THE Sunyani Magistrate Court, presided over by Mr Albert Zoogah, has granted bail in the sum of Gh¢5,000 with two sureties each to be justified to five policemen of the Dragon Unit of the Brong Ahafo Regional Police Command for allegedly extorting CFA100, 000 from two Ivorian traders in the Techiman Municipality in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The court also granted bail in the sum of GH¢10,000 with two sureties to be justified to a Techiman-based businessman, Mr Kwadwo Adjei, who is also alleged to have extorted CFA 450,000 from the two Ivorians, namely Amadu Watara and Salifu Watara.
The five policemen, who pleaded not guilty to the charge of extortion, are Sergeant Peter Okanta, Corporal Martin Adjei, Lance Corporal Richard Oppong, Constables Gabriel Yaw Ansong and William Nutakor.
They are to appear before the court on July 7, 2008.
The presiding Judge granted the bail following an application by the counsel of the five policemen and the civilian and upheld that the charge preferred against the accused persons was a second degree felony, for which, according to him, the court had the jurisdiction to grant bail, adding that the granting of bail in such cases was also at the discretion of the court.
Police Superintendent (Supt) Ernest Owusu, who presented the facts of the case in court, said the complainants were Ivorian traders from the Northern side of La Cote d’Ivoire, which is being held by the rebels and following the war, there had been a shortage of the smaller denominations of the CFA franc in that part of the country.
He said the complainants therefore decided to come to a border town in Ghana called Kaba, where they met a middleman called Adama, who told them that he knew someone who would be able to change the higher CFA franc denominations into coins.
The prosecutor told the court that on June 1, 2008 Adama led them to Techiman at about 2.30pm and met Kwadwo Adjei, who drove them in his car with registration number RT 1765 AF to Techiman and assured the complainants that he could change the money into coins for them.
Supt. Owusu said Adjei took the complainants to a house at Dwomo, a suburb in the Techiman municipality, and collected CFA450, 000 francs from them to go and change into loose change for them, adding that while waiting for Adjei in the house, another taxi-cab with three occupants pulled up and they told the complainants that Adjei had asked them to bring them to the office.
He said the occupants drove the taxi-cab to the Techiman-Wenchi road and at a distance, they were signalled by Adjei who was driving his car, to stop, but they did not stop and while on the road, the five policemen who were also on board a police service vehicle with registration number GP 1626 over-took them and asked them to stop.
Supt Owusu said the policemen jumped out of their vehicle with their rifles and the complainants took to their heels, but they were pursed by the policemen who caught up with one of the complainants, Amadu, and subjected him to a search and collected CFA 100,000 franc from him.
He stated that thereafter the policemen took Amadu to the Tuobodom Police Station, also in the Techiman Municipality, and about 8.10 pm on the same day, the five policemen came back to the police station and released him (Amadu) from custody.
Supt Owusu further told the court that the policemen took Amadu back to Adjei and he (Adjei) drove him (Amadu) in his car to Jakoline, another suburb of Techiman and abandoned him there.
A report was made to the police, which led to the arrest of the five policemen and the civilian and after investigation, they were charge with the offence and arraigned.
Supt Owusu told the court that investigation into the case was still ongoing.