Helena Huang's case continues to make news headlines every other day, since she was first arrested ferrying prohibited forest products - Rosewood. Miss Helena, a Chinese national with a lot of influence in the North side of Ghana was released on bail, after Mr Mohammed Bondirigbum, bailed her out.
Forests in Ghana have been under threat with timber traders targeting high value timber such as rosewood, to build a profitable business. This has led to increased deforestation and the threat of a possible extinction of some tree species in Ghana. This led the government to create a task-force to regulate consumption of tree species under threat. Rosewood task-force is one such unit.
Helena Huang's bail
Huang's bail, for unauthorized logging of rosewood, was made by Mr Mohammed Bondirigbum who, according to ghanaweb does not know where Helena is. The publication continue to explain that the Tamale circuit court, on 13th May, 2019, granted bail to Mr Bondirigbum who bailed Helen after she was arrested for illegal logging of rosewood. Mr Mohammed's bail application was granted with two sureties. The two sureties were supposed to meet two conditions. One, be government workers and two, they must have a monthly salary of over GHS 3,000.
Justice Appiah Twumasi - the presiding judge ordered the police to part the vehicles carrying the rosewoods within the court premises, as he passed his judgement. The judge, who worry was evident, condemned the police for releasing the Chinese woman on bail.
The case was carried forward to May 22, 2019. However, the surety stuck to his ground, maintaining that he did not know where Helen Huang fled to.
Helena Huang hiding in Togo
It has been established that the Chinese woman was arrested for conducting illegal trade, and logging of rosewoods. She was released on bail and went missing. And according to ghanaweb, she is hiding in Lome, the capital city of Togo.
According to Ayamgabawa Fatau - the leader of rosewood taskforce, a lawyer of high social standing made bail for Helena Huang, and helped her cross to Togo. She could not travel to Togo by herself because her passport was out of date, and could also not stay in Ghana, because she feared being re-arrested. He said,
“That Chinese woman is really using her nationality to use these high profile people. What hurts us so much is that it was a high profile lawyer who secured bail from the police station in Tamale and the police have refused to disclose who this lawyer was. After her bail in Tamale, they smuggled her to Kumasi and then to Lome Togo so that is her current location now.”
He continue to describe the situation as worrying, owing to the fact that the Chinese woman had a huge influence on the North.
Huang was arrested while ferrying the wood in large trucks via Tamale. She was later charged with being in possession of banned forestry products. She was later released on bail, a decision that has come to haunt the police.
Miss Huang breached her bail conditions and was nowhere to be found.
Police follow leads
On May 16, 2019, Northern Regional Police Command said that they were following all the leads to apprehend the Chinese woman who was found to be in breach of the law by practicing illegal logging of rosewood. Helena failed to honor her bail terms, by not reporting herself to the police.
The police commander, in a bid to bring the case to a close, filed a summon notice at the High Court to force Huang's surety to produce her, to no avail.
Northern Regional Police PRO, ASP Yussif Tanko, while talking to Citi news said that the command depended on their leads to re-arrest the Chinese woman. He said:
A lot of efforts are underway to locate her whereabouts and also have her arrested. To achieve that, you remember that we recently restricted the bond on the surety in Tamale where the surety was also detained for his inability to meet his bail condition.
We have now secured it and the court has given them two weeks to bring their own suspect but as a police institution looking for a suspect to arrest, we are not leaving that to the surety alone. We are also trying very hard to look for means to arrest her.
Helena Huang company is closed down
Brivywell Company, the timber business owned by the Chinese national was ordered to be closed by the Savannah Regional Minister, Salifu Adam Braimah. The firm located in a farming community near Damongo called Yipala is believed to be involved in heavy processing of rosewood - a forest product that has been banned for export.
Helena Huang's surety confesses
Mohammed Bundrigbum, the journalist who stood surety for Helena has confessed to knowing where the Chinese woman is. The journalist was taken in after failing to present Helena when she abused the conditions of her bail. This begun his chain of bad luck as The Tamale Circuit Court presided over by Justice Twumasi denied him bail for not being able to meet the bail conditions - two government workers who earn Gh¢ 3,000 each or landed property worth about Gh¢ 130,000.
Mr Mohammed's attempt to plead with the judge failed on deaf ears. He wanted the judge to give him even 30 days to look for the suspect, but his cries were not heard. The judge asked him to meet the conditions of the bail before he could be released. He said,
I won’t give you even a day to look for her. If you get people to stand surety for you, you can then go and look for her so that if you don’t come back, we can hold those people too.
Helena Huang surety couldn't meet the bail conditions and so his stay in jail persisted. His attempts to reach people who will bail him out was shun by the fact that most of them could cot meet the GHC 3000 cedis a month. He is however, sure of leading the police to Helena Huang if released.
Helena Huang's case is another proof that the government of Ghana is serious on its fight against environmental abuse. The case, which has taken an unpleasant turn, has the whole country hooked. We will keep you updated on the latest, so that you do not miss out on the essentials of the case.