July 21, 2024
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Alleged Coup: We never planned any Arab Spring demo – ACP Agordzo to Court

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dr. Benjamin Agordzo has told the High Court in Accra that, “There was no planning to execute an Arab Spring demonstration.”

According to him, “We never planned any Arab Spring demonstration,” aimed at overthrowing the government but he “only expressed my opinion on what Arab Spring is.”

The Senior Police Officer has also told the Court that, “the prosecution has not been able to link me to any other motive apart from the ones that I have stated,” to the court.

ACP Benjamin Agordzo is one of the 10 persons accused of allegedly plotting to overthrow the government and are standing trial.

Dr Frederick Yao Mac-Palm, the Chief Executive Officer of the Citadel Hospital at Aladjo who is said to have masterminded the plot has since passed on to glory with the remaining nine facing trial.

Dr Agordzo, who has been a police officer for “almost 36 years”, pleaded not guilty to the charge of abetment and is on bail.

He has denied any wrongdoing in his reference to discussions he is alleged to have made on a Take Action Ghana – Arab Spring Platform, per the prosecution were instigating others to stage a coup.

Under Cross-Examination from State Prosecutors led by Winifred Sarpong, a Principal State Attorney, (PSA), ACP Agordzo said there was nowhere in their discussions that a reference could be made to an intention of an “unlawful” takeover of government.

When put to him under cross-examination by the PSA, that, his conversations on page 76 of his Witness Statement showed that he was planning an uprising, the Senior Police Officer said his conversations were taken out of context.

“The context within which we have spoken to that point is on demonstration and a peaceful demonstration for that matter, so that could not have been any unlawful takeover of government,” ACP Agordzo Stated.

“Besides, an uprising simply means an act of opposition and a peaceful demonstration is an act of opposition therefore the constitutionally guaranteed rights of demonstration cannot be construed a takeover from government,” he further explained to the Court.

It was also the case of the Prosecution that, because ACP Agordzo knew the discussions he was having as per (page 76 of Exhibit AE) were illegal, formed the basis for which he stated that he was restrained by his profession.

ACP Agordzo who disagreed with that preposition from the Prosecution, offered an explanation and point to former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo’s recent pronouncement that, she in now ungagged by reference to mean, she was no more restrained following her retirement from the bench.

“I will explain that. All of us in one way or the other have things that restrain us. It may be our careers, it may be the positions
that we hold in our careers so as a police officer, I knew that much as demonstrations are constitutionally guaranteed, I could not physically take part in it. That is what I meant by restraint,” he explained.

“Recently, the former Chief Justice said she was ungagged implying that she was restrained at a point in time and she could not speak about some issues so when I said I was restrained, I meant because I was a policeman, I could not physically be part of the demonstration and not for the reason they are speculating,” ACP Agordzo noted.

When it was again put to him that contrary to the definition he had given to uprising, the real definition of uprising is an act of resistance, rebellion, revolt, insurrection, mutiny, revolution and insurgence against a government,” ACP points to various online definitions of uprising.

“There are various definitions when you go online and one of them in respect of uprising is an act of opposition. I want to add that, when you go to Wikipedia, you will get all kinds of definitions but in both uprising and Arab Spring, you will read Wikipedia sources giving you the kinds of definitions you are giving.

“Wikipedia sources are not the best sources when it comes to references. They are not the best because they are free online encyclopedias that anybody at all can edit.

“That is why when you make references and you state Wikipedia, professors and others will not take you seriously. When you go to Encyclopedia Britannia and others, they will give peer-reviewed definitions,” he explained.

It was again the case of the Prosecution that, his comment in Exhibit AE, the Spring Board Platform, the Think Tank platform and his chats with Dr Mac Palm (deceased) encouraged him and other accused persons by providing them with emotional and intellectual assistance.

But, ACP Agordzo in his response said, “I never provided anybody emotional support to do anything unlawful.”

“The support i gave was in respect of the democratic processes such as embarking on the rights to demonstrate seeking constitutional interpretation in court and rebranding TAG as a civil society organization.

“My own motivation for joining TAG was based on democratic values that were espoused in the profile sent to me by A1 (Deceased) and I stayed that course throughout my chats with Al (Deceased) on the general platform of TAG Ghana, TAG Think Tank and TAG SpringBoard. Beyond speculation, the prosecution has not been able to link me to any other motive apart from the ones that I have stated,” he told the Court.

