Ghana – TWO POLICEMEN who robbed a businessman of GH¢37,370 at Industrial Area, North Kaneshie, Accra, after accusing him of dealing in fake currency, have been sentenced to a total of 80 years by an Accra Circuit Court.
The two cops, Lance Corporal Reuben Addison and Constable Edward Opoku, stationed at Achimota Terminal and Amoured Car Squadron respectively, were found guilty of two charges of conspiracy to commit crime and robbery by the court presided over by Francis Obiri.
They were said to have attacked one Faisal Tahiru, the businessman, and Nii Appiah, a motorbike rider, at gunpoint amidst threats of death, and robbing Tahiru of the said amount.
The convicts pleaded not guilty to the charges and in their defence, without calling any witnesses, they stated that they were doing their lawful duty by arresting the complainant, whom they gathered, was dealing in fake currency.
The trial judge, in his judgment, indicated that the prosecution, through four witnesses, proved the guilt of the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt.
According to the judge, the convicts were not truthful in their defence as they gave different accounts to the police and the court.
He said the police officers intentionally used an unregistered vehicle to rob the complainant in order to cover up their unlawful acts.
The judge observed that their defence was “wishy-washy, full of inconsistencies and without any merit”, and therefore not convincing enough to acquit them.
He said their denial of the charges in the dock was an afterthought.
According to the court, there was evidence that they wanted to deprive the complainant of his money, citing the fact that Opoku kept GH¢3,800 of the money in his pocket and attempted to flush it in a washroom at the police station when they were arrested.
The judge rhetorically asked why they did not send the complainant to the next police station after arresting him, as they claimed he was doing illegal business, but rather, they all ended up at a refuse dump where they collected his money and other valuables including mobile phones.
The judge, who believed the story of the prosecution that there was conspiracy between the accused persons and two others now at large, further questioned why L/Cpl Addison invited Constable Opoku, who was on interdiction on a similar offence, to accompany him to effect the arrest.
Judge Obiri was of the view that their duty was to protect citizens and not to conspire with others to rob innocent people of their monies, describing their conduct as disgraceful to themselves, their families, and the Police Service and therefore deserved a harsh sentence.
He noted, “Robbery is on the increase and has become a national issue but more serious when the action is perpetrated by police officers.
“The time has come for the court to deal ruthlessly with such perpetrators, especially teachers, policemen and guardians who are to help shape the society. This is the only way we can protect our citizens.”
Before he handed them their jail terms, George Asamaney, their lawyer, pleaded with the court to give them a minimum sentence as they were first-time offenders but Winifred Sarpong, a state attorney, objected, indicating that the court should jail them 30 years each since they were supposed to know better.
The court convicted and sentenced them to ten years each on the charge of conspiracy and 30 years each on the charge of robbery. The sentences are however to run concurrently.
The prosecution, led by Ms Sarpong, said that on February 7, 2011, Tahiru, the complainant, collected cash in the sum of GH¢ 37,370 from his brother at Accra Central and put same in a polythene bag.
Tahiru reportedly hired a motorbike which was being ridden by Nii Appiah to Abeka Lapaz to transact business.
When they got to the Lake Side Clinic, Tahiru had a phone call so Nii Appiah decided to stop for him to receive the call.
According to the prosecution, moments after receiving the call, a certain man rushed on Tahiru with a pistol and asked him to surrender the bag he was holding.
Before Tahiru could say anything, L/Cpl Addison, who was in police uniform, accompanied by Constable Opoku, arrived in an unregistered Nissan March private car and dragged the two complainants into the car and sped off towards the Achimota Police Station.
On their way, the two officers stopped and pushed Nii Appiah, the motor rider, out and took a different route to Awoshie.
The prosecution said when they got to a spot at Oblogo, the engine of the car stopped and Tahiru started shouting for help.
This subsequently attracted people to the scene and the two officers were arrested and sent to the Weija Police Station together with Tahiru.
According to the prosecution, one of their accomplices, who possessed a gun, managed to escape arrest.
In their caution statements, the police officers reportedly admitted to the offence and refunded GH¢29,390, and the unregistered vehicle was retrieved from them.