Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare, a US-based Ghanaian legal practitioner, has challenged the decision of police prosecutors to charge FixTheCountry convener, Oliver Barker-Vormawor, with treason felony over comments the latter made on his social media timeline.Â
Known popularly as Kwaku Azar, the Professor, in a post on his social media timeline indicated that, the constitution clearly spells out what actions constitute treason, and based on the comments by Mr. Barker-Vormawor, there is no indication that his comment, however offensive, comes close to being considered treasonable.
â€œYou must declare war or assist, incite or conspire with another country or person to declare war against Ghanafuo or you must attempt, not by words, hyperbole or satire, but by force of arms or some other violent means to overthrow the organs of government, or you must take part in either the war or the overthrow,â€ parts of his post on Monday said.
â€œI find comments made by Osagyefo on â€œcoup and armyâ€ as despicable but find that those statements come nowhere near being treasonous,â€ he added.
The #FixTheCountry convener, was charged with treason felony after he made comments on social media that have been deemed to be a coup threat.
The Ashaiman District Court on Monday, February 14, 2022, remanded Barker-Vormawor, into police custody till February 28.
Barker-Vormawor was arrested on Friday, February 11, upon his return to the country.
The police statement stated, his arrest was necessitated following a comment he made on the social media platforms to the effect that he would stage a coup if the controversial Electronic Transfer Levy popularly known as E-levy is passed into law.
Oliver Barker-Vormawor made the post after pictures of the E-levy cake at the Majority Leaderâ€™s 65th birthday party went viral.
During the court hearing, the lawyer for the suspect, Akoto Ampaw, prayed the court to grant him bail but the prosecutor, ASP Sylvester Asare, opposed the plea and asked that he be remanded due to the nature of the case.
Read Prof. Azarâ€™s post below:
Treason is a unique crime. First, it is the only crime defined by the Constitution. Second, it is tried by a high court, consisting of 3 Judges. Third, the conviction must be unanimous.
The Constitutionâ€™s definition of treason and the requirement for a unanimous 3-judge panel for conviction are intended to prevent its abuse and misuse by the government against people engaged in legitimate political opposition.
This is why Article 19(18) loudly says â€œAn act which aims at procuring by constitutional means an alteration of the law or of the policies of the Government shall not be considered as an act calculated to overthrow the organs of government.â€
What then is treason?
According to the Constitution, â€œtreason shall consist ONLY (a) in levying war against Ghana or assisting any state, or person or inciting or conspiring with any person to levy war against Ghana; or (b) in attempting by force of arms or other violent means to overthrow the organs of government established by or under this Constitution; or (c) in taking part or being concerned in or inciting or conspiring with any person to make or take part or be concerned in, any such attempt.â€
You must declare war or assist, incite or conspire with another country or person to declare war against Ghanafuo or you must attempt, not by words, hyperbole, or satire, but by force of arms or some other violent means to overthrow the organs of government, or you must take part in either the war or the overthrow.
In effect, treason is not some petty charge to be thrown about whenever the security services find a statement that uses war, overthrow, or both. Levying war means actual waging of war and force of arms means a force of arms!
Law enforcement had no business charging Kennedy Agyepong with treason when he verbally declared war in reaction to attacks on NPP supporters during the 2012 biometric registration exercise.
At that time, I condemned his comments as despicable and unbecoming of a legislator but opined that it came nowhere near being treasonous as defined by the Constitution.
Likewise, I find comments made by Osagyefo on â€œcoup and armyâ€ as despicable but find that those statements come nowhere near being treasonous. We have a duty to hold the government and other officeholders accountable and can discharge this duty without veiled references to coup and overthrow of the Constitution.
GOGO also condemns the security forces for failing to follow due process by holding Osagyefo longer than the stipulated 48 hours.
GOGO calls on the judiciary to start protecting the citizensâ€™ due process rights by holding the police accountable for violations, including releasing accused persons as a consequence of violating their due process rights.Â
The Police will never take the due process seriously if they know there is no penalty for violating it.
SALL is the cardinal sin of the 8th Parliament.