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Monday, June 30, 2008

1st Ghana Fashion Week Gets Under Way

By Stephen K. Effah
Monday, 30 June 2008


A Clothing extravaganza of designs made from unique African textiles heralded the opening of the first ever Ghana Fashion Week yesterday at the T.V3 Studio, in Accra.

The four-day Fashion Week brings together designers, models and industry players from Ghana, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria to showcase exquisite and trendy designs with intrinsic
African creativity in today’s competitive environment.

It has been organised by Global Media Alliance in partnership with a Ghanaian modelling agency, Exopa, and aims at introducing African designs, especially those from Ghana, to the rest of the world.

During the week, designs from Ama-nua Williams, Patrick House Eccentric, Allan David Collections, Titi Ademola-Kiki Designs, Gille Toure, Clara Lawson, Bayo Adebayo, Armstrong Loga and Dady Mwitaly among others will be on display.

Both local and international models will model various beach wear, bridal and prĂȘt-a-porter (ready to wear) design genres from the respective designers at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Exopa Agency Office June 28 and 29, respectively.

The event will be climaxed with a catwalk and exhibition of the collections on Monday at the Exopa Office, behind the International Trade Fair, to give the public the opportunity to see and buy some of the latest and on- the-move outfits, while business executives strike deals with the designers.

Spicing up the various catwalk shows will be the most "wanted" hip-lifer cum the reigning Ghana Music Awards Artiste of the Year, Kwaw ‘Abodam’ Kesse, who will also double as a model.
Others will be the king of the ‘African dancehall music,’ Batman Samini, the female sensation Becca, and the Ghanaian pop music pals, 5Five.

Observers will note that the Ghanaian fashion industry has evolved positively over the last two decades and this trailblasing event which is expected to expose the Ghanaian designers is also to compliment the successes chalked in the industry.

Speaking to Times Weekend, Brooke Nuwati, a Media Executive of Global Media Alliance, said the maiden edition of the Fashion Week "will pave the way for what is to become an annual event on the entertainment and fashion calendar in Ghana."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lawyer Challenges Abodakpi’s Status

By Stephen K. Effah
Friday, 27 June 2008


THE Supreme Court yesterday described as "odd", a writ filed at the court by an Accra legal practitioner, Kwasi Danso Acheampong, seeking legal interpretation of Articles 94 and 97 of the Constitution as to whether a convicted Member of Parliament could keep his seat or not.

The five-member panel, presided over by Justice Sophia Akuffo, expressed surprise that Mr Acheampong copied the writ to the Attorney-General, the Speaker of Parliament and the MP for Keta, Dan Abodakpi, as interested parties instead of serving them as defendants.

The court explained that the parties are affected in the matter and should therefore have been served as defendants.

"The writ was not directed to the parties…this is a very odd document we have here. We should have thrown this matter out," Justice Akuffo said, but explaining that since the issue is of national interest, it cannot be thrown out.This was after the panel had pointed out the irregularities in the writ to Mr Acheampong.

The Supreme Court therefore gave Mr Acheampong up to Monday to amend the writ to include the three parties as "defendants without any prejudice", in view of the fact that they are affected in the matter.

The three parties, the court pointed out, are also to file their respective cases if any, by July 11, for hearing to commence on July 15.

When the case was called, the judges questioned Mr Acheampong as to why he was in his law robe and wig since he was in the court as a plaintiff, to which he replied: "My lords, I was misled by my colleague", and he was obliged by the court to remove the apparel.

Mr Tony Lithur, representing Mr Abodakpi told the court that he was not served with the writ pointing that what his client received on Tuesday was "just the memo of issues of the writ".
The A-G was represented by Ms.Valerie Amartey, a Chief State Attorney.

The case was thus adjourned to July 15 to allow the amendment to be made and for the defendants to respond to the writ.

Other members of the panel are Justice Allan Brobbey, Justice Sophia Adinyirah, Justice Darteh Baah and Justice S.K Asiamah.

Article 97 clause (1) sub-clause (e) and Article 94 clause (2) sub-clause (e) together, state that a convicted and imprisoned Member of Parliament ceases to be a Member of Parliament, or the seat he occupied before his imprisonment is declared vacant if he fails to vacate the seat voluntarily.

Mr Acheampong is therefore asking for, among other reliefs from the Supreme Court, a declaration that an MP on being convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment by any court mandatorily, vacates his or her seat.

Further, a declaration that an appeal filed by a convicted and imprisoned MP is not by itself a stay to suspend the vacation of seat by the imprisoned Member of Parliament as mandatorily required by Articles 97 and 94 read together.

Mr Acheampong maintained in a statement of claim accompanying the writ, that the Accra Fast Track High Court, presided over by Justice F.T. Faakye, a justice of the Court of Appeal, convicted Mr Abodakpi for defrauding by false pretences and wilfully causing financial loss of $400,000 to the state and in consequence, sentenced him to a term of ten (10) years imprisonment with hard labour.

"Having been convicted and sentenced by a court of competent jurisdiction, plaintiff expected Mr Abodakpi to vacate his parliamentary seat voluntarily and mandatorily as required by the express provisions of Articles 97 Clause (1) Sub-Clause (e) and 94 Clause (2) Sub Clause (e) of the 1992 Constitution read together," Mr. Acheampong stated.

He had earlier pointed out that PNDCL 284 which was made on the July 24, 1992 and notified in gazette August 7, 1992 has to be construed to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution that came into force on January 7, 1993 as required by Article 11(6).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

GOODIES’ GOODS WERE COKE - Police

By Stephen K. Effah
Wednesday, 25 June 2008


Eighty thumb-sized pellets of a substance expelled by Isaac Abeiku Aidoo, also known as Goodies, the popular music producer being held for drug related offences, have proved to be cocaine upon examination by the Ghana Standards Board, the Greater Accra Public Tribunal heard yesterday.


