In recent news, six more members of the outlawed Western Togoland Restoration Front (WTRF) have been sentenced to jail, serving a total of 13 and a half years. This decision was made by an Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Mary Maame Ekue Yanzuh. In addition to the prison terms, the six convicts were fined a total of GH¢15,600, with an extra 22 months in prison as the consequence for failing to pay the fine.
Understanding the Convictions
The six individuals, namely Gabriel Godfred Govina, Benjamin Gbadago, Cephas Zoddanu, Richard Doglo Ametepe, Cosmos Havor, and Vincent Ramseyer Atsu-Galey, were found guilty on 11 counts of belonging or contributing to the success of a prohibited group. This offense is contrary to the Prohibited Organisations Act, 1976 (SMCD 20), which carries a maximum sentence of five years.
It’s important to note that four other individuals accused of being members of the WTRF—John Gbedemah, Godwin Awudza, Excel Liberty Aheto Kuegbesika, and Divine Nyadzinyor—were acquitted last month and discharged by the court.
The WTRF and Security Threats
The Western Togoland Restoration Front, led by Charles Kwami Kudzordzi (aka Papavi Hogbedetor) and later Michael Koku Kwabla (aka Togbe Yesu), has a history of aiming to secede the Volta and Oti regions from Ghana to form Western Togoland. This secessionist movement led to the formation of the WTRF, which sought to use force to achieve this goal, encompassing the Volta and Oti regions, as well as parts of the Eastern and Northern regions.
The sentencing of these six individuals highlights the seriousness of the security threats posed by the activities of the WTRF. Justice Yanzuh emphasized the potential for a serious security crisis, underscoring the necessity of swift action by security agencies.
In her judgment, Justice Yanzuh opted not to impose the maximum sentence of five years due to several factors. She considered the ages of the convicts and the fact that they were first-time offenders. This leniency led to varying jail terms, ranging from six months to three years.
The Prosecution’s Case
The prosecution presented a compelling case against the WTRF and the convicts. According to the prosecution, the WTRF planned to embark on massive protests and civil disobedience to further their aims. In September 2020, they blocked the road from Aveyime to Accra with sand and burning tires. Simultaneously, another group of WTRF members attacked the Aveyime and Mepe police stations, using firearms and other weapons to overpower the policemen.
During these attacks, they freed inmates from the cells, broke into the stations’ armories, and stole a significant amount of arms and ammunition. Additionally, they took possession of a police patrol vehicle, attacked the barracks, and looted money and personal belongings belonging to police residents and their families.
The prosecution’s case further emphasized the lawlessness exhibited by the group, including defacing the Police Service signboard and displaying flags of their self-proclaimed new country, Western Togoland.
The sentencing of these six WTRF members highlights the commitment of Ghana’s legal system to address security threats and maintain law and order. While these individuals received prison sentences, it’s important to acknowledge the need for a comprehensive approach to address the underlying issues that drive such movements.
1. What is the Western Togoland Restoration Front (WTRF)?
The WTRF is an outlawed group that seeks to secede the Volta and Oti regions from Ghana to form Western Togoland.
2. How many WTRF members have been sentenced so far?
As of now, 17 WTRF members have been sentenced, with many others still on trial.
3. Why were the six convicts not given the maximum five-year sentence?
The leniency in sentencing was due to their status as first-time offenders and their ages.
4. What actions have the WTRF taken to achieve their goals?
The WTRF has engaged in protests, civil disobedience, and violent actions, including attacks on police stations and theft of arms and ammunition.
5. What is the significance of Western Togoland?
Western Togoland refers to the secessionist aspiration of certain groups to create an independent nation encompassing parts of Ghana.
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