Two families from Ardeyman, near Accra, on Wednesday clashed on the premises of the Adjabeng District Court during the hearing of the murder case of Nii Tetteh Saban, the late development chief of Ardeyman.
About 100 family members of both Nii Saban and the accused thronged the court to witness the hearing, but majority of them were not allowed into the courtroom due to the large number.
A fight, however, broke out between those outside immediately the 22 accused persons were ushered into the courtroom.
While some rushed to attack members of one family, others hurled insults and curses at members on the other side.
Police personnel on duty at the court, however, brought the situation under control. They arrested those suspected of causing the violence and also cordoned off the entrance of the courtroom.
Since the court is close to the Accra Regional Police Command, it was easy for the police to deploy reinforcement to beef up security.
Journalists not spared
Journalists were not spared the skirmishes as some people in the crowd prevented them from taking pictures of the accused persons.
They accused the journalists of publishing pictures of the accused taken at the June 28, 2017 hearing on their front pages.
“If you think you are a strong person, take pictures and you will see where power lies,’’ some yelled at the journalists.
Again, the police were on hand to help the journalists out of danger.
At the hearing itself, the court, presided over by Mr Isaac Addo, granted an application by the prosecution to amend the charge sheet of the accused persons.
The prosecutor, Chief Inspector Gregory Yeboah, told the court that three more persons had been arrested in connection with the murder and, therefore, the charge sheet had to be amended.
The police initially charged 21 people with the murder of Nii Saban, but later discharged two of them.
All the accused have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, murder and two counts of attempted murder after they allegedly tried to kill two other persons identified as Jonathan Aryeteey and Kojo Richard.
One of the accused, Asafoatse Kortey, has been charged separately for the unlawful possession of explosives, firearms and ammunition.
Presenting the facts, Chief Inspector Yeboah stated that on June 8, 2017, Nii Saban and some family members were attacked by the 22 individuals armed with “AK 47 rifles, pistols, cutlasses and clubs’’ during a ritual to lift the ban on drumming and noisemaking as part of the Homowo festival.
According to him, the attackers fired indiscriminately and as a result, Nii Saban and some of his family members fled for their lives.
“The attackers chased Nii Saban who had entered a room for safety, fired at him and also inflicted cutlass wounds on his whole body. They then carried and dumped him in another room and bolted,” he said.
One of the lawyers representing the accused persons, Mr Gasper Lyle Nii-Aponsah, pleaded with the court to discharge his clients because the police had failed to conduct proper investigations to link his clients to the murder.
According to him, the prosecution failed to name the specific role each of the accused persons played in the alleged murder or any event that linked them to the murder.
“The charges have no grounds in law because the police have failed to tell the court which of the accused persons fired the shot, used the machete or carried the dead body.
Another lawyer, Mr Dan Afari-Yeboah, also described the handling of the case by the police as a lottery.
“The police do not know who they are really after so they are just arresting innocent people. The continuous incarceration of these innocent people will cause them tremendous harm,’’ he argued.
He also prayed the court to discharge his clients because they were innocent, while some needed serious medical attention.
The court, however, granted the prosecution’s request and remanded the 22 persons in custody.
It, however, ordered the prosecution to expedite action on the investigations and also ensure that any sick person among the accused was given the necessary medical attention.
Hearing continues on July 26, 2017.