Aidoo, who was making his second appearance before the tribunal, is charged with two counts of attempted exportation and possessing narcotic drugs without lawful authority.

His plea was not taken, and he is on police remand.

The case was however adjourned to July 21 at the request of the prosecutor, ASP Edward Ansah who informed the tribunal, presided over by Justice Frank Manu, that the case docket has been forwarded to the Attorney-General’s Office for advice.

Aidoo, who is Chief Executive of Goodies Music Production, was arrested at the Kotoka International Airport on April 23, on suspicion of possessing narcotic drugs while going through departure formalities to board a flight to London.

He was subsequently taken to the 37 Military Hospital by officials of the Narcotics Control Board for an x-ray, which revealed that he had foreign materials in his stomach.

He was put under surveillance during which he alleged expelled 80 pellets of whitish substances suspected to be cocaine.

The prosecution had told the tribunal at its first hearing on April 25 that during police interrogation, Aidoo said Abdul Haid, a musician resident at East Legon, Accra, gave him the drugs to be delivered to one Willie in London for a fee of 3,000 dollars.

Haid has not been located by the police.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tsatsu's Bail Bid Falters

By Stephen K. Effah
Tuesday, 24 June 2008


THE incarcerated former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Tsatsu Tsikata, yesterday failed to move his application for bail pending an appeal at the Supreme Court, due to his inability to secure a copy of the judgement.

Mr.Tsikata told the packed Fast Track High Court which sentenced him last Wednesday that he has also petitioned the Chief Justice against the "bias" shown by Justice Henrietta Abban in her judgement.

"I have petitioned the Chief Justice…I have indicated the clear bias exhibited in the judgement and I’m waiting for the outcome," he said.

The case was thus adjourned sine die to allow both Mr Tsikata and the prosecution to have copies of the judgement.The Fast Track High Court on June 18, handed down a five-year jail term to the former GNPC boss after it found him guilty of all three counts of causing financial loss of about ¢2.3 billion to the state and misapplying public property.

Immediately he was sentenced last Wednesday, Mr.Tsikata, asked the court for bail to allow him appeal against the decision of the judge but that request was refused by the court.

He later filed a notice of appeal seeking an order of the Court of Appeal to set aside the High Court’s decision because, he said, it was unreasonable and not supported by the evidence given.

After Mrs. Yvonne Obuobisah, a Principal State Attorney had introduced her prosecution team to the court yesterday, Justice Abban asked Mr.Tsikata whether he had any legal representation but he replied: "I’m representing myself."

He then told the court that he applied for a copy of the judgement, as well as proceedings of June 18, to support his application for bail, but he was only given an "incomplete record of proceedings," hence he has written back to the court registrar requesting the full text of the judgement.

"As at now, I don’t have the judgement, and the best way to proceed is to have it (judgement) and the transcript of proceedings," he told the court.

Mr Tsikata further said that even when the proceedings of June 18 are supplied him, he would want to listen to the recorded proceedings of that day to ensure its accuracy.

In response, Mrs Obuobisah said that for an application for bail, it is the record of judgement which is needed and not proceedings. She therefore requested the judge to exercise her discretion, adding, "It will be proper if we all have copies of the judgement."

As early as 9 a.m. yesterday, a number of National Democratic Congress supporters had started thronging the Supreme Court building awaiting the arrival of Mr Tsikata.

By the time proceedings began at about 11:40 a.m., hundreds of them, wearing red bands had besieged the forecourt amidst the chanting of songs in praise of Mr Tsikata.

Bearing placards some of which read, "No Tsatsu, No Ghana," "We Want Justice Now", "After Tsatsu Who is Next Mr Prez" and "Tsatsu is a Living Legend." However, the supporters were prevented from entering the court building by the police.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ghana's Most Beautiful: IT’S SARAH ADOLEY

By Stephen Effah
Saturday, 21 June 2008


Sarah Adoley Addo, a 24-year-old native of Greater Accra last Sunday took home two glossy saloon cars with a cool 3,000 Ghana cedi having emerged as this year’s Ghana’s Most Beautiful.

While one of the cars is her prize, the other is for ceremonial use during her one year reign.

The senior high school leaver also had as part of her prize, a year’s wardrobe of clothing, a mobile TV phone from Onetouch, the major sponsor of the event, as well as jewelleries and souvenirs from sponsors.

The first runner-up, Mavis Eyram Dotse from the Volta Region, received 6,000 Ghana cedis and an additional 500 Ghana cedi for being the contestant with the best skin.

Fanny A. Finn Amissah, of the Central Region, received 4,000 Ghana cedis as the second runner-up while Ruweida Yakubu, from the Northern Region took home 2,000 Ghana cedis as the third runner-up.

CONTROVERSIES

The crowd at the National Theatre auditorium roared "Adoley! Adoley!!..." when the host, Gideon Ayitey, teased them as to who the winner was.

The streets around the National Theatre were besieged by some youth watching the show live on TV, singing the name of Adoley.

But the night was not without controversies as the crowning of Adoley seemed not to have gone down well with Eyram and Fanny who were highly tipped for the crown.

For moments after the results were announced, Eyram for instance, disappeared from the stage while the others hugged each other and exchanged pleasantries with other dignitaries.
It took Eyram about two minutes to get back on stage when the host kept calling "Eryam! Eryam! Where is Eyram? Come on stage," before she resurfaced to join the others for photo opportunity.

The keenly contested show was characterised with a display of rich Ghanaian culture spiced up with spectacular performances from the contestants, the Ghana Dance Ensemble, Obour, highlife legend Ebo Taylor and Joe of TV3 Mentor fame among others.

It all began with the contestants appearing on stage as queen mothers of their respective regions with their retinues to persuade the judges — Linda Ampah, Nana Abena Efia and S.F. Adjei — why they should want to be crowned Ghana’s Most Beautiful.

They were then questioned by the judges. Then came the next stage when each of them had to demonstrate to the audience as well as the judges what she had learnt from another region during the 13 weeks stay at a reality house. Adoley and Fanny opened the stage with each telling and enacting to the other what they learned.

