Court remands EC official into prison custody

Daily Graphic

The Goaso Circuit Court  has for the second time remanded in prison custody the presiding officer (PO) of the Bediako CMB Shed polling station, near Mim for allegedly stealing a Biometric Verification Device used for the December 7, 2012 general election.
The accused person, Samuel Owusu Sarpong, 56 and headteacher of the Pentecostal Basic School also at Bediako in the Asunafo North Municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region, was first arraigned before the court on December 17, last year.
He re-appeared before the court on December 31, 2012, but was again remanded to reappear on Monday, January 7, 2013.
The court, presided over by Mr Osei Kwame Gyamfi, however, granted bail in the sum of GH¢4,000 with a surety to Esther Annor, wife of an accomplice in the case, Kofi Annor, a polling station assistant, who is on the run.
 She would also re-appear before the court on the same day together with Sarpong.
Sarpong and Esther were arrested when they went to the Goaso Police station to hand over the electoral materials in the custody of her husband to the police on December 16, 2012.
Sarpong has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit crime, stealing and abetment of crime while Esther pleaded guilty to the charge of aiding and abetment.
When the case was called for hearing, the prosecutor, Detective Chief Inspector Francis Azambeo pleaded with the court to remand Sarpong again to enable the police continue with their investigations into the matter.
The facts of the case were that on December 7, 2012, the complainant in the case distributed electoral materials to various polling stations in the Asunafo North municipality for the presidential and parliamentary polls, in which Sarpong was the presiding officer at the Bediako CMB Shed polling station.
About 4.30 p.m. on December 10, 2012 while the complainant was cross-checking the biometric verification devices serially as to whether all the materials were intact, he realised that one of the devices with number 58 of 147 with serial number 4023915758 which was allocated to the CMB Shed polling station was no where to be found.
Sarpong was called to the Electoral Commission (EC) office at Goaso for questioning and he told the officers that the materials were sent to the police station and a police officer handed them over to the Returning Officer who was a witness in the case.
The complainant together with the other officials including Sarpong then went through the documents and it came to light that the particular device was not in the office.
The complainant then summoned all the crew and handed them to the police at Mim for investigations and upon interrogation it was revealed that after counting of the ballot on voting day, the accused failed to declare the results and tempers of the electorate arose.
A police vehicle was dispatched to convey the materials to the charge office and when the vehicle arrived Sarpong packed the materials into the vehicle and made series of phone calls, after which he discharged the materials from the vehicle and handed the ballot boxes to his accomplice, Kofi Annor.
After the police vehicle left, Sarpong promised to follow up to the police station but he failed to do so and he was later traced and arrested.
Upon further investigations, Sarpong denied stealing the materials and stated that he left the materials along the road and went back to the CMB shed to pick some of the materials but when he returned the bag containing the electoral materials were no where to be found.
On December 14, 2012 the accused was granted police enquiry bail to return on December 17, 2012, but on December 16, 2012  Esther Annor, the wife of Kofi Annor brought the electoral materials to him and both were arrested.