Last week, Ghanaians woke up to the shocking news that a substance alleged to be cocaine which was seized from an accused person, and tendered in court as evidence, has changed into washing soda.
The substance confirmed by the police to be cocaine after testing and weighing 1,020 grammes, later turned out to be sodium carbonate (commonly known as washing soda) after the court had ordered another test to be conducted by the Ghana Standards Board (GSB).
Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor whose court took custody of the banned substance, has expressed surprise at the turn of event, and indicated that as far as he was aware, the cabinet in his chambers where exhibits are kept, was neither broken into nor tampered with.
He further indicated that he had no direct dealing with exhibits, and that the only time he dealt with them, especially those relating to documents, was when he needed to rely on them for his rulings.
The police on the other hand, have also said that they have no hand in the transformation of the substance, since the court received the cocaine in its original state after the Food and Drugs Board tested it. The Ghana Police Service has said that it cannot fathom why more than thousand grammes of cocaine presented to the court as evidence against a woman being tried for alleged drug peddling, turned into baking soda.
The Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board,Mr. Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong, has asked very pertinent questions regarding the matter, and I think that they are worth pondering over if we really want to get to the bottom of the issue.
“Where is the rest of that cocaine, or where is the rest of the baking powder? This question is pertinent because it is not the court that destroys exhibits. Infact, when we are destroying, we invite them. We want to know where the rest of that substance is. Has it been resealed? Why is it that the court used a certain measure to judge? They are supposed to be repositories of justice and yet they could not follow the correct procedure,” Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong said.
The critical questions we need answers to are embedded in Akrasi-Sarpong’s argument, and the BNI must pose these serious questions to those who matter in this saga.
The other angle we must look at critically is, what the law says regarding destruction of such substances after they have been tendered as evidence.
Act 30, section 9A on the destruction of narcotic drug before a court in a trial states:”Where the offence involves a narcotic drug the court shall,
(a) on an application by or on behalf of the Attorney-General, order the destruction of quantity, leaving a reasonable quantity of the seized narcotic drug which is the subject matter of the offence; and(b) make an order that the remaining quantity be taken as conclusive evidence of the seized narcotic drug for the purposes of the trial of the offence and any appeal after conviction.
The question is, why should the evidence be destroyed when the case has not been concluded?
I shall be back
By: Dela Coffie
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