Eyram and Ruweida followed up. The two, used the opportunity to appeal to their people to cease fire in the various reported conflicts in their home regions.

The last round saw each of the four modelling with an evening and casual wears.
Adoley, whose parents are deaf and dump, and aspires to be a human resource personnel, said

she intends championing the course of persons with disabilities in the country.

The Ghana’s Most Beautiful TV reality show seeks to showcase the grandeur of Ghanaian tradition, bringing out the personality, beauty, intelligence, eloquence and national pride of the women between the ages of 18 and 30.

A Chat With Akwamufie Queenmother

By Our Reporters
Saturday, 21 June 2008


It was sunset on a Thursday in a community at the mountainous Akwamu dynasty in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The atmosphere was calm, bright and fulfilling with every "Kwasi, Kwame and Ama" going about their normal duties.

But for an 18-year-old Yaa Baomah, it was a turning point in her life as the unexpected happened to her that faithful day.

The royal family of Akwamufie, one of the significant towns in Ghana’s history, was meeting at the Abusafie at the centre of the town to discuss and find a successor to the late Nana Ansaah I.

With no expectation, Yaa Boamah found herself in the auspicious meeting at the Abusuafie, where she was confined. For two weeks, her relation with friends and some of her family members was cut short. Rather, she had to learn the traditions and customs of the Akwamu people in order to become queenmother.

Now, 62, and queenmother of Akwamu Traditional Area, Nana Afrakumah II, recall how she was prepared for her coronation as the queenmother for the area when Group Two called at her palace this morning.

Dressed in her traditional regalia, she reminisced: "I wept the whole day of my coronation. This is because I was not going to have the opportunity to play with my peers and do certain things in public again."

She said that her mother was supposed to have been installed the queen- mother, but due to her old age, the mantle fell on her.

She said that because she was not married and it was difficult for men to come closer to propose to her, her family and the then chief, Nana Kwaafo II, arranged a suitor for her.

Forty-two years since her instalment, Nana Afrakumah has used her role as the queenmother of the area to influence her people in various ways, especially the as regards traditions and customs.

She said everyone in the community has been assigned responsibilities during Odwira festival celebrated every August. This, she explained, is to expose the people, especially the youth, to their culture.

Further, to ensure discipline and peaceful co-existence, she has banned people from fighting or raining insults on people especially in public. The women are not allowed to walk in public in cover cloth. "Anyone who flouts this law is fined," she said.

Like all queenmothers, Nana Afrakumah told the Group that, all girls who experience their first menstruation are brought to her by their parents for groming on how to dress, how to compose themselves in public and what not to do.

"As the queenmother of my people, I sometimes double as an arbitrator in disputes in my community. When people have problems that they are unable to solve, they bring them to me for settlement,"

Notwithstanding, things have not been easy for Nana Afrakumah. Due to a 17-year-old chieftaincy dispute in Akwamufie following the death of Nana Kwaafo Akoto II, some aspects of the traditions have been affected by the situation.

She said that for the past 17 years, the people have not been able to celebrate the Odwira and Adaekese festival, which are of great significance to the Akwamus, thus depriving the youth the opportunity to admire and learn their culture.

"The dispute has brought division to Akwamufie," she said, noting that only those who are on her side listen to her and give her the respect due a queen- mother.

Nana Afrakuma now blends tradition with modernity and no longer performs some rituals expected of her. For instance, she said that whenever she pays her last respect to the dead, she is required to purify herself with the slaughter of a ram.

But according to her, she no longer performs such a ritual, because "it is against Christianity to atone with blood."

Back in her days, Nana had little former education and learned hair- dressing, adding "those were the times when there were no hair dryers and we had to fall on stretching comb."

Nana Afrakumah now has three children-two of males and a female and does petty trading and farming to while away time.

She advised parents to strive to send their children to school and avoid spending on funerals and clothing.

Osei Shows Remorse To President

By Stephen K. Effah
Saturday, 21 June 2008


Thomas Osei, the man who drove into President J.A.Kufuor’s car on November 14,2007, yesterday showed remorse when he told the Fast Track High Court trying him of his intention to apologise to President Kufuor when given the opportunity.

"Yes I will go and apologise when I am given the opportunity. I still want to be his son," he stated, when he was being led in evidence by his counsel, Kwame Akuffo, after he opened his defence yesterday.

He said he did not bear any malice for the president on that fateful day the accident occurred, saying, "I was so surprised when I realised that I have bumped into his (President Kufuor) car because I know him. I felt so bad, my lord".

The 51 year-old man told the court that he did not realise it was President Kufuor’s car that he drove into until he came out to see the coat of arms on it.

"I said to myself: Oh my God! What have I done when I realised that it was President Kufour’s car I drove into," he added.

Osei, who is a businessman is facing charges for dangerous driving, negligently causing harm, driving under the influence of alcohol, failing to give way to Presidential siren and the use of narcotic drugs. The President escaped unhurt.

Osei has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and is still on police remand.

In his evidence in chief to the court, Osei admitted being a regular visitor to President Kufuor’s residence.

He said he has known President Kufuor when he (Osei) was resident in Japan between 1990 and 2000.

While there, he said, he got to know some key Japanese and Ghanaian politicians, and even influenced the grant from the Japanese Government for the construction of the Kasoa Yamoransa road where his partner, K.T Wilson, is a sub-contractor.

Osei told the court that on the day of the accident, he did not hear any siren when he got to the Opeibea Intersection, the accident spot, noting "there was nothing indicating that the President’s car was progressing".

"I only heard a fainted siren at the 37 area but not at the intersection," he said, adding that at the time of the accident, there was no police officer on duty at the intersection.

Osei also denied the claim by the prosecution that he disregarded a police officer’s signal to stop for the President’s convoy to pass, as well as the claim that he overtook the two cars which were ahead of him.

