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Ghana Police arranged WhatsApp Administrators before court over fake story | Trial of blogger: Alleged authors of panic withdrawal story before Court
The trial of a blogger and an information technology professional whose activities allegedly caused panic among dollar account holders, causing them to withdraw their savings in 2022, has begun at a Circuit Court in Accra.
Jeffrey Eppirim Nyame, the blogger, is facing a charge of publication of false news.
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The website developer
Jeremiah Kobina Egyebeng, the IT professional, has been charged with abetment of crime. His alleged accomplices are at large.
Guilty or not guilty
The two have, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and they are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢20,000 with two sureties each.
The court, presided over by Isaac Addo, took the evidence of Police Detective Sergeant Nach Kyeremeh of the Cybercrime Unit of the Ghana Police Service as he was cross examined by accused persons lawyer, Gregory Kwadwo Asiedu.
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The evidence against the blogger
In his evidence before the court, Detective Sergeant Kyeremeh admitted knowing the accused persons and it was Cyber Security Patrol team who saw the article on the internet.
According to the witness, the Bank of Ghana also made a verbal communication on the activities of the accused persons which had caused panic withdrawal of customers at various banks.
The witness said the Police investigated the original author of the article.
According to the witness, the Police asked the accused persons to lead the Police to them to the source of their story but they failed
Answering questions under cross-examination, the witness denied that the police targeted the accused persons, leaving the original source of the story.
the arrest of the blogger and the IT professional
In the year 2022, the accused persons were picked up after the Bank of Ghana alerted the police over the said false publication.
This follows President Akufo Addo’s caution in a national address that those who churn out false publication against the economy would be dealt with by the security agencies.
The police intelligence
The Prosecution, led Chief Inspector Richard Amoah, earlier on said the police gathered cyber intelligence on social media, which indicated that on October 27, 2022, Nyame published an article on his news portal known as reportghana.net and headlined it: “Dollar account holders to get cedi at BoG rate for bank withdrawals effective 31st October?”
Sharing on WhatsApp groups
He reportedly shared the content on various WhatsApp groups and social media platforms causing fear and panic among dollar account holders.
The websites owned by the blogger
The prosecutor said during investigation, it was established that Egyebeng in 2019 created a news portal for Nyame, called reportghana.com, which was used for the publication of similar articles.
But it was closed down by Google for violating their community standards over complaints received from users.
Egyebeng then created a similar news portal but with the domain changed from “dot com” to “dot net” and registered it as reportghana.net on February 11, 2022.
It was to enable him to use it for the publication of articles and happenings in Ghana, according to prosecution.
The WhatsApp groups
The Prosecution said thus after publishing the false news about the Central Bank, Nyame shared the publication on WhatsApp group platforms, including “reportghana news feed 1,” “reportghana news feed 2,” “reportghana news feed 3” with more than 160 active members.
He is the administrator, having his personal telephone numbers: 0551993013 and 0574144388 registered on the platform.
The Prosecution said the news was still circulating on social media and other platforms.
The source of information by the blogger
Prosecution said during investigations, Nyame admitted to publishing the false news but stated that he got the article from mynewsgh.com.
However, investigation established otherwise and confirmed Nyame as the author and publisher.
Egyebeng also admitted to the creation of the news portal managed and used by Nyame.
The investigation also uncovered the involvement of other persons in the publication who were currently at large. Efforts were underway to nab them, the Prosecution said.
The matter has been adjourned to October 18, 2023.