Social media activist and convenor of the #FixTheCountry pressure group has filed an application at the High Court praying the Court to throw out the Attorney General’s bill of indictment and summary of evidence filed against him to stand trial at the High Court on two counts of Treason felony.
Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor has been indicted by the State on two counts of treason felony contrary to section 182(b) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and treason felony contrary to section 182(b) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
In Court today 13 October 2022, a lawyer for #FixTheCountry convenor, Justice Srem-Sia told the Court presided over by Justice Mary Yanzuh, that he has filed the said application and served it on the State.
Assistant State Attorney, Alice Odame Koranteng when she stood up on her feet indicated in Court that the Attorney-General’s department is yet to see the application.
However, the state she said will get it and respond appropriately to it. She, therefore, asked the Court for an adjournment so she can do the needful.
Justice Mary Yanzuh’s Court after hearing the parties ruled that the case cannot continue until the application of the accused person has been heard.
To that end, she adjourned the sitting to Friday 21 October 2022, for the applicant’s lawyers to move their motion.
Bill of Indictment
The Bill of Indictment dated 30 May 2022 and signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, which is now being challenged by #FixTheCountry convenor, notes that “Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor, in February 2022, in Ghana, through a post on your Twitter social media account published to people in Ghana and the rest of the world, endeavoured to usurp the executive powers of the Republic by advocating for the violent overthrow of the constitution”.
According to the summary of the evidence, the state indicates that it intends to call three witnesses at trial. They are Andrew Okyere, No 55341 D/CONST Dunstan Guba and D/CPL Mark Owusu.
The state will also be tendering some eight exhibits to support their case at the trial. They are the investigation cautioned statement of the accused (Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor) dated 11 February 2022, Charged statement of the accused dated 11 February 2022 and the investigation cautioned statement of the accused dated 16 February 2022.
The remaining exhibits are the charge statement of the accused dated April 1, 2022, Facebook and Twitter posts of the accused person from February 2021 to February 2022, the Facebook post of the accused person on 30 April 2022, an Intelligence report from the Cybercrime unit, and an Intelligence report from National Security.
In a series of Facebook posts that led to the arrest of Barker-Vormawor on 11 February 2022 and his ongoing prosecution, he described the Ghana Armed Forces as “useless” for not acting despite the public uproar against the Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy), which came into effect on 1 May 2022.
“If this E-Levy passes after this cake bullshit, I will do the coup myself. Useless Army!” Barker-Vormawor wrote in one of his posts.
In another post, he said: “Okay, let’s try again. If this E-Levy still passes after this cake bullshit, then may God …. Help us to resist the oppressor’s rule, with all our will and might forevermore. (2x). Useless Army. Anaa, the value is the same?”
Oliver Mawuse Barker-Vormawor was picked up by the Tema Regional Police on Saturday 12 February 2022, for allegedly saying that he would stage a coup in Ghana if Parliament passed the E-Levy Bill.
A police statement published on 12 February 2022 said that Barker-Vormawor is being kept at the Tema Regional Police Command to assist with further investigations into his social media post.
First court sitting
After his charges were read to him in open court on 14 February, Assistant Superintendent of Police Sylvester Asare, read the brief facts. Barker-Vormawor’s lawyer, Akoto Ampaw, applied for bail for his client but the state opposed the application.
In her ruling at the Ashaiman district court, Magistrate Eleanor Barnes Botchway said she did not have the mandate to grant bail in a case involving a charge of treason felony.
She subsequently remanded the accused into police custody and, working with the two-week timeline required by law to have the accused on remand make an appearance in court, she adjourned the sitting to 28 February 2022.
The brief facts as presented in court by DSP Sylvester Asare state that “the accused person is a lawyer and convenor of a social movement, namely ‘FixTheCountry’.
Sometime in February 2022, the Ashaiman Police received a report that the accused person was inciting some groups of persons believed to be members of the FixTheCountry movement.
“That on receipt of the report, the police mounted surveillance on the accused person until his arrest at Kotoka International Airport on Friday 11 February 2022, when he arrived from the United Kingdom (UK). Preliminary investigation has revealed that the accused is a lawyer and a PhD student at Cambridge University, UK.”
The facts further say that “it has also been established during investigation that the accused for some time now has been inciting some group[s] of persons through the social media [sic] to undertake an unlawful enterprise to usurp the executive powers of the Government of Ghana”.
“Pursuant to his preparation to usurp the executive powers of the Government of Ghana, accused further published on his Facebook wall that the Ghana army is useless and went ahead to declare his intention in a Facebook post to stage a coup if the Electronic Transaction Levy [E-Levy] is passed by Parliament.”