“My lord, yes, I smoke, but cigarette,” was the vehement respond given by the fifth prosecution witness (PW5), Staff Sergeant Natonarah Yeankye Kofi Jonas, to a question posed to him by Victor Kojoga Adawudu, Counsel for four of 10 accused persons standing trial for treason and abetment.
This was as the Counsel had made reference to him smoking in a video that was recorded of a purported coup plot meeting on June 22, 2018.
According to Mr Adawudu, the witness was not seen in the video writing the names of persons present, but puffing smoke in grand style.
This was as the witness claimed he wrote down the names of the persons who allegedly attended the meeting, and discussions held on that fateful day.
However, PW5, without letting the counsel ask him what he was smoking, jumped to answer that it was a cigarette, which was passed to him by Sergeant Nzeigan at a beach.
Sargent Natonarrah also told the Financial Division of the Accra High Court that he had no personal knowledge of the alleged coup plot.
According to him, whatever briefing he had was information given to him by PW3, Staff Sergeant Awarf Kwadwo Sully.
Staff Sergeant Natonarah told the court during cross-examination by counsel for the accused persons that not only once had he met the then Director of Defence Intelligence, Brigadier General Nicholas Andoh, on the role that he and the other selected soldiers were going to play to undercover the coup plotters.
He told this to the court presided over by a three-panel of judges, namely, Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, Hafsata Amaliba and Stephen Oppong.
PW5 stressed he had the opportunity to speak to Brigadier Genetal Andoh on two occasions; once when Staff Sergeant Awarf called the Brigadier General on phone and he got the opportunity to speak to him, and the second was when the Brigadier General came to Nicholson Stadium for training.
He told the court, which is trying senior police and military officers on treason and abetment charges, that when he saw Brigadier General Andoh at the Nicholson Stadium, and he introduced himself to him, the Director of Defence Intelligence replied “You are the Natonarrah? Oh fine!”
The accused persons are Dr Frederick Yao Mac Palm, Chief Executive Officer of Citadel Hospital, Donyo Kafui, blacksmith, alias Ezor, Bright Alan Debrah, alias BB, Johannes Zikpi, Signaller with the Ghana Armed Forces, Corporal Seidu Abubakar (A5), Corporal Sylvester Akanpewu, Lance Airforce Corporal (LAC) Ali Solomon, Colonel Kojo Gameli, and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Benjamin Agordzo.
These are excerpts of some questions (Q) and answers (A) for Monday and yesterday:
Cross-examination by Anthony Lartey, Counsel for five of the accused persons.
Q. The Author of your Exhibit E did not sign to authenticate it; is that not so?
Q. Per your answer, did the Author of your Exhibit E sign it?
Q. The Author of your Exhibit E did not even write his or her name on the exhibit to tell the reader who authored it?
Q. Per your answer, did the Author of your Exhibit E write his/her name?
Q. Kindly show the court where the Author wrote his name on this exhibit?
Witness points out to where the Author signed.
Q. I suggest to you that there is nothing on the exhibit showing it was signed by the person whose name you have pointed out?
Q. According to you, at paragraph 16 of your witness statement, that is Exhibit 4 for A1, Sergeant Zakari couldn’t do the video recording of one of your alleged meetings at Next Door Beach Resort, because he could not operate the recording device?
Q. So, to the best of your knowledge, the recording device was functioning properly, just that Sergeant Zakari could not operate it?
A. Sergeant Awarf told me that Zakari could not operate the device.
Q. Apart from what Sergeant Awarf told you, none of the accused persons told you that they were planning a coup d’état?
A. No, but it was at the meet that I saw that everyone who was sitting there knew the reason why they were seated, and Mr BB made us to know that everyone seated there knew why each and everyone is seated.
Q. What you just told this court is not true?
A. That is the truth.
Q. Sergeant Awarf is your junior in the Ghana Armed Forces?
Q. In the Ghana Armed Forces, do you take instructions from your juniors without finding out from your supervisor whether they gave that instruction to you junior?
