The Ghana Police Service has admitted planting a “stranger” in the cells of #Fixthecountry Convenor, Oliver Barker-Vormawor, when he was arrested and detained in the Ashaiman police cells.
The Police said this formed part of its standard protocol for extracting information from cell inmates, according to court documents available to The Fourth Estate.
“To gather information on cell remands, informants are sometimes planted in the cells. The informant was not placed in the cells to harm the applicant,” the police said.
The police’s admission was contained in a response to a lawsuit filed by Barker-Vormawor, alleging torture and abuse of his rights during his arrest and detention early this year.
In the lawsuit filed on June 30, 2022, Barker-Vormawor alleged that shortly after his arrest at the Kotoka International Airport, he was whisked away from the public’s view to a private office where three armed-men asked him whether he was the one calling himself Osagyefo and then, “proceeded to administer some slaps to my cheeks, punches to my stomach, and pushed me to the ground, stepped on me with their boots and spat on me.”
Barker-Vormawor also alleged in the suit that when he attempted to use his phone while in detention at the said private office at the KIA, the “three armed-men wrestled my phone out of my hands and continued to kick me even more; the kicks got even severe I suddenly dropped from my chair and assumed a foetal position in an attempt to block further oncoming kicks and hits”.
The lawsuit, which named the Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney- General as defendants, further alleged that the unidentified officers who arrested Mr Barker-Vormawor used provocative invectives, including ethnic epithets, and threatened to assault him without leaving traces of bruise.
“Because I continued to refuse to unlock my device, the gunmen continued to punch me in the stomach, while telling me that they know [sic] how to hit me without leaving bruises, spit on me and threatened to make me drink their urine just so I can see that I am nobody and nothing,” he alleged in his statement of claim.
Planted cell mate
Barker-Vormawor claimed in the lawsuit that a muscular and heavily-built man was brought into the cells he was being kept on Sunday, February 13, 2022, and when the cell’s leaders asked what he was being detained for, he said he was an importer who had been arrested for issuing a dud cheque.
Not long after, he said, the commander of the Ashaiman Police Station brought the said inmate an “exceptionally heavy” loaf of bread which contained a “penknife and a mobile phone”.
The police admitted that a cell phone was found after Mr Barker-Vormawor instigated the cell inmates to break the bread but denied that it contained a pen-knife.
“It is untrue that there was a hidden pen-knife in the loaf of bread given to the informant,” the police’s affidavit in opposition said.
While Barker-Vormawor alleged that the planted cellmate was on a mission to harm him, the police said that was untrue.
The police also denied the claims by Barker-Vormawor that he was tortured.
“The respondents[Ghana Police Service] state that while the applicant was at the VVIP lounge, he was handled in a professional manner until he was handed over to the police.”
Mr Vormawor, spent 34 days in detention, despite a legal action against his “unlawful detention.” He wants the court to declare that “by bringing me to the Ashaiman District Magistrate Court when they knew that a District Magistrate Court does not have the jurisdiction to consider the question of my personal liberty, the Respondents, their agents, officials or assigns or work men have violated my right to administrative justice and to personal liberty.”
He also said the decision of the said court to commit him to remand and police custody while declining jurisdiction of the case violated his “rights to legal protection”.
He also wants the court to declare as violations of his rights and personal liberty, the assault, violence, threats of harm, threats of death, harassment, and slaps administered to him by the police during his detention.
The lawsuit comes as Mr. Vormawor is facing trial for treason felony at an Accra High Court. He was charged following the arrest for which he has sued the police.
On February 10, 2022, Mr Barker-Vormawor wrote on Facebook, “If this E-Levy passes I will do the coup myself. Useless Army!”
This followed pictures which emerged on social media from the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu’s 65th birthday party, showing an ‘E-levy’ cake.
He was arrested at the Kotoka International Airport on arrival, detained and later charged with treason felony, an offence he is fighting in court. His lawyers and some Ghanaians believe his comment does not warrant the charge.
“Until this morning, it was a misdemeanor, only to appear in court and be told he is being charged with treason felony which has no factual basis,” one of his lawyers, Mr Akoto Ampaw, said on the day that charged was slapped on his client.