The National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, has pleaded not guilty to charges levelled against him in relation to a purported leaked tape in which he was alleged to have incited members of the party to cause violence.
His counsel, Mr Tony Lithur, also told the Accra High Court that his client would mount a spirited defence to protect his fundamental human rights, including seeking a constitutional interpretation on his right to privacy.
“He intends to vigorously defend his fundamental human rights,” Mr Lithur said.
Ampofo and the Deputy Communications Director of the NDC, Anthony Kwaku Boahen, were dragged to court by the Attorney-General (A-G) for allegedly inciting violence against the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Mensa, and the Chairman of the National Peace Council (NPC), the Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante.
It is the case of the A-G that the said act was committed during a meeting Ampofo had with NDC communicators on February 3, 2019, just after the by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency which was marred by violence.
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Standing in the courtroom, which was packed with bigwigs of the NDC, including former President John Dramani Mahama, Ampofo and Boahen pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to cause harm. Ampofo separately pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault on a public officer.
Following a bail application made by their respective counsel, Ampofo and Boahen were each granted bail in the sum of GH¢100,000, with one surety, by the court, presided over by Justice Samuel Asiedu.
Making a case for bail, Mr Lithur argued that the case was an abuse of the prosecutorial powers of the A-G, and, therefore, there was no basis for the legal action against his client.
He prayed the court to admit Ampofo to bail on the basis that he was not a flight risk but would always make himself available to answer to the charges levelled against him.
“He is the Chairman of the biggest opposition party in the country, the election season is heating up and he will be required to be in the country. He will, therefore, be available anytime he is required to attend court,” Mr Lithur submitted.
Counsel for Boahen, Dr Abdul Basit Bamba, on the other hand, described the charges as frivolous and vexatious, with no basis in fact and law.
According to him, his client had an alibi to prove that he was not at the said meeting where the A-G claimed the comments inciting the party communicators were made.
He further prayed the court to admit his client to bail because he was a public figure and was also not a flight risk.
The A-G, Ms Gloria Akuffo, did not oppose the bail applications but urged the court to attach conditions that matched the charges levelled against the two accused persons.
Hearing continues on May 6, 2019.
Case of the A-G
Presenting the prosecution’s facts, Ms Akuffo said following the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election debacle on January 31, 2019, Ampofo met with some NDC party communicators on February 3, 2019.
She said at the said meeting, Ampofo and Boahen set out a road map of criminal activities, including violence against Ms Mensa and Rev. Prof. Asante.
According to her, an audio recording of the said meeting was leaked, leading to investigations by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service into the comments on the tape.
The A-G said on February 20, 2019, Boahen granted a radio interview in which he confirmed his participation in the said meeting and also revealed that the leaked audio recording was a true reflection of what transpired at the February 3, 2019 meeting
The hearing attracted scores of sympathisers and bigwigs from the NDC who trooped to the court to support the party’s national chairman and its deputy communications director.
In a strong show of solidarity, former President Mahama and some party bigwigs, including the General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, arrived at the court around 7: 57 a.m. to support the accused persons even though hearing of the case was to start at 9 a.m.
Other stalwarts of the NDC who showed up at the court included the National Organiser, Mr Joshua Hamidu Akamba, and the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu.
The supporters went into a frenzy when former President Mahama, who is also the presidential candidate of the NDC for the 2020 general election, made his way out of the courtroom.