A. Yes. It will depend on where the institution is coming from.
Q. So, it is Sergeant Awarf Sulley who invited you to Next Door?
Q. The Director of Defence Intelligence never told you personally to attend any meeting, or to do anything with the accused persons?
A. All communications were passed through Awarf before he disseminated it to us.
Q. When the Military Police picked you up and detained you before September 2019, they suspected you of taking part in the planning of the alleged coup plot, not so?
A. The Military Police did not know whether I was part or not, but my name was published and I was apprehended and detained. So it was when I was cautioned and asked to write my statement, that was when the Military Police made me aware of what was happening.
Q. I suggest to you that you were released without a charge, because the Military Police found out that you have done nothing wrong, though you claimed that you have attended meeting with the accused persons?
A. I was not released by the Military Police. It was by the BNI, after I gave my statement.
Q. Were you working for Sergeant Awarf, Director of Defence Intelligence, or the accused persons when you allegedly attended the meetings?
A. I was working on the directives given to Awarf by our supervisor?
Q. Who were you working for?
Court: He has answered.
Q. Apart from the meetings, is it your claim that you have no personal knowledge of any attempted coup plot?
A. No, because we were briefed; and we were also advised before we went to meet together for the first meeting.
Q. I suggest to you that what you just told this court is not true?
A. It is true.
Q. I suggest to you that you would have been one of the accused persons in this trial, if you had attended the meetings as you have claimed?
Q. You are not a reliable witness?
A. I’m a reliable witness.
Counsel: My lords, that will be all for the witness.
Lamtiig Apanga, Counsel for A6, takes his turn.
Q: Staff Sergeant Natonarrah, you claimed that this meeting you attended took place on 22nd June, 2018, is that so?
Q. According to you, the said meeting was recorded; is that so?
Q. And you have had the benefit of listening to the recordings?
Counsel: With the permission of the court if the audio of 22nd June can be played?
Q. Were you at the meeting from the beginning?
A. The meeting started before I got there.
Q. Were there some discussions before you got there?
Q. Did you seek from your colleagues what was discussed before you go there?
A. They were already seated, and I knew why they were there.
Q. So, when the meeting ended, did you find out from your colleagues what was discussed when you got there?
Q. What were you told?
A. My lord, I was Awarf, who I asked, and he told me that they had done the introductions before the meeting started, and that BB made them to know that everybody knows the reason for coming there.
Q. Is that all you were told?
Q. What you claimed that Sergeant Awarf told you, in respect of discussions that took place, was a conversation between you and Awarf?
A. That was when we left the meeting.
Q. Where were you told?
A. On our way to the house.
Q. On that day of the meeting, you drove to the meeting?
Q. Sergeant Awarf also drove to the meeting?
Audio has started playing.
Q. How many meetings were held on June 22?
A. Only one. My lord, I now say that I attended the meetings twice.
Q. Now, you heard about 5 minute of the audio on the purported meeting; is that the meeting you attended?
Q. And 5 minutes into the audio of the purported meeting, were you present?
Q. There’s no video of this meeting?
A. I don’t know whether the meeting was captured, but I was told that whatever we did there had been recorded.
Q. In your evidence before this court, you attended the meeting as an undercover security personnel?
Q. Who assigned you?
A. The Director of Defence Intelligence asked Sergeant Awarf to organise … soldiers who can be trusted…?
Q. As a … soldier to undertake such an important duty, you turn up late?
A. I was late because of my duty schedule.
Q. You never received an instruction from the Director of Defence Intelligence?
A. Everything was through Awarf to the rest of us.
Q. Now, I’m putting it you that throughout the conversation, as contained in the audio of June 22nd, as transcribed, no one mentioned or discussed a coup d’état?
A. No, because everyone was briefed before we got to the meeting.
Q. Did you meet everyone who attended the meeting before the meeting?
Q. Did you meet everyone who attended the meeting after the meeting?
Q. You don’t have any confirmation from… before attending the meeting?
A. We were taking our instructions from Staff Sergeant Awarf, and apart from him we were not communicating with anyone we saw at the meeting.