He told the court that he was driving to his office after he had gone to eat at London Restaurant where he took only two bottles of beer when the accident occurred. He said he was not drunk as claimed by the prosecution.

Moments after he got to the intersection from the Aviance Cargo area, he said, the traffic lights turned green and two cars which were ahead made a turn towards the airport traffic light.

He said he had gotten to the fifth lane when a car suddenly hit his. He said some security personnel came up to him, and asked why he has done that because he knew them and they also know him.

Osei said that President Kufuor was immediately taken away making the security personnel suspect that he was being taken to the 37 Military Hospital. "They took me to the 37 Military Hospital" but when they realise the President was not there, they took me too to the Bureau of National Investigation office.

There he said, he met the President’s Security, Bediako, who used the back of his hands to hit him on the mouth, thus making him sustain injury on his lips. "I was taken to a room and Bediako asked me to lie down which I did. "He used his shoe to kick me like a football and I bled profusely."

Just then, he said, Francis Poku, the former National Security Minister, came in and asked what had happened to him and he told him it was Bediako who hit and kicked him.He ordered one Dr.Brako and one BNI official to take me to hospital.

Osei told the court that on arrival at the 37 Military Hospital, One Dr.Gyan stitched his wounds and took an X-ray of him. He said "Dr.Brako was interfering so "Dr.Gyan told him that 37 is beyond his jurisdiction".

He said a police officer later came to take his breath but did not tell him what he was going to use it for. He said Dr.Brako also later came to take his blood sample without letting him know what it was going to be used for.

He said that Dr. Brako again took his urine sample when they went to search his house, noting the samples were later taken to Medi Lab where it was tested and I was told that I have cocaine in my blood.

"I have never taken cocaine in my life before," he told the court.

The court adjourned proceedings to June 23 for the prosecution to cross-examine Osei.

Friday, June 20, 2008

COCAINE SUSPECTS SENT TO HOSPITAL

By Stephen K. Effah
Friday, 20 June 2008


THE Greater Accra Regional Tribunal yesterday ordered the police to send two of the three persons being held for their involvement in the 399 parcels of cocaine intercepted by the police on May 30, to hospital for treatment of hearing difficulty as a result of alleged police beatings.

The order follows an application by counsel for the accused, Frederick Boamah, who alleged that two of his clients, Kwame Anane, 34, and Kofi Amewu,30, were severely beaten up by the police upon their arrest, resulting in their difficulty in hearing.

This was when the two, and Kofi Deble, 35, made their second appearance at the court yesterday.

Their plea were not taken and they were remanded in prison custody to appear again on July 17.
The three are facing three counts of conspiracy, possession of narcotic drugs without authority and importation of narcotic drugs without authority.

The court, presided over by Justice Frank Manu, a High Court Judge, also ordered a test of the cow legs and hide under which the cocaine were concealed to determine their wholesomeness or otherwise.

He directed that the cow legs and hide be sold if found to be wholesome otherwise they should be destroyed. The police should also take a video or photograph of the items before being disposed of for use as exhibit in the trial.

The prosecutor, DSP. P.K. Frimpong, told the court that investigations were still going on, noting that the owners of the cow legs and hide as well as the truck, had not yet been identified.

Mr Boamah deplored the circumstances under which his clients were denied counsel upon their arrest by the police and their subsequent "smuggling to court for remand".

He said since he was not in court at their first appearance on June 2, "I don’t know the charges preferred against them and I will pray that in our next appearance their charges are read in court."preferred against them and I will pray that in our next appearance their charges are read in court."

He told the court that he has difficulty getting access to his clients, noting that he had to go through bureaucratic procedures before he was allowed to see them.
"Counsel should have unfettered access to confer with the accused persons to prepare them," he stated

He gave notice of his intention to apply for bail for the accused persons at the next hearing, arguing that they were just a driver and his mates, and the truck was registered in the name of a limited liability company and, therefore, finding its owners should not be difficult as claimed by the prosecution.

He said that the parcels of cocaine were so hidden that it was difficult for the driver and the mates to have an idea about them, adding that the police themselves had a tough time locating them.

The prosecution says that on May 30, 2008, the Nsawam police, acting upon a tip-off, mounted surveillance and intercepted the truck with registration number GT 3359 Z, said to have entered Ghana from Conakry, Guinea.

A search conducted on the vehicle uncovered 399 parcels of a whitish substance suspected to be cocaine concealed in an artificially created compartment. The occupants of the vehicle were arrested to assist the police in their investigations.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

TSATSU TSIKATA JAILED 5 YEARS

Stephen K. Effah
Thursday, 19 June 2008


THE trial of Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, which dragged for five years and eight months, ended yesterday with the Accra Fast Track High Court sentencing him to five years in prison.

He was charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the state and misapplying public funds.

The court found him guilty of all four counts of causing financial loss of about ¢2.3 billion to the state through a loan he, acting on behalf of the GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms Limited, a private cocoa producing company in 1991, and misapplying public property.

The court, presided over by Justice Henrietta Abban, sentenced him to five years imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.

Before his sentence, Mr. Tsikata was seeking an order at the Supreme Court to bring the International Finance Corporation to testify in the case in which both the Court of Appeal and the Fast Track High Court had ruled that the IFC has immunity from the processes of the courts.

But Mr.Tsikata insisted that failure to get the corporation to testify "will occasion a miscarriage of justice".
The Supreme Court had fixed June 25, to deliberate on Mr.Tsikata’s application, but when Justice Abban sat yesterday, she made it clear that she was proceeding to read her judgement because the court had not received any order from the Supreme Court to stay proceedings.