Further cross-examination

Earlier when asked to tell the Court how many TAG platforms he was on, he said “I have mentioned that I was on TAG General Platform, the Think Tank Platform and TAG Spring Board platform.

ACP Agordzo intimated to the whole making reference to his Witness Statement that, he had personal chats with A1 (deceased).

ACP Agordzo who said he is almost 36 years said he was unable to respond to Prosecution’s question that, he was aware that he is supposed to uphold the police professional standards at all times as a Senior Police Office.

“I am not here on disciplinary action. I am unable to answer the question,” ACP Agordzo stated after an objection to the question was overruled by the Court.

Ms Sarpong, the PSA, further said to him that, the professional standards of the Police also include not getting involved in any activity that is likely to bring the name of the Service into disrepute, but despite an objection from Lawyer Kormivi Dzortsi, the panel said the question was relevant.

In his response, ACP Agordzo said, “I have always upheld the democratic values of this country and that is why I have served in the Ghana Police Service for 36 years.”

“It is in pursuit of these democratic values that I advised TAG to inform the police of their intended demonstration and also asked them to rebrand their NGO to attract funding. Again in pursuit of the same democratic values, I have spoken against political vigilantism which threatens the democracy of the State.

“I would like to put on record that in 2016, I was one of the two people in Ghana who managed the general election in Ghana. These are the values that I have upheld as a police officer and that election turned out to be one of the most peaceful if not the most peaceful
in Ghana’s history,” ACP Agordzo told the Court.

Prosecution out of context

It was the case of the Prosecution to him that, even though ACP Agordzo had stated that, he was against vigilantism and also indicated in the Witness Statement that he was against the arming of National Security, page 76 of Exhibit A he was the one who suggested to Dr Mac Palm (deceased) to form a TAG security Wing to deal with all security related issues.

“This is a typical example of prosecution taking things out of context,” ACP Agordzo remarked.

“The preceding conversation A1 (Dr Mac Palm) asked me whether we should have TAG security or should divide them into two where we have TAG police or TAG military and I suggested that we should put them together. I said we should have TAG security to deal with all security-related issues. This was just a suggestion and it had nothing to do with the speculation of the prosecution,” he told the Court.

While pointing to ACP Agordzo’s Witness Statement, having mentioned that TAG was a non-governmental organization, (NGO), asked him if as a senior police officer, NGOs were supposed to have security Wings?, ACP Agordzo explained.

“There are various NGOs talking about security-related issues in Ghana. They are called on radio and television to share their views and those views are not detrimental to the State and this particular context, the Security issues we are talking about borders on Anti-Political Vigilantism amongst others so security there does not mean that we are taking arms or anything.

“We have various security analysts in Ghana analyzing security issues and they are not a threat to this country and that was what we were talking about,” he told the Court.

When it was put to him that in this instance he was not talking about making security analysis or security issues but rather the formation of Security Wing of TAG, ACP Agordzo pointed to the context of his conversation.

“The context indicates that whether it is called Security Wing or Security Unit, the essence of it was to discuss security issues on radio and television,” he told the Court.

The Prosecution said it was in that same spirit of forming a security Wing that the discussion of Arab Spring came up between him and Dr Mac Palm (Deceased) in that same conversation.

But, ACP Agordzo said, “That question on Arab Spring as I have already stated in my witness statement was a direct question to me and I shared my opinion on it.

“Secondly, the prosecution is equating Arab Spring to unlawful or violent take over of constitutional government which is untenable. There are two types of demonstrations.

“One is a planned demonstration and the other is an unplanned demonstration. Arab Spring is one of the unplanned demonstrations. It is spontaneous and so it is unplanned so when one talks about Arab Spring, one is talking about an unplanned demonstration. Besides, Arab Spring is a pro-democracy protest of showing dissent,” ACP Agordzo stated to the Court on July 25, 2023 Court sitting.

ACP Agordzo and Colonel Samuel Kodzo Gameli, who are each facing the charge of abetment have pleaded not guilty and are facing trial before a three panel at the High Court.

The other accused persons are Donya Kafui, Bright Alan Debrah Ofosu, Johannes Zikpi, Corporal Seidu Abubakar, Lance Corporal Ali Solomon, Corporal Sylvester Akanpewon and Warrant Officer (II) Esther Saan Dekuwine and have all pleaded not guilty to Conspiracy to commit crime to wit; high treason and treason.

The panel members chaired by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, also include Justice Hafisata Amaleboba and Justice Stephen Oppong, all being Justices of the Court of Appeal sitting as additional High Court judges.

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