Q. So you received your briefings from Sulley Awarf and no one else in respect of your claim so far?
Q. You told the court that when you got to the meeting some names had been written, and you added your name?
Q. Were the names numbered?
A. On the sheet I wrote my name the names were numbered.
Q. What was your number?
A. My name was the second to last on the sheet or last but one. Because when I got to the meeting some names were written already, and I was asked to add mine. So after that I re-copied the names in the book I took from Sergeant Awarf. After that I handed over the sheet of paper to Mr Bright. And after the suggestion, questions, and answers, I tore that paper from the book. And after the meeting, I handed it over to Sergeant Awarf to be given to our superior.
Q. Which one did you write first, the suggestions or the names?
A. I wrote the names before the suggestions.
Q. Did you copy the names exactly in the same order as the one you wrote on?
Q. How many people attended the meeting?
A. Unless I recap the names and counts the number.
Q. Are you telling the court you have forgotten about of the number of the people who attended the meeting?
Q. Throughout the audio of June 22nd, Esther Saan (A6) was not heard?
A. She was at the meeting, but I didn’t hear her voice in the audio.
Q. Did you take a picture of the list you claim you gave to BB?
Q. Did A6 sign any attendance to confirm that she was at the meeting?
Q. Is that attendance part of your exhibit?
Q. Now, take a look at Exhibit E and point to this court A6’s signature on the exhibit?
Court: Let the record show that the witness has identify the signature on the exhibit.
Q. Sir, you wrote A6’s name as appeared on Exhibit E?
Q. What you have marked is not A6’s signature?
A. It’s because I copied the list. So, when I was re-copying it into the book, I did the arrangement myself.
Q. You were the last to appear at the said meeting?
Q. Who appeared after you?
A. I went to the meeting with Sergeant Nazieng, and I wrote my name before he added his.
Q. You told this court that you copied the list of names before you wrote the alleged suggestions that were exchanged, is that so?
Q. Take a look at Exhibit E. You claimed the exhibit is a page from Sergeant Awarf’s exercise book?
Q. I’m putting it to you that the alleged suggestions appeared first before the alleged names appeared behind it?
A. No, when I opened the book, because I needed a sheet of paper, I wrote it at the back of it. I wrote the names first, and when the questions and suggestions came, I wrote it on the back.
Q. Did you write down the names and suggestions before you tore it from Awarf’s book?
A. It was the questions and suggestions I wrote last.
Q. I’m putting it to you that the page in which you claimed you wrote the suggestions appeared first?
A. It is not true. It is because of how I copied the names in the book. I could not move to the next page, that was why I wrote the suggestions at the back of it.
Q. You will appreciate that the book in which you claimed you wrote the names on is a journal to do lists and appointments?
A. Yes. It is like a diary.
Q. Your answer to this court – that you begun to write the names from the back as your first item and suggestions – is false?
A. That is how I copied it.
Q. There is no indication of time on the Exhibit E whatsoever?
Q. There is no indication of date?
Q. Exhibit E is entirely your own creation, brought to this court to mislead the court?
Q. Anyone else can put down the names in Exhibit E?
A. No, because it is my own handwriting.
Q. I’m putting it to you that A6 did not attend any meeting with you on June 22, 2018?
A. That is not true.
Q. You have always known A6; you have eaten from her house before?
Q. A6 is a Dagati woman?
Q. You have had associations with A6, largely because you are a Northerner too?
A. My lord, I have known her to be a Northerner and a sister too. But I have never approached her until we meet at the first meeting and we spoke together, and while we were speaking that was when BB also introduced himself as a Dagati too.
Q. What you just told the court; did it take place on the meeting of 22nd June?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. You were seated throughout the meeting, not so?
Q. A3 (BB) did not sit beside you?
A. He was just close to me.
Q. Sergeant Awarf sat closed to you?
Q. Sergeant Awarf allegedly recorded the audio of the meeting of the June 22nd?
A. He informed me after we had closed from the meeting.
Q. I’m putting it to you that, per your own testimony of how you sat close to Awarf, everything you said while the audio was recording ought to have been recorded and heard?
A. I don’t know whether my voice was captured or not. Because we were all making contributions while the meeting was going on, and when you listening to the audio right now, you realise that when you talk and your voice is not in the high pitch, you cannot be heard.