After the prosecution, led by Attorney General Joe Ghartey announced themselves to the court yesterday, Mr Tsikata, who had gone to seek an adjournment to enable him to move a motion for an acquittal, told the court that his counsel, Prof. Emmanuel Victor Oware Dankwa,was out of the court’s jurisdiction.
He argued that he needed the services of his counsel before the case could proceed, but the judge asked him to represent himself since he is a lawyer, so that she could go on with the case.
Delivering the judgement, which took about two hours, Justice Abban said the prosecution was able to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, a case against Mr Tsikata.
On the charge of wilfully causing financial loss, the court said the prosecution was able to lead evidence to prove that Mr Tsikata authorised the guarantee of the loan without the GNPC board’s approval, which Valley Farms defaulted in repayment.
The court held that the venture embarked upon by Mr Tsikata caused financial loss to the GNPC, which is a state institution, and the loss was occasioned by acts wilfully done by Mr Tsikata, then Chief Executive of the corporation.
On misappropriation of public property, the court further held that the prosecution was able to prove that Mr Tsikata intentionally misapplied public property when he authorised the guarantee.
When the judge completed reading her judgement, she asked Mr Tsikata who stood throughout the proceedings taking notes, whether he had any comments before the sentence was passed.
Mr Tsikata replied: "I have already indicated to the court that my counsel has travelled abroad. This court had previously adjourned proceedings to await an aspect of the Supreme Court ruling which can have significance for my defence".
He added, "This judgement is against the weight of evidence," but the judge cut in, saying "you are not in control of this court. You are not going to tell me what to do."
This resulted in a heated exchange between the judge and Mr Tsikata, but Justice Abban proceeded in passing the sentence.

She said: "I sentence you to five years in jail", Mr Tsikata responded: " I hope the albatross hanging around your neck has been removed"

Justice Abban: "Did I say I have any albatross hanging around my neck?"
Mr Tsikata: "You did say so some time ago."
Justice Abban stated: "I do not remember. All I said was that there should be an end to litigation."
Mr Tsikata then told the court of his intention to appeal against the judgement, and said, "before that I am applying for bail pending the appeal."

The judge then asked the prosecution to respond to the request by Mr Tsikata, and Mr Ghartey designated Mrs Yvonne Obuobisah, a Principal State Attorney, to do so.

Mrs. Obuobisah opposed the application when she took the floor. "This application is strange in the law. He must follow due process. There is no notice of appeal pending and he cannot put something on nothing," she said.
Further, she said, "the application has to rely on something but he did not state any exceptional grounds on which a bail should be granted".
But Mr Tsikata reacted: "There is no indication that judgement will be given today. I have been summoned to court but without my counsel who notified the court of his absence, and these are clearly unusual circumstances."
He said once the court rescinded its decision to await the Supreme Court’s verdict, it put him in a disadvantage, "I am taking steps to have the appeal filed but I have to be free to be able to do so."
The judge then replied: "I do not even know the grounds on which you are appealing. I therefore uphold the prosecution’s argument that there is no pending application based on which I can make my decision."
By the time proceedings ended, people had began to fill the court room. Notable among them was Mr John Mahama, the National Democratic Congress presidential running mate in the December poll.
After the court had ended proceedings, former President Jerry John Rawlings came there briefly and left.
Not long afterwards, the flag-bearer of the National Democratic Congress , Prof John Atta Mills and the party’s General Secretary Asiedu Nketsia also came around

Tsikata was later taken to the court’s registry by police escorts to process and sign the necessary documents before being taken to prison.
The Times later learnt that Mr Tsikata filed a notice of appeal and stay of execution pending
appeal and was due to move his application later yesterday.

The prosecution’s case was that Mr Tsikata, then Chief Executive of the GNPC, guaranteed a loan contracted by Valley Farms from Caisse Centrale, now Agence Francaise De Development (AFD) in 1991, but the company defaulted, thus compelling GNPC to pay the loan in 1996.

Mr Tsikata is said to have guaranteed the loan without the GNPC board’s approval.
The case started in October 2002 with the late Mr. Osafo Sampong, the then Director of Public Prosecutions leading the prosecuteion.

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fast Track Court trying Mr Tsikata was unconstitutional, following a challenge by Mr Tsikata of its status, a decision which was overturned later in a judicial review.

Mr. Joe Ghartey is the third Attorney-General after Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Mr. J. Ayikoi Otoo, to prosecute the case.

In all, seven witnesses were called by the prosecution, while the defence called one. There were also two court witnesses from the Merchant Bank.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ghana's Most Beautiful: Grand Finale Tomorrow

By Stephen K. Effah
Saturday, 14 June 2008

FROM a list of 10 contestants, four beautiful, intelligent and eloquent women have finally made it to the finals of the second edition of Ghana’s Most Beautiful, a unique educative and entertaining beauty pageant, at the National Theatre tomorrow evening.

For the past 13 good weeks, the women projected and educated hundreds of people on the diverse Ghanaian traditional values most of which have been taken for granted by society, especially in the 21st century, under the guise of modernity.

It has been exciting and fun for both television viewers and the contestants themselves, who were camped under one roof for the period.
Battling it out for the ultimate prize are Sarah Adoley Addo (Greater Accra), Mavis Eyram Dotse (Volta Region), Fanny Aggrey Finn Amissah (Central Region) and Yakuba Ruweida (Northern Region).
The evictions saw Mroh Louisa Efua Baawa from the Western Region, Dauda Fawzia of Upper West and Rafiatu Eugette Gbormitah from the Upper East Region, missing the fun in that order.
They were followed by Ashanti Region’s Danso Abena Akorewaa, Asare Aponsah Akua Serwah from the Eastern Region and Erica Joana Arthur of the Brong-Ahafo Region.

Undoubtedly, either of the four finalists - Adoley, Eyram, Fanny and Ruweida during the elimination stages, put up ‘Ghana’s Most Beautiful’, thus raising the stakes of tomorrow’s grand finale higher than in the previous weekly contests.
The four contestants will first appear on stage as queen mothers of their respective regions and as usual, give insight into the significance and meaning of their regalia. Each of the four will be attempting to convince the judges and the public why she should be crowned ‘Ghana’s Most Beautiful’.
After the first round, each of them will again take up the stage but this time, enact what each has learned from the other region, ranging from language through food to dance. For this, Eyram will move away from the Volta Region to the Northern Region, Ruweida, with the Volta Region.

