to die, were also granted bail, a situation the residents described as outrageous.

According to them, the work of the committee was setting a very dangerous precedent that could give rise to instant justice, since aggrieved families of murder victims could not bear the sight of those who murdered their love ones.

“It is better to take the law into our hands, instead of allowing these heartless murderers to return to our community to mock at aggrieved families and the community”, they stressed.

They feared the recurrence of such acts at the least provocation because any one could kill the neighbour, only for the court to release him/her. They asked the committee to re-reconsider its stance towards such people.

“We are scared of reprisal attacks, the police are not with us in the communities, anything can happen,” they said”.

A police source which pleaded anonymity, told The Ghanaian Times, that the committee should have first consulted the Divisional Heads of the areas where the crimes were committed, before sitting on the cases.

According to them, the unilateral release of the murder suspects would make policing in such communities very difficult, because “even under the current situation, communities refuse to volunteer information leading to the arrest of members who commit heinous crimes, for fear of being attacked by close associates of the suspects”.

The Justice For All programme was initiated by the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, to ensure that justice is provided to every citizen, to help decongest the prisons.

In all, 71 cases were heard at Ho, with 26 applicants being cautioned and discharged. They were made to sign bonds to be of good behaviour.

Twenty-four of them were granted bail, while 24 others were refused bail.

They have been in prison custody for between six months and four years, for various crimes, including murder, rape, fraud and illegal possession of drugs.

By Lawrence Vomafa-Akpalu

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