Q. I’m putting it to you that A6 was not at the meeting and did not have any discussions with you?
A. That is not true.
Q. A6 has never had any meetings with you on any alleged coup plot?
A. Yes, unless the day we met at the meeting.
Q. Are you saying you never had any meetings with A6 in respect of the alleged coup plot?
Q. You have never had any telephone conversation with A6 on the alleged coup plot?
Q. A6 is not captured in Exhibit E of having made any suggestion?
Q. I’m finally putting it to you that what you have told this court, in respect of the alleged evidence, are facts manufactured by you to mislead the court?
Crossexamination by Mr Adawudu
Q. Staff Sargent Natonarrah, can you tell this court the first time you attended the purported meeting with some of the accused persons?
A. It was 22nd June, 2018.
Q. Can you tell the court the duration of the meeting?
A. As for the duration, I can’t remember.
Q. In you estimation, how many minutes did you spend there?
A. It’s been a long time since I attended the meeting, so I can’t remember.
Q. Can you tell the court the date of the 2nd meeting?
A. In my evidence, I started that it took some time before we met, so I don’t actually remember the time?
Q. See, before 22 June, 2018, had you ever had any encounter with A9?
Q. How about A8?
Q. What about A7, Abubaka?
Q. The first time you met A8 was at the purported meeting on 22nd June, 2018?
Q. You attended the meeting on the instructions of Staff Sergeant Awarf?
A. Yes, because it was on instructions given me.
Q. Did you verify the purported instructions from the Director of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces?
Q. When you checked, what was the answer?
A. It was Sergeant Awarf who called, and I spoke to the Director Director of Intelligence.
Q. What is the name of the purported person you spoke to?
A. He is now Brigadier General Andoh.
Q. It is your case that you never met Brigadier General Andoh to confirm his instructions to you?
A. It was because all instructions were given to Staff Sergeant Awarf before it gets to us.
Q. Was this instruction in a written form or verbal?
Q. So you went for the purported meeting with the mindset that you were going to discuss issues relating to the overthrown of the government?
A. We were being informed and briefed before we went for the first meeting.
Q. Who informed and briefed you?
A. It was Staff Sergeant Awarf, after talking to the Director of Defence Intelligence an instruction was given to him for us to make time for the first meeting.
Q. Based on the knowledge that you have, that was why you attended that meeting?
A. Yes, because before Awarf could report to the Director of Defence Intelligence, he made him aware of why they wanted us to meet them. So we knew the meeting we were going for.
Q. If you say they wanted us to meet the people, who are you referring to?
A. Staff Sergeant Awarf …
Q. Were you present when Staff Sergeant Awarf went to the meet with this people?
Q. So you are just narrating what you have heard from Awarf?
Q. Staff Sergeant Natonarrah, do you smoke?
A. Yes, I smoke cigarette.
Q. Now, you told this court that you were late in attending the said meeting on 22 June, 2018?
Q. And when you got there, you were given a sheet of paper to write your name?
Q. And, indeed, you wrote your name on the said sheet of paper?
Q. So, while you added your name to the list, you saw the people who were seated and already written their names?
Q. Was there a signature on that sheet of paper?
Q. Was there a date?
Q. And you told this court that you re-copied the names on the sheet, is that not so?
A. Yes, with my own arrangement.
Q. You also told the court that you were briefed by PW3 (Awarf) of what was discussed earlier before you arrived?
Q. What did he say were the discussions before you arrived?
A. He told me that they discussed how we were going to operate to overthrow the government, and also they did introductions before I got there. That is when Sergeant Awarf made me to know that the people sitting there, most of them were soldiers.
Q. Did he also tell you that the discussion they had they did questions and answers?
A. The questions and answers came when I was present.
Q. Staff Sargent Natonarrah, I’m suggesting to you that there was never a sheet that you claim the accused persons wrote their names?
A. There was a sheet of paper when I got there.
Q. Staff Sergeant Natonarrah, I’m putting it to you that there was no sheet of paper that you claimed you re-copied the names at the meeting on 22 June, 2018?
