An Accra High Court has convicted former Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board, Akrasi Sarpong of contempt.
He was found guilty over his comments after a High Court granted bail to one Chief Sunny Ikechukwu Benjy Eke, a 53- year-old businessman, and his alleged accomplice, James Eleke Chukwu, 47, a second-hand clothes dealer in Accra.
The applicant, Chief Eke was arrested and remanded in Prisons custody in 2013 for allegedly attempting to smuggle 281,604 grammes of liquid cocaine with a street value of over $12.5 million into the country.
The drug was allegedly concealed in a 40-footer container filled with 1,946 boxes of shampoo imported from Bolivia in South America, to Ghana.
But Mr. Sarpong, unsatisfied with the bail, is quoted to have said that the terms for the bail were very unfortunate because Chief Eke was known to have jumped bail in Brazil. The applicants thus sued the Former NACOB boss for contempt
The court, presided over by Justice Charles Edward Ekow Baiden today held that Mr. Sarpong’s comment was meant to derogate the authority of the court that granted bail to the suspects.
Additionally, the presiding judge said the comments were wrong and unacceptable.
Mr. Sarpong was sentenced to sign a bond to be of good behaviour and in default, serve two months in prison with hard labour.
Second accused, a graphic journalist who published the said comments was also sentenced to pay a fine of GHC5, 000.00 and in default serve two months in prison
Mr. Sarpong alleged that all international drug agencies were hunting for Chief Eke but could not arrest him until he was nabbed in Ghana.
He argued that the judge, in using his discretion as required by law, should have considered the past record of the suspect, which was public knowledge.
The NACOB boss said the fight against transnational organised crime is not for the security agencies alone but the whole justice delivery system in the country.
He warned that if the suspect escaped, nobody should blame NACOB because the board would use meagre state resources to monitor him (the suspect) as “he walks free on the streets of Accra, a situation which he could take advantage of to escape again.”
He said while the Judiciary upheld the 1992 Constitution and the rule of law, there was the need to understand that the characters involved in transnational organised crime, such as Chief Eke, could undermine democracy, promote impunity of the private sector against the public sector, engender corruption both in the public and the private sectors, as well as give cause for the rise of fake and wrong role models.
“For NACOB, the condition under which the accused was granted bail was not the best, judging from his past record of jumping bail. Besides, we are aware that the wheel of justice is a slow process, but no matter how slow it is, justice is more likely to prevail than injustice,” Mr Akrasi Sarpong noted.
However, lawyers for the suspects urged the court to convict the NACOB boss for contempt.
In their affidavit in support of the motion for contempt, they stated among other things that the comments made and published in the Daily Graphic edition of June 20, 2016 were prejudicial and could affect justice delivery in the case.
It said it was necessary Mr. Sarpong is dragged before the court to purge himself of the charge of contempt.