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My Take On The “Soda-Cocaine” Saga

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 Source: Coffie, Emmanuel Dela

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 expreesed

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

Emmanuel Dela Coffie

www.delacoffie.wordpress.com

Columnist: Coffie, Emmanuel Dela