A. It is not true, because I did it myself. I wrote the names first, and the questions and suggestions came late.
Counsel: Please with the permission of the court play the video of the initial meeting of 22 June, 2018?
Q. At this purported meeting, A3 told the people there that you all know why we are all here?
Q. You see the reason why A3 was there was in relation of form TAG soldiers?
A. My lord, I don’t know anything concerning TAG soldiers.
Q. A3 never said that “we are here to plan the overthrow of the government?”
A. Because of the briefing we had from Staff Sergeant Awarf, all of us at the meeting knew the reason why we were there.
Q. You see, you also told the court that you went there with Zakari Wahim, Nzeigan and Awarf. These were the people you knew?
A. No. There were others who were also added to us. So on the first meeting Awarf and Wahim took the lead before the rest. I and Nziegn went there.
Q. The others who were there, do you know their names?
A. Apart from the soldiers there, Staff Sergeant Awarf submitted their names to the Director of Director of Intelligence, but the rest I didn’t know them.
Q. If you don’t know some people, and you meet them at a place, you can’t tell the reason for their presence at the meeting?
A. Each and everybody knew the reason why they were at the meeting. When I got there, the meeting was in progress. It was after the meeting that Staff Sergeant Awarf told me some of them were soldiers.
Q. Can you mention their names?
A. Awarf, Zakari Wahim, Nzeigan Victor, Dasmami Faisel, Tekyi Joel, Ofosu Addo, Mensah Andrews, Attah Yeboah, Addai Sylvester, which later I got to know he is …, Nii Ankorah, Ibrahim, Ali Solomon, Abubakari Seidu, Madam Esther Saan, myself, and Mr Bright.
Q. Were these names on the sheet of paper you claimed you have copied?
A. Yes. I wrote the names that I knew and added the rest.
Q. I’m putting it to you that you were operating on the information and briefing that were given to you by Staff Sergeant Awarf at the meeting?
A. Yes, that was the instructions given to us.
Q. That was why you came to a conclusion that you were having a meeting relating to the overthrown of the government?
Q. That is why you assumed that everybody there was at to discuss the alleged overthrow of the government or coup d’état?
Court: PICT0007, 22 June, 2019. I want you to take a critical look at the pictures there, can you see the picture?
Q. Do you recognise the gentleman there?
A. That is myself.
Q. There’s a book on the table, can you see that?
Q. You see, Staff Sergeant Natonarrah, where in this video are you seen recopying the name?
A. At this time the names had already been copied.
Q. During this period, there was nowhere you were seen writing on a paper?
A. When I was recopying the name, I didn’t know whether it was being recorded or not.
Q. A3 was sitting beside you, and the book was in front of A3?
A. It was in front of me and PW3, and it got to a time Sylvester wanted to take the book from me, and I didn’t allow. I told him to exercise patience.
Q. At the 14th minute, what were you holding in your hands?
A. It was cigarette. I took it from Nzeigan. We were at the beach.
Q. Go to the 14th minutes and play from there. You see, A3 was sitting beside you and he stood up?
Q. It was after A3 left before you tore the paper?
Q. Is it the same paper as Exhibit E?
Q. This paper you are holding, is it not what you have tendered as Exhibit E?
A. At the back of this paper we are seeing that there is nothing written there.
Q. Exhibit E has writing at the back?
A. It is the same paper.
Q. I’m suggesting to you that this document was a list your superior or PW3 brought to you people to use to incriminate the accused persons?
Q. Take a look at Exhibit E. Are they the names on the Exhibit E?
Q. Have you signed it?
Q. Has any of the accused persons signed Exhibit E?
Q. I’m putting it to you that Exhibit E is an afterthought?
Q. It is one of the tools you and PW3 have used to deceive your supervisors that, really, the people were planning to overthrow the government?
