Seven young men, who were among 31 alleged secessionists picked up by the police in the Volta Region, broke down in tears after an Accra Circuit Court remanded them into custody at the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).
The accused persons have been jointly charged with conspiracy to commit crime, rioting with weapons, and participating in campaign of a prohibited organisation namely Western Togoland and to attend meeting of same.
The Court, presided over by Mrs Rosemary Baah Torsu, preserved their pleas pending further investigations into the matter.
Prosecuting, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sylvester Asare, prayed the Court not to take their pleas because their purpose in court was to “get the accused remanded properly in custody.”
ASP Asare said the police were in court to meet a constitutional requirement of 48 hours, and that the offence took place in another region.
Some security personnel from the National Security, BNI, the Military and other affiliate organisations had travelled to the Volta Region for further investigations, he said.
Defence Counsel, Theophilus Donkor, noted that the police had already breached the constitutional requirement of 48 hours by keeping the accused persons in custody.
He argued that the grant of bail was not based on the fact that accused persons’ pleas had been taken or not, adding; “Every suspect is entitled to bail.”
According to Defence Counsel, some of the accused persons were only trading, a few on their way to farms and others bathing when they were rounded up.
Counsel quizzed prosecution over the arrest of the 19-year old female, saying; “what strength has the 19-year old got to commit the offence preferred against her.”
He noted that his clients had not been given food and had not taken their bath for the past three days in custody.
Mr Donkor, therefore, prayed the Court to order the State to give him and some relations access to the accused persons, whiles in BNI custody.
The Court, after listening to both sides, remanded all the accused persons to reappear on October 13 and ordered the State to give them access to their lawyer and relations.
It said prosecution should see to it that they were given what they needed, especially food.
On September 25, this year, at Juapong in the Volta Region, the accused persons, allegedly armed themselves with offensive weapons – cutlasses, rifles and other related weapons – and engaged in rioting in relation to a prohibited organisation known as the Western Togoland group.