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Court adjourns Volta secessionist case to May 12

There was heavy police presence at the court and its premises together with a larger crowd of supporters on Tuesday unlike in previous sittings of the court. The criminal case of the three accused persons of the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), which is demanding the secession of the Volta Region and parts of the Northern and Upper East Regions from Ghana, to become the Western Togoland state as soon as possible has been adjourned to May 12, 2017.

 
The three persons are standing trial at the Ho High Court on charges of conspiracy to commit treason and treason felony.
 
The court opted for the one month adjournment to allow the prosecution to investigate the case further.
 
The demand of the group to separate from Ghana runs contrary to the prevailing international order of globalisation, which rather facilitates the integration of states and nations into political and economic blocs.
 
The group claims that, residents of the Western Togoland voted to become a union with the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1956, but the union had not been established up till now.
 
Ghana rather opted to be a unitary state under the plebiscite in 1956 [referendum] instead of a union with a common constitution with the Western Togoland.
 
As a result they argue that, once there has not been any unionized constitution up to date, and the fact that the Western Togoland was not incorporated in the act establishing the Gold Coast by Queen Elisabeth of the United Kingdom, they ought to be allowed to secede from Ghana and form the Western Togoland.
 
Read also: We are breaking away from Ghana – Volta region group
 
Tuesday's court proceedings
 
At the Ho High Court on Tuesday, the court initially fixed Tuesday, May 9 for hearing, but quickly rescinded the decision on the grounds that it may create an opportunity for the accused persons and their supporters to congregate on that day which they have proposed to declare independence for the Western Togoland state.
 
Related: Group to declare 'Volta region' independence on May 9, 2017
 
The first accused person, Mr Kormi Kudzordzi was not in court on Tuesday with the excuse that he was sick and was on admission at the Royal Hospital in Ho. 
 
The second and third accused persons, Martin Asiana Agbenu and Divine Odonkor were however in court. 
 
They have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit treason and treason felony.
 
The others, Messrs Henry Adjato, Tordey Amaglo, Besah Akorli and Yao Agrah were still at large.
 
There was heavy police presence at the court and its premises together with a larger crowd of supporters unlike in previous sittings of the court.
 
Submission for adjournment
 
Making a submission for adjournment, the state attorney for the Volta region, Mr Simon Adatsi said the docket on the case had been forwarded to the national headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Accra and that the Attorney General had written a letter to the Director of CID wanting to know the state of investigations on the case to enable her office to advice on the matter.
 
Counsel
 
However, counsel for the accused persons, Mr Eric Atsu Agbakpey initially objected to the submission saying that the request for extension of time was a vindication of their position that the prosecution had no direction in the case adding that, their arrest was an intimidation and abuse of human rights and high handedness that should not be tolerated in democratic culture that the nation was enjoying.
 
He said the high court was mandated to protect human rights and so left it to the discretion of the court.
 
Ruling by judge
 
In his ruling, the supervising high court judge for the Volta region, His Lordship, Mr Justice Charles Nicholas Agbevor justified the adjournment and the request for extension of time based on some technical challenges experienced in some previous cases.
 
He advised counsel to keep tempers down because one month was not enough to complete investigations adding that delays in trials does not necessarily connote punishment for the accused persons.
 
Mr Agbevor also told the prosecution to put pressure on the authorities for speedy investigations.
 
Background
 
The accused persons were arrested on March 6 this year after their declaration at a press conference that they will hold a forum on May 9, 2017 to declare the independence of Western Togoland which covered the Volta region and portions of the Northern and Upper East regions.
 
They were arrested whilst distributing T-shirts with inscriptions ‘May 9th 2017 is our day” and “State of Western Togoland” in preparation for the independence day and charged with conspiracy to commit treason and treason felony.
 
Below is a may of Ghana showing the Volta region where the group is demanding that it should be separated from Ghana