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The former Minister for Information and National Orientation, Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, and his wife Zuleika, yesterday heaved a sigh of relief following a court order releasing Zuleika’s passport to her in a legal battle with the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

An Accra Circuit Court presided over by Mrs. Adwoa Coleman, trying the former Minister’s wife for allegedly assaulting and using abusive language on a BNI officer, ordered the immediate release of the passport to Zuleika, a mother of two. The court decision received tons of commendations from New Patriotic Party (NPP) operatives including National Chairman, Peter Mac Manu, who described it as victory for rule of law. Several NPP bigwigs and supporters attended the court hearing, with some activists carrying placards with various inscriptions.

Counsel for Zuleika, Nene Amegatcher and Patrick Okudzeto, from Sammy Okudzeto Chambers, had filed an application on the last hearing, asking for the return of her passport to enable her to travel, as she is a businesswoman, pending the final determination of the criminal charges levelled against her. Mrs. Adwoa Coleman, in returning the passport to the accused person, said she had taken cognisance of the fact that Zuleika was a businesswoman and needed to travel from time to time; but added that she would need the permission of the court whenever she wanted to do so. According to the judge, Zuleika should give prior notice to the court as to when she would like to travel and when she would return. Zuleika is planning to travel to Italy, Daily Guide learnt. The case has been adjourned to August 26, 2009.

Mrs. Asamoah-Boateng is on a GH¢50,000 bail after she pleaded not guilty to three charges of assault on a public officer, use of abusive language and rescuing goods from a public officer, when she and her husband with their two kids arrived at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to board a plane to London and she snatched back her husband’s passport which was seized by a BNI Officer.

Zuleika, after being arraigned, was ordered to surrender her passport to the court registrar. The facts of the matter presented by DSP A. Boye was that on June 14, 2009 when the couple and their kids were at KIA to board a plane to London, the witnesses and complainants, in this case BNI officers, were instructed by their Director that former ministers should be prevented from travelling and be made to report to the Acting Director.

He said while going through boarding formalities, her husband, also known as Asabee, was holding his passport while Zuleika was holding hers and those of her two children, when the complainant, Nana Kwame Osei and his colleagues approached the former minister and told him of their boss’ order. He pleaded to be allowed to travel.According to him, when they said there was nothing they could do about it and took his passport away from him, his wife started shouting on top of her voice, using abusive language on the officers and calling them names. She managed to snatch back her husband’s passport during a struggle.

The prosecutor said a complaint was later lodged with the police, leading to the arrest of the wife of the former minister.
Meanwhile, Zuleika, a Public Relations Officer, her husband and their two kids, have dragged the state and BNI to a Human Rights Court in connection with the flagrant disregard for their fundamental human rights following the treatment meted out to them at the airport and the seizure of their passports. Supporters of the New Patriotic Party stormed the court where the trial was taking place with placards with inscriptions such as “Prez Ikomini fix the ikominy not Asabee and wife”, “Fear God Atta Mills”, and “Remember your campaign promises Mills”, among others. Former NPP presidential aspirant, John Alan Kyerematen and the former Majority Leader, Felix Owusu-Adjapong, were among those who came to give moral support to the couple.

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