Five businessmen who were arrested at the Kotoka International Airport in 2019 over the importation of 2,200 grams of cocaine have been convicted and sentenced to a combined 60 years imprisonment.
The convicts are – Frank Asante (First Accused), Kweku Antwi, (2nd Accused who has since jumped bail) Alhassan Iddrisu, (3nd Accused), Clifford Boakye (4th Accused) and Isaac Kwakye (5th Accused).
This was after they were found guilty on three counts of Conspiracy to commit a crime namely possession of a Narcotic, importation of Narcotic drugs and possession of Narcotic drug by the High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Lydia Osei Marfo after full trial.
Justice Osei Marfo, subsequently, imposed the minimum punishment of 10 years each on all the convict under the old Narcotics Control Law PNDC law 236 which has since been amended by Act 1019.
“I have listened to Counsel on both sides and I have looked at the old (PNDC Law 236) and the new law Act 1019). And I am satisfied that, (under) the old law the punishment of the offenses for which they have been charged is lesser in severity than the new law in the same offense,” Justice Marfo said.
She explained that, “anybody that is convicted for the offenses of possession and importation of Narcotics drug is sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison.”
While, “the new law, however, in respect of the same offense comes with same minimum of 10 years (jail term) and some heavy fines and the two go together.”
Justice Marfo also said, the Court is minded about the constitutional provisions under Article 19(6) of the Constitution and “I cannot impose punishment stipulated under the new law.”
The Court prior to sentencing also took into consideration the mitigation factors from defense lawyers and the conduct of the convicts.
“I have considered the conducts of the accused persons except (A2) during their bail and attendance in court during the trial although some were coming from Kumasi, always were present and where they could genuinely not be present in Court, they asked permission from the court,” the Court said.
In view of the above, the Court sentenced all five into 10 years (minimum) each in prison on the charges of Conspiracy to commit a crime namely possession of a narcotic and possession of narcotic.
While – Asante (First Accused) and Kweku Antwi, (2nd Accused who has since jumped bail) were separately jailed 10 years for importation of Narcotic drugs.
However, the Court said, while the four who were present in Court – Frank Asante (First Accused), Alhassan Iddrisu, (3nd Accused), Clifford Boakye (4th Accused) and Isaac Kwakye (5th Accused) are to serve the sentence concurrently, Kweku Antwi, (2nd Accused) who jumped bail is to serve his punishment consecutively upon arrest.
According EIB Network Legal Affairs Correspondent, Murtala Inusah, while the four will serve only 10 years each, Antwi will serve 20 years for jumping bail.