Adoley will switch from Greater Accra to the ‘Fanteland’ (Central Region) while Fanny assumes Greater Accra (‘Ga Land’) stature.
This round is to show how tolerant each of the contestants has grown during their 13 weeks of stay together in the house and to make the point that "we are all one as Ghanaians," as well as prove each contestant’s versatility.
The third round will be a fashion show, during which the contestants will model in contemporary evening and casual outfits, going traditional for sometime.
In an interview with the Times Weekend, Hamid Yakubu, Producer of the contest, talk about how the contest has improved over the last year, saying "the quality of contestants improved appreciably".

"Unlike last year, the contestants have been able to explore and give detailed meaning of the varied cultures and traditions in their respective regions.
"They also managed to present their different cultures mostly considered as archaic in an interesting and entertaining manner, thus disabusing people’s wrong perception on such traditional values and making them popular," he added
Commenting on the event’s objective, he said "yes, we are achieving what the event was set out to do."
Tomorrow’s show will be spiced up with performances from guest artistes, including the Ghana Dance Ensemble and singer, Elivava.
The event with the theme: "Redefining Beauty to Promote National Unity", is the brainchild of TV3 Network and is sponsored by Onetouch Ghana Limited.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Security Man Jailed 20 Yrs For Incest

By Stephen K. Effah
Wednesday, 11 June 2008


THE man who had a child by his 16-year-old daughter a year ago, was yesterday jailed 20 years by an Accra Circuit Court.

Forty-five-year-old Laud Ford Mensah, a security officer, was charged with incest, and was convicted on his own plea by the court, presided over by Mrs Georgina Mensah Datsa.

Looking sober in the dock yesterday, Mensah told the court: "My Lord, I am guilty." This, made everyone exclaimed in surprise, resulting in the shout of "order! order in court!" by court orderlies.

The prosecution told the court that Mensah divorced for the past eight years, lived with his five daughters at Agbogba in Accra.

To keep her from coming into contact with people, Mensah confined his daughter to their home and sexually assaulted her many times until she got pregnant.

On his arrest on Friday, June 6, Mensah confessed to the police that he had had sex with his daughter and admitted being the father of her child who is not a year old and whom he named Felicia Mensah.

He did so without the knowledge of his family because he said he did not want anyone to know about his affair with his daughter.

The prosecution said his daughter told the police that her father started making advances at her last year, and threatened to kill her if she refused to give in, so she obliged.

But, when he resumed making advances at her later after the child was born, she refused to give in and reported her ordeal to the Madina police who arrested him.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cabbie Jailed For Stealing A Car

By Stephen K.Effah
Tuesday, 10 June 2008


A 47-year-old cabbie was last Thursday sentenced to four years’ imprisonment by a circuit court in Accra for stealing a taxi-cab he was entrusted with.

The cabbie, Awudu Nelson, was convicted on his own plea by the court presided over by Mrs. Georgina Mensah Datsa.

Presenting the case for the prosecution, Chief Inspector Mary Adika, told the court that Madam Juliana Addey told a friend of hers about her taxi-cab for which she needed a driver.

She said, on April 3, Madam Addey’s friend introduced Nelson to her as a taxi cab driver.

Consequently, Madam Addey engaged him to drive the taxi but asked him to park the car after work everyday at her house.

The prosecution told the court that since that very day, Madam Addey never set eyes on Nelson again. She then complained to her friend about the development and they mounted a search for Nelson.

According to the prosecution, on May 22, someone informed Madam Addey that Nelson was hiding at Agbogbloshie Market so she informed the Kaneshie Police and together they traced him to the market and arrested him.

During interrogation, Nelson told the police that while working on April 3, his first day of engagement, he stopped under the Kaneshie footbridge to pick a passenger, when he spotted a mini bus full of police officers so he sped off.

He said, he drove towards Abossey Okai where he abandoned the taxi and absconded.

He said when he went to the place later to pick the taxi, he could not find it there.

Stars Of The Future

By Stephen K.Effah
Saturday, 07 June 2008


IF the flair and performance exhibited by the 12 young men and women at the National Theatre in Accra last Saturday was anything to go by, then television viewers will for the next 10 weeks witness a classic and keenly contested show — Stars of the Future.

At the launch of the Season Three of the event last week, each of the 12 finalists, made up of five chaps and seven ladies, sang their hearts out to justify their inclusion in the ever-growing popular urban music reality TV show.

They are Max Joe, Dan, Adjoa, Max, Anita, Sheila, David, Stephanie, Adina, Deborah, Ike and Laureta.

Obviously, being their first performance on stage at the packed National Theatre auditorium, most of the contestants panicked, but that did not affect their rendition of songs from the camps of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Lemar, Westlife and Luther Vandros among others.

Undoubtedly, this year’s event is expected to raise the bar from the previous ones won by Irene Logan and Justice Nhyira Owen in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

As exhibited at the launch, each of the 12 finalists is poised to battle out in a musical style for the ultimate prize of an international recording deal and a brand new car.

For the judges; singer Bibi Brew, recording engineer, Zapp Mallet and radio presenter, Doreen Andoh, it will be a herculean task to determine who becomes the next music star. And for the public who have 70 per cent of the votes, it will not be easy to choose a favourite due to the calibre of the contestants.

The Stars of the Future music reality TV show, the brainchild of Charter House Productions, aims at harnessing musical talents of people between the ages of 16 and 26 in the country.

Every week, the finalists would deliver live musical performances ranging from highlife through gospel to soul among others, to a large audience at different venues which will be telecast on GTV from June 22.

This year, radio favourites can also enjoy the performances on Citi FM in Accra, Kapital Radio in Kumasi and Skyy Power in Takoradi, according to the organisers.

