The Police have forwarded the case involving persons arrested for campaigning for the secession of the Volta Region from Ghana to a High Court, charging them with conspiracy to commit treason.
A Magistrate Court in Ho on Thursday, March 9, 2017, declined jurisdiction in the case saying it was above its jurisdiction.
Lawyer for the accused persons, Atsu Agbakpe, confirmed the latest development on Accra-based Citi FM adding that the court had granted his clients bail.
Mr. Agbakpe insisted that the charges against his clients were without merit because as he said, their actions did not fall under the umbrella of treason.
He argued that treason comes into play when you wage war against the state, or you use violent means or you assist someone to use violent means to overthrow the state.
“When you read article 19 (18) of the 1992 constitution, it says that when you lawful means such as a petition, court order or you lobby for such to be done, it has nothing to do with treason. Thinking of separation is not treason by itself but the means by which you want to achieve it is where the offence comes from.”
His clients are part of the Homeland Study group Foundation which has over the past year been campaigning for the separation of parts of the Volta, Northern and Upper East regions to form the Western Togoland state, which they claim existed before Ghana’s independence in 1957.
Founder of the group, Charles Kormi Kudjordji, and two others, Martin Asiama Agbenu and Divine Odonkor, were arrested the ones arrested and charged with treason.
Police yet to provide proof of treason
Mr. Agbakpe said he was not part of the movement, and did not know how his clients seek to achieve their aim, but he argued that the police are not making reference to their methods as a basis for the treason charges.
“The fact that the people are speaking for separation doesn’t spell treason. It has nothing to do with treason. Police are trained to investigate and gather intelligence so they should take their time to ascertain how they want to achieve their goal.”
“I am not saying the wrong should have been done before they take action, but they should have come to tell the court that this is the means the people want to use to achieve their grievances,” he added.
Another legal practitioner on Eyewitness News, Ace Ankomah, outlined the various kinds of treason per Ghana’s laws as High treason under Article 3(3) of the constitution, Treason on its own, and Treason Felony per section 182 of the criminal offense act.
With respect to the group’s agenda, Mr. Ankomah is of the view they have not yet crossed into the territory of treason as yet, but any further steps would most likely fall foul of the law.
“If you seek to take a portion of the land of Ghana, you will be hard pressed to show how you can do that lawfully unless all you are going to do is to argue that maybe we should have a plebicite for you to decide whether or not you want to remain part of Ghana.”
“If they were to get up and declare themselves independent, that would take them into the realm of treason felony or treason itself. If the government says it would not agree with your declaration of independence, are you going to fight back; that leads you to the level of high treason and treason itself.”