Former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, has criticised the manner in which the #FixTheCountry Movement lead convener, Oliver Barker-Vormawor was charged with treason felony by the Police.

According to the former Attorney-General, charging Mr Barker-Vormawor with treason felony on his first appearance in court is an unconstitutional and unethical ambush.

He added that it was an “abuse of the investigatory and prosecutorial discretion of the executive branch of government in informing the suspect and his lawyers for the first time in the court room.”

He said the nature of the charge in the courtroom even “shocked Mr. Akoto Ampaw, the lawyer leading the suspect’s defence team, to the extent that he is quoted by the Daily Graphic Online of 14 February 2022 to have said that: “Until this morning [Monday], it was a misdemeanour, only to appear in court and be told he is being charged with treason felony which has no factual basis.”

“On 14 February 2022, when Mr. Barker-Vormawor was surprisingly brought before a District Court for the misdemeanour and summary offence of offensive conduct conducive to breaches of the peace, the reasons for his arrest and detention changed in the court room.

“His lawyers and him learnt for the first time in the court that he had been brought before the Court on a charge of treason felony under section 182(b) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) for which the court had no bailable powers,” he noted.

According to the former Special Prosecutor, “Mr Akoto Ampaw wondered why the prosecution, which initially charged BarkerVormawor for offensive conduct conducive to the breach of the peace, which is a misdemeanour and went ahead to take a statement from him would show up in court with the charge of treason felony.”

Meanwhile, the Attorney-General says the police investigators have gathered evidence to sustain the charge of treason felony filed against #FixTheCountry Movement lead convener Oliver Barker-Vormawor.

Godfred Dame, in documents filed at the Tema High Court on his behalf, said, “That contrary to the averments in paragraph 7 of the affidavit in support, the evidence gathered so far by the police can sustain a charge of treason felony.”

This forms part of arguments advanced by the Attorney-General against a bail request. However, Mr Barker-Vormawor, who is said to be unwell, has put in an application for bail through his lawyers.

Background

Oliver Barker-Vormawor was arrested and put in Police custody when he arrived from the United Kingdom on the evening of February 11, 2022, over coup comments on his Facebook page.

In a press release, the Police explained that his arrest followed “a post he allegedly made on a social media platform to the effect that he would stage a coup himself if the E-Levy Bill is passed by Parliament.”

Subsequently, he was charged with treason felony, an offence provided for in section 182(b) of Ghana’s Criminal offences Act after the Police had initially charged him with offensive conduct conducive to breaches of the peace.

Counsel for Barker-Vormawor, Mr Akoto Ampaw, described the Treason Felony charge as ‘cynical’ and expressed shock over the fresh charges against his client.

Appearing in Court on Monday, February 14, the judge hearing the matter, Eleanor Barnes, remanded Barker-Vormawor into Police custody, pointing out that the nature and severity of the crime meant the Court cannot grant bail.

His lawyers later filed a suit at the Supreme Court, challenging his arraignment before the district court.

They wanted the Court to determine whether the Police have discharged their constitutional duty by sending their client to a court with no jurisdiction to consider a bail application.

According to them, the ruling of the High Court ‘B’, Tema, dated February 17, 2022, entails a grave error of law which error is patent on the face of the record.

But the Supreme Court, on March 2, struck out the application filed by lawyers for Oliver Barker-Vormawor.