The number of contestants would be trimmed down to four through weekly evictions which will be based on the contestants’ performance and the number of votes they secure. The final four would then battle it out at the grand finale of the event.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Court Refuses Bail To Four Dansoman Murder Suspects

By Stephen K.Effah
Tuesday, 03 June 2008


THE four people arrested for their complicity in the murder and robbery of the 72-year-old pensioner, Emmanuel Ayeh Asare, at his Dansoman Estate residence on February 29, were yesterday remanded in police custody after being refused bail by a magistrate court in Accra.

They are: Emmanuel Ayeh Asare, step grandson of the deceased and Jonas Kpakpo Allotey, unemployed, Abeiku Thompson, a drinking bar operator and Ayisha Razak, a hairdresser.

Two others, whose names the police gave only as Buju and Fuseini, suspected to have received or bought some of the stolen items, are on the run.

This was the second time that Ayeh Asare, popularly known as K.B and Thompson had appeared before the court.

Both Asare and Kpakpo, also known as Saamoa, are facing charges of conspiracy, murder and stealing, while Thompson and Ayisha are charged with dishonestly receiving.

Although their charges were read to them, their pleas were not taken. They are to appear again on June 17.

When the case was called, the prosecutor, police Inspector Joseph Kwao-Deho applied to substitute the charge sheet presented to the court on May 20, in view of the arrest of Saamoa and Ayisha. The application was granted by the court presided over by Ms Mariama Mamosa.

He told the court that the docket had been sent to the Attorney General’s Office for advice and the police are making efforts to arrest the other two suspects. He, therefore, requested that the accused should not be granted bail because they could interfere in investigations.

But counsel for Abeiku and Ayisha, Bannerman-Williams, objected, saying "so if it will take the Attorney-General 10 years to study the docket, would that mean they would continue to be in custody all this time?"

He argued that the charge preferred against his clients should not be linked with the murder charge preferred against Ayeh Asare and Kpakpo, since their involvement was after the murder had been committed.

He said in the case of Ayisha, the cloth was given to her for safe-keeping while Abeiku has totally denied receiving any item, adding "Saamoa denied having given any of the stolen items to Abeiku".

"Great injustice will be done if their (Ayisha and Abeiku) offence is tied up to that of K.B and Saamoa," he told the court, adding the A-G would even ask the police to de-link the charge after studying the docket.

However, the magistrate, refused the bail, but advised the investigator of the case to de-link the charge otherwise she would be compelled to grant Ayisha and Abeiku bail on their next appearance in court.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Reflecting On Festivals — A Critique Of NAFAC

By Stephen K. Effah, Akosombo
Saturday, 31 May 2008


WHAT started as a small festival in the 1960s in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region resulted in the birth of a National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC), to create a common platform for the promotion of national unity and integration through culture and arts.

Four decades down the lane, this unifying biennial initiative has been hit by a number of challenges ranging from postponement through lack of funds to continuing waning interest.

However, NAFAC has in some way, projected and promoted Ghanaian identity through culture and the arts on the international front, thus making it worthwhile.

At a four-day training workshop for some selected journalists reporting on culture, organised by the Cul-tural Initiatives Support Progra-mme, an EU funded programme, resource persons and participants made a critique of NAFAC.

Leading a discussion on the topic: "Reflecting on Festivals-A Critique of NAFAC", Efo Kodjo
Mawugbe, Director of the National Theatre, noted that it has become evident that traditional festivals are well established in the country than governmental festivals.

The governmental festivals, he explained, are those which are instituted by government to address certain needs in the country, and have changing themes all the time, like NAFAC and PANAFEST.

These festivals, he underscored, have not been internalised locally for the people of this country to appreciate and participate in them, saying "the people of Cape Coast for instance do not see themselves as part of PANAFEST. Meanwhile people take days off to attend their traditional festivals".

On NAFAC, he expressed concern about the lack of consistency, attributing it to non-flow of funds for its organisation, noting that it took 10 years to organise the Brong-Ahafo event after that of Eastern Region.

He said it is important that the needed funds are raised for the festival, noting "funds sometimes arrive late and in most cases, monies for the NAFAC celebration arrive after the event".

Further, he said, the traditional authorities and the various cultural groups invited to the festival mostly charge unreasonable prices for participating, noting "people want to be paid before they carry their chiefs in palanquins".

Efo Mawugbe admitted the fact that the organisation of NAFAC over the years has been fraught with problems, adding "perhaps, organisers have not done a review of the past events".
He underscored the need to have a permanent planning committee or secretariat which is currently absent in the system, so that the events could be planned ahead of time.

He said that NAFAC has benefited a lot from military regimes than in civilian governments, especially during General I.K. Acheampong’s rule, but said "the real politicians do not even want to hear about NAFAC.

On whether it is worthwhile to celebrate NAFAC in view of its challenges, Efo Mawugbe said "it is, because as a nation, there must be a time to take stock of things that are considered as our values. NAFAC is a forum to address the ills in society, like explicit lyrics and dances".

The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture’s takeover of NAFAC organisation from the National Commission on Culture which has the rich experience and the right human resource could kill the festival, he said.

The Editor of the Graphic Showbiz, Nanabanyin Dadson, said "mediocrity" is what is collapsing NAFAC, noting that the event, especially the last one in Kumasi, was faced up to low participation and technical problems and described it as "a rather sad one", noting that the stages were improvised.

He expressed concern about how the country is "allowing politics to creep into the arts", as he recounted how the government made efforts to borrow money for the Wa NAFAC celebration, which never was the case in other regions.

Mr Kwasi Gyan Apenteng, Programme Coordinator of CISP, advocated a NAFAC Fund to provide financial resources for the organisation of the festival.

He noted that NAFAC has come to stay, saying "people are passionate about it and so we need to research into it to make sure that it is well planned and organised to make impact".

On his part, Appiah Agyei of CISP identified language at NAFAC celebrations as a barrier. He noted that the indigenous people often do not understand the English language used, thus they are deprived of information at the function.