A. From the meeting I handed over the paper to Awarf, and he also handed it over to our supervisor.
Q. Is it your case that the document you handed over to Awarf to be given the superior has been doctored?
A. It is the same sheet of paper I’m seeing in the court?
Q. You referred to Staff Sergeant Awarf as a friend and a brother?
Q. You believe he is a credible person, is that so?
Q. You told the police that Awarf and Sergeant Zakari informed one Captain Koda about the overthrown of the government?
Q. And he also told you that he and Colonel… went to see Colonel Opoku?
A. Yes. That was what Awarf told me, because Zakari works at the Flagstaff House.
Q. And they were directed to see the MATS Commandant for briefings?
A. Yes. That was what Awarf told me.
Q. And from the MATS Commandant, they went to see Brigadier General Andoh, the Director General of Defence Intelligence as he was then?
A. Yes, as Awarf told me.
Q. This is the chain of events that Awarf told you?
Q. And you believed me?
A. Already he briefed me after meeting the people, and on whatever information he had.
Q. Would you be surprised to know that Awarf never gave this chain of events, as you had wanted the court to believe?
A. That was what I was told by Awarf.
Q. You went to Awarf on 20 September, 2019?
Q. You said you were on your way to a wake-keeping when he called you?
Q. Did Awarf tell you he was arrested that day?
A. Yes. He told me that the patrol team from the Southern Command came to arrest them. I was then in the process of going to test some locally manufactured pistols at the beach with the doctor.
Q. Did he tell you how he was released?
A. He told me that the weapons were retrieved from them.
Q. You also told this court that after the 2nd meeting you never heard from Awarf for some time?
A. Yes, until he told me that Bright is wanted.
Q. And after he told you that Bright is wanted, and you could not arrest him, did you hear from him again?
A. No, until the 20th that he called me.
Q. I’m putting it to you that Awarf misled you to believe that there was going to be an alleged overthrown of the government?
A. I was not misled… we were all at the meeting, and everybody at the meeting heard what we were talking about.
Q. It was based on this information and briefing that you had assumed that, indeed, that some people wanted to overthrow this government?
Q. You see, did you independently verify the information that Awarf gave you?
A. I have already said I spoke to the Director of Defence Intelligence on phone, and he said everything will be directed to Awarf for the rest of us.
Q. My question is, apart from the purported information from the Director of Defence Intelligence, did you crosscheck the information that Awarf was giving you?
A. Everything Awarf told throughout the process was upon the instructions of the Director of Defence Intelligence to us, and those that he doesn’t want us to hear about it was only at the 1st & 2nd meeting he informed us to be present.
Q. When Awarf gave you this information, did you report it to your Unit Commander?
A. No. Because, according to Awarf, the Director of Defence Intelligence said we should not let anyone know about this secret.
Q. Which unit were you at when this was going on?
A. The General Headquarters Training, where I’m now.
Q. As a soldier, you know that the first person you have to report anything to is your Unit Commander?
A. Yes, but with this information it was for intelligence basis, so I cannot just inform my Commander…?
Q. Did you meet Brigadier General Andoh as he then was?
Q. You met him with who?
A. He came for training at the Nicholson Stadium, and I greeted him and introduced myself to him. And he said you are the Nattonarh okay? O Fine, fine.
Q. Is that all he said?
Q. I’m putting it to you that you are here in this court to give evidence in this case for and on behalf of the prosecution?
Q. And your evidence is based on the information that PW3 gave you?
Q. I’m also putting it to you that there had been never a second meeting as you want this court to believe?
A. It was brief and short, and it was that day that we handed the lists of items to Mr Bright.
Q. Did you know Sergeant Awarf and Sergeant Zakari were given gargets to record?
Q. So when you were handing over the list of items to Awarf, did you record it?
A. At the second meeting I didn’t know whether there was any recording of that sort, and Awarf didn’t tell me anything.
Q. The only meeting that you attended was 22 June, 2018?
Q. And the said meeting of 22 June, 2018 was recorded?
A. As for the 22nd June, it was Awarf who made me know that the meeting was recorded.
Q. You just told the court that you were smoking cigarettes at the beach?
Q. Staff Sergeants Namtorrah, I’m putting it to you that you don’t have any personal knowledge on this whole alleged coup plot, apart from what Awarf told you?
A. Yes. And with the meeting that we had, and what transpired there, I believe in what Awarf told me.