The alleged leader of the gang that kidnapped two Canadian women in Kumasi on June 4, 2019, has confessed to the Accra High Court.
Sampson Aghalor, aka Romeo, admitted to playing a role in the kidnapping of the two women but pleaded for forgiveness from the family of the women, Ghana and his country of origin, Nigeria.
“I want to express my sincere apology to the girls, their families, the Republic of Ghana, as well as the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he told the court yesterday.
“Release me from BNI custody”
Aghalor further appealed to the court to order his release from the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to a normal prison.
He alleged that he had been subjected to torture at the BNI and was put in solitary confinement.
“I pray the court to put me in a prison where my family members can visit me and I can get people to talk to,” he said.
In response, the prosecutor, Ms Hilda Craig, a Senior State Attorney, refuted Aghalor’s allegations against the BNI.
She said the allegations were afterthoughts and cooked up stories meant to tarnish the reputation of the BNI and also court sympathy.
She also submitted that changing the place of custody of the accused persons from the BNI to a prison would negatively affect investigations into the case.
She pleaded with the court to remand the eight accused persons in BNI custody to enable them to assist the police with investigations.
“Investigations have not concluded and we will need more time and the assistance of the accused persons to finish with investigations,” Ms Craig said.
The court, presided over by Justice George Buadi, granted the request
of the prosecution and remanded the accused persons in BNI custody.
Hearing continues on July 15, 2019.
Lawyers for the accused persons are expected to move an application for bail for their clients on that day.
In a related development, the court has granted the prosecution permission to publish the names and pictures of two other suspects who go by the names Mohammed and Dery in the newspapers.
That followed an oral application by Ms Craig, who said the suspects were on the run.
In all, eight people are standing trial for the kidnapping of the two Canadian ladies.
The other accused persons include Elvis Ojiyorwe and Jeff Omarsar, both Nigerians.
The rest are Yusif Yakubu, Abdul Nasir and Seidu Abubakari, aka Mba, Safianu Abubakar and Abdul Rahman Suleman, all Ghanaians.
They have been accused of playing various roles in the kidnapping of Ms Lauren Patricia Catherine Tiley and Ms Bailey Jordan Chilly who were in Kumasi to participate in a youth programme.
All the accused persons have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, while Aghalor, Ojiyorwe, Omarsar and Yakubu have been charged separately with two counts of kidnapping.
The facts of the case, as presented by Ms Craig, were that Aghalor, who had been in Ghana for some time, became Yakubu’s friend in March 2019.
In the course of their friendship, Aghalor brought up the idea of kidnapping as a lucrative venture, an idea that was accepted by Yakubu.
Yakubu agreed to assist Aghalor in the kidnapping activity and even helped him to procure a pistol.
To bring their idea into fruition, the prosecutor said, Aghalor went to Nigeria in May 2019 and recruited Ojiyorwe and Omarsar to be part of the gang.
According to her, the three Nigerians, on their arrival in Ghana, resided at Ashaiman for some time before they went to Kumasi to meet up with Yakubu.
When they got to Kumasi, Aghalor, the leader of the gang, gave some money to Yakubu to hire a car and an apartment and also buy pistols and other items to enable them to carry out their kidnapping activities.
Kidnapping of Canadians
Ms Craig said on June 4, 2019, the gang, in a car, accosted the two Canadian ladies who had boarded an Uber taxi at their hostel at Nhyiaeso, a suburb of Kumasi.
“They were accosted by the gang when they arrived at their destination and alighted from the Uber taxi. Aghalor, Ojiyorwe, Omarsar and Yakubu assaulted the victims and forced them into their vehicle, amid shooting.
“They then sped off with their victims to their hideout, which was an uncompleted building at Kenyasi Krobo, another suburb of Kumasi,” the prosecutor added.
Aghalor later contacted the families of the two women and demanded a ransom of $800,000.
Ms Craig told the court that on June 11, 2019, a National Security team, led by Colonel Michael Opoku, acting on intelligence, arrested Yakubu.
Afterwards, the team proceeded to arrest Aghalor, Ojiyorwe and Omarsar at their hideout at Kenyasi Krobo and rescued the two women.
“During the rescue mission, Ojiyorwe and Omarsar threatened to kill the victims if the security agents dared them. They exchanged fire with the security agents until they were overpowered and arrested,” she said.
The prosecutor added that Aghalor, Ojiyorwe, Omarsar and Yakubu mentioned Nasir and Abubakari as members of the gang and the two were subsequently arrested.
Suleman was also picked up because he was the owner of the car that was used for the kidnapping, while Abubakar was also arrested following his close association with Yakubu and what the police described as in-depth knowledge of the kidnapping.