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General News
Bawku MP Jailed Over British Nationality 7/29/2012

An Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday sentenced Adamu Daramani Sakande, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, to six years’ imprisonment for holding dual citizenship and lying about it to get elected into public office.
The court, presided over by Justice Charles Quist, ruled that the MP did not properly renounce his British citizenship prior to contesting the Bawku parliamentary seat.
Justice Quist, in a judgment which lasted over five hours, found the accused person guilty of perjury, false declaration of office for voting and deceiving a public officer.
He was jailed two years for each offence but all sentences are to run concurrently.
The MP was on July 31, 2009, arraigned and charged with nine counts relating to his nationality, perjury, forgery of passport, election fraud and deceiving public officers to be elected as an MP.
He was, however, exonerated on six of those charges on July 8, 2010. He later filed for a defence of no case when he was asked to open his defence but was overturned.
Giving reasons for his decision, Justice Quist noted that the accused person was a Burkinabe citizen because he was issued with a travel document from the neighbouring country which stated that he was born in Ouagadougou.
The judge said even though the accused person said he was a Ghanaian born and raised in Bawku, he did not call any of his relatives to testify on his behalf and added that his own evidence that his sister was always in court with him was not enough.
Furthermore, Justice Quist said although the travel document was not a passport, it was a document which explicitly said he was born in Burkina Faso so it raised questions about his real nationality.
Justice Quist said the accused person should have at least tendered a birth certificate or baptismal card to show that he was indeed Ghanaian but failed to do so throughout the trial which has lasted about three years.
According to him, even though the MP said he was fleeing political persecution and had to run away to Burkina Faso to acquire a travel visa to the United Kingdom (UK), he had no reason to state that he was a Burkinabe but should have rather stated he was Ghanaian seeking refugee status in the UK.
The judge noted that by declaring his birth place as both in Ghana and Burkina, Daramani Sakande had not led enough evidence to show he was indeed Ghanaian even though he said his grandfather was a prominent chief in Bawku.
He noted that the defence witnesses did not help the accused person when they said they knew he was a Ghanaian because he was said to have come from Bawku.
The judge said he found that the renunciation certificate did not look genuine and was not coming from proper custody because it looked different when he compared it with another document from the British Home Office.
Mr Quist said the MP swore that he did not owe allegiance to any country apart from Ghana when he knew that his British citizenship would expire in 2014, after which he would no longer be said to be a British.
Even though counsel for the accused person said the letter from the British High Commission on the accused person did not state whether or not the MP had renounced his British nationality, an opportunity he later gave the prosecution was likely to settle the issue if counsel for the MP did not object.
He said the defence counsel had appealed against his decision to allow the state to recall witnesses, yet he turned around to question the statement from the officer at the British High Commission, Jane Tay, that it did not state whether or not the accused person had renounced.
According to the judge, the renunciation document by the MP was not authenticated by the Ghana High Commission in Britain and described the document as “fictitious.”
The trial judge stated that during the trial, Nolasco Nhyiedu, an immigration officer, who tendered documents of the MP’s travel history, showed that after acquiring his Ghanaian passport, the MP used his British passport to travel to Ghana.
Justice Quist was of the opinion that he used his British citizenship “ to show that he was a foreigner who sought to enter Ghana”, adding that after he was issued with the United Nations refugee status in UK, he abused the document because he still travelled to Ghana.
Ghana’s Dual Citizenship
Explaining further, he stated that the constitution recognised dual citizenship but said it was against the law for the MP to stand for political office when he knew that he had dual citizenship.
The judge stated that he falsely declared that he was Ghanaian when he knew he was a British national and had not renounced his citizenship.
The trial judge had unkind words for the MP’s UK lawyer, Stanley Opoku of Stanley, Adam & Co in London who prepared the documents for the MP and described him “as unworthy of credit” and “the one who prepared fictitious documents for the MP.”
He said Stanley posed as a lawyer and when asked whether or not he had been called to the bar in England, he stated that he was not a practising lawyer but an immigration lawyer who had practised his trade for 16 years in the UK.
Justice Quist recommended that the immigration lawyer be charged with abetment of crime, to wit forgery.
He afterwards said he found the accused person guilty of the said three charges and asked if counsel for the MP had anything to say.
Yoni Kulendi, counsel for the MP, said when people went to see lawyers for their services, they did not usually ask for their licence before doing business with them.
He said assuming without admitting that it was the lawyer who gave the MP fictitious renunciation papers to the MP and believing that they were genuine, and the client used them to fill out his nomination forms, then it was not the MP’s fault.
According to him, if the judge thought the defence team did not help the accused person by bringing his mother and sister to testify on his birthplace, it would not be fair for the accused person “to be sacrificed on the alter of justice” for that and prayed the court to temper justice with mercy based on the reasons he stated.
Mr. Kulendi said he had visited the said lawyer of the MP in London and knew that he had licence to practise and had an office there where he practised his trade but said he was in no position to challenge the judgment.
Counsel for the MP stated that if the accused person in his evidence said his elder sister was always in court with him, then he could surely not be lying to the court but had thought that by saying so and even mentioning the name of his grandfather who was a chief in Bawku, that assertion was easily verifiable.
He prayed for mitigation of sentence for the accused person who he said had a cardiac problem and was at the Cardiothoracic Centre in Korle-Bu a few days ago.
Rexford Wiredu, on his part, said the MP as a lawmaker, should be dealt with to deter people from flouting the law.
The prosecution, during the trial, called an immigration officer, Nolasco Nhyiedu, the municipal electoral officer of Bawku, John Bosco Anyigire, who said it was the New Patriotic Party members of Bawku who nominated the MP and said they had known the MP as a son of Bawku and a party member for many years.
Sumaila Bielbiel, who said the MP had British nationality, also testified but admitted that he never saw his British or Burkinabe passport.
The MP brought Marlon Praises Anipa, the friend who accompanied him to the lawyer to renounce his British citizenship and Stanley Opoku of Stanley Adam & Co Chambers in the United Kingdom (UK), an immigration and asylum consultant, who prepared his renunciation.
By Fidelia Achama




 
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