Contributing, one of the participants, Maureen Apraku-Dentu of GTV, said people have not developed interest in NAFAC because they are not aware of the significance of the festival, and therefore called for media involvement in the festival.

Abidjan 'Mami Water'

Saturday, 31 May 2008

(This article is by a group of journalists reporting on culture, including myself, who visited a shrine during a four-day training workshop on culture at Akosombo.)

WHEN you go to the beach and see that large expanse of water, do you ever imagine there could be a well laid out city under there, populated by beings, half human, half fish, whose spiritual powers impact on human life and activity?

Well, just across the Adomi Bridge in the Eastern Region, there is the ‘Abidjan Mami Water’ shrine where a 71-year-old priest in charge claims they tap spiritual powers from Mami Water, a mermaid from a city under the sea, to break spells and heal a multiplicity of sicknesses.

Getting to Abidjan Mami water shrine, which is about four hundred metres on the right turn after the Adome Bridge from Atimpoku round- about, one should not find it difficult to locate, as almost everyone in the immediate vicinity knows where and how to get to it.

Upon arrival at the junction to the shrine, one is met with an erected wall with a roof supported by bamboo poles. On the wall is a mural of a Merman in a red sash on his torso and a blue sash enshrouding parts of his Piscean tail.

INSCRIPTION

In his right hand is a pistol and in his left, something that looks closely like a double headed sickle. To his right are two female human initiates and on his left are two dwarfs. Above his head is the inscription ‘ABIDJAN MAMI WATER’.

Once inside the village one is immediately aware of the pristine calm and immaculate cleanliness of the environment. Our entourage was met upon entering the community by a youth in his early twenties. He could speak passable Akan so we were able to communicate our intentions of meeting with the elders of this society.

A few paces further opens our view to a clearing in the middle of the village, its main feature being a very old and gnarled neem tree, which has roots defiantly snaking out of the ground forming seating areas for the inhabitants of the community.

We exchanged greetings with the few inhabitants we found seated there and they were open and welcoming, while ushering us into the main shrine compound.

TRADITIONS

We were offered seats. As we were about to sit, an elderly looking man in a batik print cloth wrapped on his waist, a white ‘Chicago Grand prix’ T-shirt on, and a white calico cloth draped on his neck, stepped out of one of the mud hut.

This turned out to be the keeper of this mystery, Efo Agbenyo. With a clean shaven head and a thin layer of greying beard, Efo looks more like your average grandpa instead of the head of an ancient secret African society. His elderly but yet youthful demeanour, hides his true years and he could easily pass for a man of fifty.

In Efo’s opinion, the traditions of the Mami Water shrine are void of evil or wrongdoing as the gods of his shrine abhor all such malevolence. When asked why the society spurred on by the doctrines of the Christian church is constantly on their case, and why movies portray them in such biased views; to this he simply said: "I do what I need to be doing on a daily basis, I speak evil of no one and I pay little attention to people who do."

Abidjan Mami Water as Efo is popularly referred to, simply snickered after hushing up his son who attempted to answer if Christians or pastors visit the shrine. To this question he simply said: "No comment!"

Leaving the compound, we step into the main shrine which is adorned with murals of rainbow coloured snakes, more mere-men and women. Surprisingly, within the corridor of the shrine gateway is a painting of Jesus Christ on the wall.

In explaining the reason for this merger of beliefs, he gave the history of the shrine which began with his late father Togbui Adawusu Dophe.
Togbui was said to have gone hunting one day as was his profession at the time, with a stroke of good luck that day, he bagged 14 Akrantie (grasscutter). Upon reaching his home, he fell into a deep coma, thus presumed dead by some. He ‘resurrected’ after seven days with instructions from Mami-water to set up a shrine.

POWERS

The picture of Jesus, Efo Agbenyo said, was commissioned by his father in response to the imagery he found in the aqueous world of Mami-Water.

Togbui Adawusu Dophe was well renowned and highly respected. One can obviously tell by the reverent way with which he is referred to or spoken of. Togbui moved the shrine to its present location in 1956, shortly after the Adomi Bridge was built.

According to Efo Agbenyo, Mami Water required a bigger water body to dwell in, so Togbui moved his whole family and shrine from Akatsi to Adome. He, however, passed away in 2003, at 150 years.

Further into the main shrine compound in an enclosure are numerous black and white photographs, among them are several prominent Ghanaians including former presidents J.J. Rawlings and Gen. E.K. Kotoka. When we inquired about the photos, he would not comment on them but he referred to one in particular who happened to be a man hoping to join the police service, but was rejected onseveral occasions was finally drafted after Mami Water helped him out.

Efo also claims to have curative and healing powers, the shrine, he also said, deals with women with issues of barrenness, spiritual cleansing and aid people who want visas to travel. People are said to travel from all over the country, neighbouring countries and even from overseas to consult Mami Water.

Speaking to some inhabitants of the community, we inquired of their opinion on the shrine about an elderly woman seated on the ground peeling some cassava. She eloquently started with "my name is Comfort Adjeku."

When we proceeded to question her in English, the next line was in Ewe and we had to recruit the services of a translator. In Comfort’s view, the shrine’s presence in the community brought them good luck and bountiful produce during harvest. She was of the view that it is still relevant and pertinent in these times.

Our translator, Sammy, a Junior High School student, living at Atimpoku was interviewed next.. In his view the shrine was no longer relevant as the founder Togbui Adawusu had passed on.

VIEWPOINT

Regardless of what anyone’s viewpoint is, the shrine definitely commands authority and respect of not only the indigenous people and visitors, but also, of traditional leaders and other shrines within the vicinity and elsewhere. One proof of such respect accorded the Abidjan Mami-Water shrine, is a certificate of honour from the Akwamu stool, presented by Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, and awarded in 1987 by Odeneho Kwafo Akoto II, Akwamuhene.