“Sir, sir, no, no, off! off!” the judge shook her finger at #Fixthecountry Movement convenor, Oliver Barker–Vormawor, as he tried to walk into the docket with a Ghana flag over his shoulders.
“Sir, fold it and put it down. Outside, you can put it around your neck. Here, no,” she said, setting a stern tone for the hearing.
A much bigger Ghana flag stood on the right side of the judge. That was the only flag allowed in court, it seemed.
The judge, who appeared not to allow the overwhelming work of justice to interfere with her freedom to look fashionable had a permed hair with a small parting through the right side of her head. And then, a red-painted acrylic fingernails that pushed her spectacles into place with just a slight touch.
Watched over by the coat of arms and its “Freedom and Justice”, Justice Akua Yanzu was presiding over a case to start the trial of Oliver Barker-Vormawor for treason felony.
Before the case, Oliver was seen exchanging some boisterous palm slapping with a prisons officer who had paraded some seven accused persons in handcuffs.
The officer seemed to know Oliver. And if the state has its way, it would like Oliver and the officer to know themselves a bit more closely – in the walls of the prison.
The state believes Oliver wants to overthrow the Republic. His love for words like “coup” is part of a plan to destabilise the executive, the state believes.
The judge would decide if the prosecution’s case is watertight or preposterous. But the lawyer for Oliver wants the judge to quickly decide if this whole case is even necessary.
He has filed a motion to strike out the committal proceedings of the Ashaiman District Court in August.
Justice Srem Sai, who is lawyer for the accused, faulted the Ashaiman District Court judge’s ruling, arguing that Mrs. Eleanor Kakra Barnes-Botchway should have taken down Oliver’s closing statement on the day of her judgement.
The lawyer says the judge didn’t truly record Oliver’s speech as required by law. She only made notes and that’s not good enough.
The lawyer wants that decision revisited and has therefore applied to the High Court to quash it.
The state has also filed its response in opposition to the application in the morning. The stage is set to hear Srem Sai’s application on October 21.
The judge had a few rules for her court. Things must move “fast, fast, fast.”
“If you are moving an application, go straight to the point,” a rule that would not bode well with orator Oliver.
“I will not allow you to move a motion for 30 minutes,” she appeared to have read the memo on Oliver ‘s courtroom speeches.
“I will not gag you,” she assured.
She adjourned the case and the audience drained out of the court quite fast.
The social media activist led a hashtag that took on the government for the country’s harsh economic conditions and constitutional arrangements that benefit the political class to the detriment of the ordinary Ghanaian.
However, his posts triggered the state to an action that has curtailed his freedom.
On February 10, 2022, Mr Barker-Vormawor wrote on Facebook, “If this E-Levy passes I will do the coup myself. Useless Army!”
His post followed pictures that emerged on social media from the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu’s 65th birthday party, showing an “E-levy” cake.
On his return to Ghana on February 11, 2022, he was arrested at the Kotoka International Airport, detained and later charged with treason felony, an offence he is fighting in court. His lawyers and some Ghanaians believe his comment does not warrant the charge.
But the state does not think so.
After more than a month in custody, he was released on March 17, 2022, with conditions that banned him from having his passport and travelling.
He was subsequently indicted by the Ashaiman Magistrate Court to stand trial.